Thursday, November 28, 2019

About Miller and James

News came in yesterday of the deaths of two polymaths, Jonathan Miller and Clive James. I found this chat between the two, astonished that such freewheeling, unscripted, funny cleverness once popped up in a primetime slot on a mainstream channel; note that Miller isn’t plugging his latest product – he’s just there because he can talk well. When people talk about how wonderful podcasts are, I tell them they’re just what TV used to be.

It was a little depressing though that the deaths of two people blessed with such intelligence and knowledge should be accompanied by such outright wrongness. No, Evan Davis on Broadcasting House (Radio 4), Michael Grade did not give Clive James his television break on LWT in the late 70s; he’d had a regular berth on So It Goes for Granada in 1976 and was doing telly for several years before that. On the same frequency, a Front Row presenter claimed that Miller was a Cambridge contemporary of Eric Idle, when there was a decade or so between them. And, most glorious of all was Sarah-Jane Mee on Sky News, happily remembering a contretemps with the Bee Gees, oblivious of the fact she was thinking of the wrong Clive...

And the most poignant thing is the fun they would have had with such gaffes.

PS: Good article in the FT about the way each of them straddled the high/low divide:
Miller and his colleagues said: we refuse to take some things seriously just because respectable opinion says we should. James, you could say by contrast, said: I am determined to take some things seriously even though respectable opinion says I shouldn’t. The two positions are complementary.

1 comment:

Vicus Scurra said...

Thank you. That was excellent