Episode 17 The Culture Show

Episode 17

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Hello and welcome to the Culture Show from Glasgow. This week we are


experiencing an unconventional opera, pondering the political


memoir, seeing a skier remove the and honouring the octogenarian King


of British design -- seen a scary movie. Coming up tonight: Mark


Wallinger meets an artist. The Way We Live Now. Sir Terence Conran


talks to Alan Yentob. Someone living in the country and


doesn't make anything, it is awful. I get the latest on the Cultural


Olympiad. And online expert Aleks Krotoski


explains why search results are not as serendipitous as this theme.


Also tonight: David did his art for opera.


And Racal boy ponders the importance of the Personal memoir


when playing for political power. Mark Kermode talks to Rebecca Hall,


stock of The Awakening. And we reveal the winning buildings


in this year's Heritage Angel Awards.


First tonight, Mark one danger is one of Britain's best-known and


most played for contemporary artists. He has called the public


imagination with works as diverse as a statue of Jesus Christ, a


perfect replica of the Iraq war protests of Brian Haw, and a


performance piece in which he dressed up as a bear. A new book


has been published about Mark, so Alastair went to meet him.


During the summer of 2010, and mysterious set of graffiti began to


appear across London. From Clapham to Camden, each tag was the same.


Mark. Always the same size, always placed in the middle of a brick in


unremarkable locations. It turns out that the tax were up by the


Turner prize-winning artists Mark Wallinger, and he has evolved into


one of Britain's most unconventional artists. He works in


painting, video, sculpture and performance and his pieces can be


very personal, profound, highly political but also with a lightness


of touch. He can be really funny. He is the only artist I can think


of who has made a piece that involves dressing up as a bear. I


met up with Mark to try to find one of his tax. There is one here! Your


handiwork! For parents or stupidity that kept me from fully utilising


the punning potential of my name. Something to do with the urban


experience as well, anonymity, and trying to make a mark, be an


individual, but that is lost as a gesture of one brick among the


billions within London. How many have you done? Well over 2000. They


range from Clapham Junction to Shoreditch, makes their to the Old


Kent Road, and yet -- Mayfair. has become an obsession? I was


caught in the act was and this guy said, your name is all over town


and that was nice, because I did hope it would creep up on people.


Mark will ensure's art has always been diverse. His series of


portraits of the capital highlighted the problem of


homelessness in London. He was the first artist to make a work for the


Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in 1999. In 2004, he spent 10


consecutive nights dressed as a bear in Berlin's Museum of Modern


Art. He won the Turner Prize in 2007 for a reconstruction of the


late anti-war protester Brian Haw's peace camp, which stood outside


Westminster from 2001 up to 2006. If you think back over you can read,


it is quite hard to pin down what you do as an artist -- over your


career. Why have you almost consciously resisted creating your


own signature style? Originally, I would define myself as a painter


and once I opened my mind to other media and what those things had


inherent within them, the possibilities of those, then I


suppose that it did seem very liberating. In the 90s, when you


started working with different media, including video, you


introduced religion and faith as an explicit part of the work. Perhaps


the best-known example is "this man". Why would you suddenly so


drawn to creating is overtly religious imagery? Two factors. The


history of Christian art really, Westernised, but the other thing


was the rise of fundamentalism and that made me think about how much


the residue of Christianity in a pretty secular society, how much it


still chimes. There is a lovely connection in the book of the one


man in Trafalgar Square and another lone man in a bid from square of


national importance in London, Brian Haw in Parliament Square.


That protest inspired State Britain. Why were Brian Haw's actions so


compelling? Above all else, it was the power of the document that he


was unfolding. He was shaming and lot of people, not just the


government. There had been one huge protest before we went to war and


then everybody seems to go home. I was photographing his things got a


couple of years just because I thought it was a remarkable thing.


You've got to know him? I got to know him when I knew I was going to


propose it, yes, and he let me take 800 photographs. On 22nd May, I


took a couple of curators to the square and said that a proposed to


remake Brighton's protest, and that very night, 78 policemen came and


took it away. Really? Yeah. spent time in Berlin and famously


you dressed up in a best suit when you were there. Aid there is a


symbol of Berlin. It was called Sleep but. -- the bear is a symbol


of Berlin. How important is it that your work always has some wit and


lightness? I don't like pretentious finger poking work. I was not going


to do any impressions, I was going to be a guy dressed up as a bed but


there needs to be enough motivation and motor energy and there were


enough people always outside that I could interact with or play with.


It was only really on very few occasions where there was no one


there at all and that became quite a strange, meditative moment.


would love to ask you about a much more recent piece that is as yet


unrealised. The horse that you may yet erect in Kent. Tell me a little


bit about that. It will be a 50 metres high, a white horse, with


the steel superstructure and a cement finish over concrete, and


hopefully it will be at Ebbsfleet, where the chalk of the North Downs


runs into the Thames estuary and that led me to think about hillside


figures made of chalk and it interested me that it is kind of on


that road that is in and out of Europe and the rest of the world.


You would see it on the Eurostar? Yes, and the motorway, so it is


both of this country and of that relationship with the wider world


and history. Any sense of when we will see the White Horse? I hope


there will be some good news on that coming up in the not-too-


distant future. After the Olympics? Yeah. And the book Marked by Martin


Herbert is out now. David is a hugely popular visual


artist who deals with the so real and the daft. Now he has turned his


hand to opera, collaborating with Nicholas Bone and they need they be


saying -- David Fennessey. He has come up with an opera inspired by


TV cookery shows. We went to find out more.


This is an opera about food. It is a really good subject for an opera


and I wish I had thought a bit myself, but I know from experience


how difficult it is to get this kind of show right. But the process


SINGING. # Super #.


Pass this boom is set in the world of daytime television, a cookery


programme where the chefs have to create a special meal to entertain


a different guest every week. In this episode, they are planning


what will be on the menu but then Mr Banana start to question their


ingredients. Banana custard? Ride from the start, the creators of


"pass of the spoon" insisted on using the finest ingredients. The


composer and director made the decision to come to someone else


before the operetta. It is not for a dramatist and poet so there is


David Trickey's work and mind and a lot of the time we are grinding


together against each other. We are not always been the same direction


and that was deliberate. We set up this slightly opposing world.


Fennessey is a serious composer, who has written four symphony


orchestras and string quartet. David treacly is known for his


offbeat drawings and animations. have written a few comic operas in


my time and musicals and I am interested in how you approach


comic timing. I never wanted to score the comedy. I always took it


very seriously. There is a lot of pious and religious music and I


scored it as if it was the most serious thing in the world. It is


so nicely shaped? # I am just a banana #.


What was it like he read your words in a song? Was it a shock? --


hearing your words? I have made lyrics for songs before but it's


sort of, against the difference is that Dave is a proper musician, in


that he is a composer, where the music is written down, so it is


clever music rather than rock and roll, which is less so. I am an


exotic fruit! We meet you for the custard! We were keen to try to


avoid giving people expectations by calling it an opera or musical so


we could not really decide. As soon as we started, I knew that I did


not want to do it through a traditional opera means because it


is a particular kind of comedy and playing David's stuff that I did


not think would work. I thought it was an opera but I was speaking to


David finesse the and he said no, technically it is a melodrama.


is thought of an opera. I like that! Delightfully vague! Food and


opera is a great mix. I was interested in cookery being a


vehicle to examine a lot of dreams that I am quite interested in, like


the body and being eaten and other nasty things. Thankfully, there is


lots of nasty things in "past the spoon". The visual imagination


comes to live with the creation of mundane root vegetables and the


knowledgeable Mr Banana. Lac de? Appeals now? God! Is he German or


something? Who do you think will see the show? Who will it appeal


to? Lovers of fruit and veg and all things edible. I suppose hopefully


there will be the people who like contemporary music and like David's


music and people who know David's visual work and I suppose you are


attracted to the quirkiness of that. If the rehearsals are anything to


go by, fans of all things quirky it will not be disappointed and I


can't help admiring the cartoonist's fearless approach to


the genre. David, how many operas have you seen? Nun, I have never


been to an opera. Musicals? Never been to a musical. Have you


been to gigs? Yes! I have seen music before. I do know what music


is, but no operas and musicals. I saw the Sound of Music. A glass of


sherry! A glass of cider! Shandy! Or some elderberry cordial! A glass


From what I have seen it is a delightful show. It is surreal


without being alienating. And it is very funny. The thing is, comedy


opera are difficult. But I think there is a good collaboration here.


It seems warm and an interesting mix of people and they have a real


chance of success. And Pass The Spoon will be performed in Glasgow


from 17th November. Next the worldwide web has been described as


the greatest serendipity engine in history, where we can make


surprising connections and discover coincidences. But Vicky Cristina


Barcelona -- but Alec -- Aleks Krotoski finds it is anything but


serendipitous. Serendipity? It is a happy coincidence. It means luck,


but good luck. I have no idea what it is. But I would like to have is


some - to have some. Serendipity, that delightful moment when totally


unrelated things come together in magical ways to change the course


of destiny. But I'm intrigued by the science behind it. What it is,


why it is important and why it is under threat as we try to replicate


it online. Serendipity is the essence of innovation. It is


inspiring and it is something that businesses want to distil so they


can capitalise on it. But can they? Is it possible to reduce something


that is so wrapped up in our life experiences and our humanity into


something that can be predicted by a flow clart? -- chart. We have


relied on serendipitous encounters for new revelations. These can be


life changing like a new job or a lover. They can herald revolutions,


like the discovery of X-rays. Or they can become essential parts of


our worlds, like superglue. Serendipity has played a role in


advancing culture since time immemorial. In the past people have


confused it with fate, destiny, coincidence and religious


experience. All extraordinary attributes that ignore an essential


part - human involvement. But today the thing we're relying on to


provide our wind fall coincidences is the world wide web, that has


been called the greatest serendipity engine in history. Web


developers are offering us spwhruegs in the form of discovery


engines that introduce us to unexpected information, inspire us


to do, think or see something differently. Of course, any


serendipitous encounter they deliver means financial rewards.


The result? Serendipity has become a commodity. Google's chairman


announced last year that he wants the search engine to be a


serendipity engine. He want asthma sheen that will -- he wants a


machine that will answer all my questions. And based where I am


using the GPS on my mobile phone and the other information that it


has monitored from mail or from search or from photographs or


social networking, he reckons that he knows that I'm out with my


friend Kat on a Friday and that I like pub grub. So a well timed


message about a good pub over there would be delightful. And it would


be. But is it serendipitous? I don't think so. Computers make


connections that humans can't and they're valuable in reveals the


conjunction of places and ideas that we're unable to make. But the


web is just a massive memory bank a system in which information can be


stored for later, when the contextlet is right for having the


insight to make connections. And this takes human involvement. Burr


there is more in what computer can't do. Discovery applications


decide what you will have access to, by crunching the data they have


corrected and -- collect and showing what will be relevant to


your interests. These filtders reduce chance encounters, by


serving up things the system thinks you will like for sure. They go for


easy wins, not the here -ish, now - ish or soon -ish stuff so you can


discover things you may not have discovered before. We're facing a


future in which the internet, the serendipity engine, is threatening


to kill off serendipity. We will never have the opportunity to bump


into something new, because machines are predicting our futures,


based on our past and creating a loop of cultural homogenization.


Technology can be part of the process. But are we ready to rely


on technology to progress society? Should we be giving up a quality


that makes us human and has advanced our culture, the wisdom to


make the connection and recognise the value ourselves to a machine?


Let's reclaim serendipity and keep our future in our own hands. Now


when London won the Olympic bid a programme of the so-called Cultural


Olympiad was announced. And I have been talking to Ruth MacKenzie to


find out what we can expect. Justy country has their own way of


staging the Olympics, each one has their own way of show casing their


culture. Since 1952 a non- competitive of arts and culture has


been associated with each games. Since it was announced London would


host the Olympics, 97.6 million pounds has been awarded to projects


in the Cultural Olympiad. Influiding -- including the London


festival. It has been going for three years already and it is just


gearing up for 2012. It is appropriate in a way they chose the


London bus as their symbol, when you read their publicity, it is


clear what they're setting out to be is a kind of cultural bus


service for the nation. Chris crossing not only London, but all


the regions with a barrage of events from workshops to


exhibitions to plays and films. But as a cynic, I would ask whether


London needs this vast injection of cultural creativity. And what is it


exactly that we're getting for a truly remarkably large amount of


money? If I'm brutally honest, I live in London, apparently the


Cultural Olympiad has been going for three year, and if I hadn't


read your material, I wouldn't have noticed. You're not one of the 1.2


million who came and danced as parts of the big dance? No. I'm


shocked and sad to hear that. seem to have been doing so many


different things, that people like me just haven't realised and put it


together that this is part of one event. I think our big chance is


the climax of the Cultural Olympiad, that is the London festival. We're


building up to this festival all over the UK and our challenge is to


pull everything together and show you the best of it and the best in


the world. But isn't Britain already culturally vibrant and


aren't a huge number of the events, wouldn't they take place any way


without the Olympiad. None of the commissions we have announced would


take place without the festival. The Royal Shakespeare Company and


the Globe are presenting a programme of Shakespeare done by


artists from all around the world. We're going to have the Iraqi


national theatre for the first time coming to do roim owe and Juliet


and we have actors from the South Sudan coming here. I find that


moving. We're going to have more artists from around the world doing


Shakespeare and sharing how it belongs to them as well as us. This


wouldn't happen in any other year. As well as over 1,000 events,


London 2012 will have an Olympic poster campaign. We have


commissioned 12 artists to make posters for the Paralympics and the


him pibs and you have got Howard Hodgkin and Martin Creed. Three of


the 12. That is one for the swimming Olympics? You can see


there that he has been inspired by swimming. That is fair. You can see


that Rachael has thought about the symbol of the Olympic, the rings,


but she talks about how for her this is about the memory of social


get togethers. So you could think about coffee mugs or glasses. And


Martin has thought about Podia. not a medal for the people who come


fifth? Tracy Emin has designed her poster for the par Olympics. It is


difficult to get your head around to do a poster. I kept thinking


what could I do? When they said would you do the Paralympics, then


I said yes. I have written you inspire me with your determination


and I love you. Then I used the Paralympic symbol. I don't like the


Olympic rings, I find them graphically difficult to deal with.


So I was pleased to have something which I found nice to draw. It is


not just the post hear the she is doing for London 2012. I'm doing a


solo show in Margate and I come from Margate and it is a big deal.


It is like the prodigal daughter returns. I'm showing two other


artists, Turner and Rodin. It is all erotic art. So not everyone


knows that Turner did a lot of erotic paintings and obviously


Rodin did. But much more raunchy, all people know is the Kiss, but


his other stuff was hard core. So I think there will be -- they will be


bringing that out and I will look a nice young lady in comparison.


Prince of the posters -- prints of the pofrsers are available to buy


on the festival web-site. -- posters. But you can be involved


without spending any money. On the July 27th, that is the opening day


of the Olympics, you're going to wake up, we hope, and join with


Martin Creed to create his largest ever piece. That will be bells. We


will ask you to ring bells all around the country. Bicycle bells,


church bells, there will be a down load for you phone. At a particular


time his work of art is everyone in Britain if you're awake, ring a


bell at this time on this day. Why is important that culture should be


part of this? We have 20 thousand journalists from around the world


and millions of tourists and millions more people watching on TV,


we want to show the creative world of the UK to its best. They say of


London that culture is to London as sun is to Spain. This is actually


really important to the economy of this country. And to the health and


wealthth of institution. We need to put on the best show we can. That


is all we're trying to do. You do a very good sell. But the truth is we


are much better at culture than we're at sport shush! We're going


to win many medals in sport and show that we're winners culture.


That is OK. That seems to be eto be a win-win. Still to come: Mark


Kermode on The Awakening and Alan yeb to be meets the king of high


street design, Sirte rans Conran. Next we have been hearing the


stories of buildings brought back by people who care for them and we


can reveal the wirns of the new Heritage Angels Awards heltd in


London this week. -- held in London The big day has finally arrived. We


spent four weeks visiting 16 extraordinary groups of people


trying to save 16 buildings. They all deserve to win but only four


will. The host and champion of these awards is Andrew Lloyd Webber.


People around the country are investing huge amounts of time, and


their own money and they are unsung heroes. We need to preserve our


heritage badly and there are people who we take for granted, who are


doing exactly what the government ought to have been doing, so I


think to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of local


people, it is a very small thing to do but I think it is vital. It is


moment for humility by politicians and ministers because we tried to


solve the world's problems but when you speak to these people, you


realise the real problems are being sold by people in the grass roots


of stock the best rescue of an industrial building is the first


award. The first building on the shortlist is the magnificent


players fleapit in Mansfield. A gem of Britain's industrial past. --


Pleasley Pit. Just down the road from Pleasley, best would colliery


in Nottinghamshire. In 1845, the great Victorian engineer Isambard


Kingdom Brunel built this goods shed on the outskirts of Stroud in


Gloucestershire. The third building up for the award. North Leverton


windmill, the final building competing, was built in 1813 by


five local farmers and has been in continuous use for nearly 200 years.


And the winners are the Friends of Pleasley Pit. It feels fantastic to


have won this amazing award. I feel so proud that all my volunteers


have seen after 15 years some recognition of their arduous work.


The next award category is for heritage at risk in general.


The first building inherited at risk category is Arnos Vale


Cemetery in Bristol. -- heritage at risk. The huge necropolis was


opened in 1839. The Ireland memorial cross in Staffordshire was


built in 1841 by a wealthy industrialist, J C Watts Russell,


in memory of his wife. The third building competing for the award is


the de concentrated Church of St Stephen's, Rosslyn Hill, in


Hampstead. Consider it to be the architect's masterpiece. The final


building is the Dome Cinema in a Sussex coastal town of Worthing,


which has hardly changed since it was built in 1911 as a plush


picture palace. They were all very strong candidate


and we were completely split between two, and after a lot of


heated debate, we decided that we have to award joint winners. Arnos


Vale Cemetery Trust, working together with Bristol City Council,


and St Stephen's Restoration of Preservation Trust. I am so proud


of Arnos Vale today. It is for everyone. It is fantastic. It is


wonderful to have had some public acknowledgement of 11 years of what


Churchill referred to as blood, toil, tears and sweat. It has been


but it is being used by the community now and that is the


important thing. The third angel is for best rescue of a place of


worship. The first building nominated in the place of worship


category is the Church of the Good Shepherd in Nottingham. Built in


1964, the Church's stained-glass it was Brown's great king -- ground-


breaking. The second entry, the Church of St Peter's in


Leicestershire, has hardly changed since it was built in the late 15th


century. It may have the honour of been mentioned in the Domesday Book,


but the third building up for the award also has an impressive


historic pedigree. The 12th century St James's Priory is thought to be


Bristol's oldest surviving building. The final building competing is the


former church of St Margaret of Antioch in the inner-city area of


Leeds. Not much to look at from the outside, but step inside and you


will be greeted by a wonderful sight. And the winner is... Left


Bank Leeds for the restoration of the former Church of St Margaret of


Antioch. I think everybody admitted that it may not be the most


beautiful exterior but it is big inside that counts. One of the


things that people always say when they walk in the building is wow!


And the next thing is normally to swear. And then say, what can we


do? Because it is a space that so many people have used in the last


few years. Thank you very much. In a world where it is hard to get


somebody put some tiling in your utility room, I am thrilled that I


am do on the shortlist for the best craftsmanship are employed on a


rescue. -- I am doing. Tyntesfield Orangery in North


Somerset was built in 1897 to house exotic plants and fruit. Today, an


army of stonemasons on the National Trust have been hard at work


restoring this handsome building. Another set of unique craft skills


came into play in the restoration of the second building shortlisted.


The 16th century Smythe Barn in Kent boasts a rare and stunning


roof, usually found in palaces. Next up is the once magnificent


fourteenth-century Hall in Worcester. To ensure this ancient


site survives into the next century, a team of stonemasons have been


hard at work, Suren it up for the nation. The final building


competing is Woodchester Mansion in Gloucestershire, which was


mysteriously abandoned amid construction in 1873. Now, thanks


to the Woodchester Mansion Trust, workers resumed on this beautiful


building. The winner of the craftsmanship award is Mr Graham


Forge, his son and the group for the Smythe Barn. It is a massive


pat on the back for all of the effort that we have done. It is


lovely to be awarded something that recognises how much effort we have


all put into it. What an exciting and enjoyable morning, not least


for the winners. This is the first year of the Heritage Awards and in


the future, I am looking forward to meeting many more Heritage Angels.


Next up, Sir Terence Conran bought Mossbourne design into drab and


dingy British households -- modern design. In doing so, he became a


household name himself. Few have had such a profound effect on the


look of our lifestyles. He has just turned 80 and to celebrate, the


Design Museum is holding an exhibition looking back at his


extraordinary career. Alan Yentob Terence Conran has always been a


hero of mine. It was his passion for intelligent design which helped


transform the rather dowdy Britain of the 50s into a livelier, more


elegant and more colourful plates. Conran is much more than a designer,


a retailer or restaurateur, although he is all three of those.


He was a pioneer of what seemed like a sophisticated, civilised


lifestyle that he believed should be accessible and affordable to


just about everyone. It is a mission that has absorbed him for


over half a century and his employers and impact can still be


You enticed us all into understanding design. You held our


hand. Let's face it, Britain was quite dowdy when you began and it


has taken half a century to get where we are now, which somehow has


embraced the dream he had. It is surprising to me, this, because I


worked on the Festival of Britain as an extremely young designer and


I saw the enormous enthusiasm that people had when they came to the


festival. If you looked around London at that time, endless bomb


sites, it was a miserable, Gray, rationed existence. Suddenly coming


to the Festival of Britain was light, colour, cheerfulness,


innovation, invention, a new architecture, shapes, and it gave


the British who went to it confidence that they were in the


right country at the right time. The British have always been rather


suspicious of the Continent, of the French. You love Paris, you love


France, you love cuisine, and now we have open-air cafes, there is


light streaming into your building. In their early 50s, I had a friend


called Michael Wickham who had been a condition last photographer and


he said to me, would you like to come on holiday and so we set off


for France in his clapped-out car, and we managed to spend six weeks


eating in wonderful cafes, slipping in ditches, and this trip to France


was enormously important to me. Especially, the Ironmongers shops,


you went into them, these wonderful, sturdy, kitchen equipment. Great


casseroles, wonderful ceramics, fantastic baskets. To me it all


added up to the sort of life that I wanted to live. As it turned out,


it was the sort of life that many of us wanted to live, although it


took Conran's vision to persuade us that this was the case. In 1964, he


opened a shop on the Fulham Road which was to blossom into perhaps


his greatest legacy. Habitat. don't just sell furniture but they


are also if taste supermarket. In this case, the furniture and the


taste a one-man's: Terence Conran. I have always been fascinated by


the below the stairs object of the Victorian era, which were made as


very useful, simple objects. The design of them probably really


wasn't considered as such, they had to do their job. His farmhouse


tables and enamel jugs entice the naturally Conservative Brits to


imagine they were revisiting the past. But his real genius lay in


presenting those objects side by side, with high desire from


Scandinavia and Italy. Pieces by contemporary designers, working in


plastic and chrome. As much as anything, conman was selling us


ideas about design. -- Terence Conran. You were trying to show


people how they could live rather than the way they did lives. What


Habitat was about, and I know you resist the would live start but I


mean it in a positive way. In other words, the quality of life --


resist the word "lifestyle". Not just the chair we sit in but the


food we eat. How you make everyone a place we want to be in. For I


believe in easy living. A feeling that when you come home, there is


no formality, you can keep your shoes off, take your jacket off,


sit down on the sofa and put your feet up on it, read a book, watch


the telly, have a drink and... I have always tried to create that


sort of relaxed atmosphere. isn't too fantastical to say that


Terence Conran was the reason most of us sleep under a duvet every


night. That many of us have open- plan homes, or for the garlic


presses, Wine Rack and pepper mills in our kitchens. His philosophy,


which seemed so radical in the 60s, had become the norm, and he


continues to design and make things today through his workshop, a


Benchmark. As the elder statesman of British design, he is naturally


concerned for the future of the industry and despite turning 80,


the always outspoken Terence Conran has no intention of bowing out


quietly. Do we undervalue the creative industry? I think one of


the things that Britain has achieved a really his reputation,


and much of it is to do with its design, its architecture, the


people it has produced. Yeah. I think it is undervalued by


government. Seriously undervalued. We have to create jobs, you know,


the easiest way to create jobs is by making things. We have simply


got to learn how to become a workshop again in this country and


make things. Fancy living in a country that doesn't make anything.


It is awful. Terence Conran, the Way We Live Now, is at the Design


Museum from November 16th until March fourth next year. Next, if


you are plotting or political power, what do you need to make it? Crowd-


pleasing Policies? A makeover? An attractive young family? That will


help but don't forget the latest weapon in the leader's' armoury,


publishing a personal memoir. Over the pond, the Republican hot shot


Michelle has her eye on the Oval Office and hence she is the latest


politician to put pen to paper. Journalist Anne McElvoy talks us


Michelle Backman is the new Tea Party got ess of right-wing


politics. In other words, she is the new Sara Palin. Just without


the natural restraint and liberal tendencies. I think that people


across the United States are not happy with President Obama's


policies and I think it is likely he will be a one-term president.


She is intent on challenging Barack Obama and as public opinion goes


cold on the cool liberal guy, that is a big opportunity. So what does


a fledgling member of congress need to reach out to a wider audience?


She is deploying the weapon of a thumping great memoir with a states


womanly image on the cover. You are no one in American politics without


an autobiography laying out your view of the world. Modern


campaigning is about selling a story. The game changer was Obama's


Dreams For My Father. It was written before his career began and


it has a refreshing honesty. Two things not always associated


politicians. Can I not honestly say the voice in this book is not mine.


But I would tell the story differently today. Even if certain


passages have been inconvenient politicaly. What this book she'd


touching life story could reach people who don't read big tomes and


he even confessed to teenage drug abuse. But many people are writing


memoirs before they achieve anything. So what is the point?


Beside pegging her to a set of values, it is a chance to be on the


chat shows and have acres of press coverage, even from detractors,


such as Jon Stewart. That is... The guy... Teaching people not to be


gay? Of course Obama was not the first politician to discover the


memoir as a campaign tool. Winston Churchill penned his self-portrait,


my early life, to rise up the ranks and show his if theness to --


fitness to lead. So did Adolf Hitler and Ronald Regan. Campaigns


of the field in which interests clash intrigue us as events move to


the final show down. Tensions break out and stuff just happens. In


Britain though political insiders tend to wait until they have


achieved something before spilling the beans. In recent years we have


had a slew of memoirs from the New Labour in crowd about life at the


top. It wasn't the politics that appealed, it was the boldness,


people talked about it for years. Here was a new leader, telling me


he was thinking about doing it in his first conference speech. Bold.


I said, I hope you do it. Because it's bold. Important thing about


the accounts by the big hitters is they rarely concede that a lot of


it was a waste of time or a cock up. Vindication is the name of the game


with a twist of revenge. The hope was we would trip up and I would


lose my head by some trick of fate the mood of the public would switch.


It was never going to happen. everyone of these accounts is a


feat of self congratulations. Politicians aren't into that, as we


know. There is a school of memoir writing that is devoted to failure


and what it feels like. From Labour's glody Chris Mullin to the


old right-wing Alan Clarke. Department of Employment, Wednesday,


15th June, she has a pale skin and large eyes, her blonde hair is gamy


and short her sexuality tightly controlled. She makes plain her


feelings on several accounts, without expressing them. One that


I'm an uncouth lout, two that it is a mystery why I have been made a


minister. The joy of the memoir is that it is weapon, a diversion and


an execution and often absurd. But it is telling. The reason I like


them, they give us a glimpse into the events of people who shaped our


course. Are they self serve something of course. If you want to


sniff the air of another era, there is no better way. Michelle


Backman's memoir is published on 21st November. For those who like


to be terrified, one of this autumn's key releases will be The


Awakening, a new British thriller that had its premiere last week.


Mark Kermode has been talking to Rebecca harl is becoming one of the


UK's most in demand actresss, The Awakening is a chiller set in


postWorld War one Britain and she has made a career out of exposing


psychic fraudsters. Welcome to the show. You have been nominated for


an independent film award. You have had nominations before. You won a


BAFTA. Let's talk about The Awakening, has there been a return


to that kind of classic horror? People seem to have decided they


want something different from their chillers? The truth is that that


these type of genre movies and everyone makes a face when you say


that. Not me. I just don't think it is. Often the point of the films


that take you know extreme situations is to say something more


simple and humane. And often it is easier to tell, to get to the meat


of that through being elliptical and going through it the other way


and using a genre. I often find it illuminates things. What is the


scariest film you saw? Probably Don't Look Now. But it is a strange


one. I was home alone as a kid, I was about 12, rifling through my


dad's video collection and put on Don't Look New As a 12 or 13-year-


old. Perhaps not the best. I call that bad parenting. No. My parents


would say not. Good parenting. The opening to cultures. Expose


yourself to one of the scariest films. I didn't know what I was in


for. I kept watching. There is a connection, because it is about


loss and the centre of the Awakening, it is seen through the


eyes of your character. Yes. I don't look at the script and think,


you know, oh grieving, that is a great way to tell a ghost story. I


thought a gors story is a good way to talk about grief. You use


something to address something else. What is that? She began with film


like The Prestige and went to Frost/Nixon and working with Woody


Allen in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. He keeps looking over. You keep


provoking contact. "M at. You have been throwing looks al at him.


story with Woody Allen he said can you do an American accent, fine


you're in? That is true. Really? Yes it sounds fan fast Tall -- fan


tastical. He didn't even see my face. It was winter and I was


wearing a hat and had a scarf. There was about this much of my


face showing. I was trying to disrobe, not entirely, but within


reason. Before I had got to the hat, he just said, can you do an


American accent. I have spoken to people who have been directed by


him and say he is very, he stands back and lets you do it and give


you a bit. What is that like? true. If anything he is a bit


more... He can be even more irrefr rent with his own material and I


found that scary. He would say, do it again, put it in your own words,


say what you want. I would say, you're kidding mairs, you're Woody


Allen. I can't put it into my words. She is a mental teenager and she


has a death wish. So for a brief moment of passion she abandons all


responsibilities. What is it like working with Christopher Nolan?


is extraordinary. I didn't, well I was green when I meat The Prestige.


It was my first film and I had never been to Hollywood before. He


cast me on the basis of a tape I made on my dodgy video recorder in


my bedroom. So I didn't know it was. What was on the tape? A scene from


the movie. It was like, you auditioning on your own? Yes it was


with a mate reading behind the cam RSPCA I wasn't doing both parts.


And just flipping my head. What do you want from me? I... I want... I


want you to be... Honest with me. No tricks. No lies. And no...


Secrets. You paint and you have been talking about directing and


having confidence in something like Christopher Nolan, you have a


creative vent, are you going to direct? Yeah, it is terrible being


an actor, people ask you that. Sorry I meant it in a good way.


is great, but if I say it now, then I'm going to have to come good on


it. Would you like to. When your being directed. I'm being


faseeshous, but I would like. have a project that you would like


to direct? Maybe. Is ate genre project? I don't know yet. It is


early days. OK. And The Awakening is on release from end of next week.


This has been the last of our regular programmes, but you can see


a special on Armistice Day, the 11th November at 7pm. Art for


heroes look at how ex-servicemen suffering from post-traumatic


stress are using art to help heal themselves. We leave you tonight


with the Fleet Foxes, the American folk band are in the UK next month.


But now here is a TV exclusive of a new animation made to accompany a


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