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Turn off the lights, disconnect the doorbell
and leave the trick or treaters to the neighbours
because you won't want to miss a minute of tonight's show.
We've got freakish films, witch trials,
the best of non-fiction and a snapshot of fine art
and photography from the National Gallery, here in London.
Coming up, Mark Kermode
and John Sweeney investigate new film The Master.
I'll be comparing Old Masters with modern photographers.
Miranda Sawyer reviews three of the short-listed books
for this year's Samuel Johnson Prize.
And we'll be summoning up a piece of Halloween gold from the TV archives.
But first, from Shameless, Silk and Strindberg
to a haunting Myra Hindley, via a role in Dinnerladies
with Victoria Wood, it may come as a surprise that actress Maxine Peake
has turned her talents to electronica, with music collective
the Eccentronic Research Council.
Their latest concept album tells the tale of the Pendle Witches,
a subject close to Maxine's heart.
Elizabeth Southerns, Elizabeth Device, James Device, Alison Device,
Anne Whittle, Anne Redferne, Jane Bulcock, John Bulcock,
Katherine Hewitt, Isabel Robey, Margaret Pearson and Alice Nutter.
The Pendle Witches are a group of people from Pendle, Lancashire,
who were accused of witchcraft.
And they were just local people who were mainly very poor,
uneducated, and who'd dealt a little bit in the selling of herbs
and potions for illnesses.
They were just women and men just trying to get by.
I'm from Lancashire, from Bolton.
So we always knew they were the witches from over the hill.
I grew up in the shadow of the West Pennines.
It was probably only when I got to about 17, 18, that
I started investigating further, but I just thought this can't be true.
So I went into a local bookshop in Bolton
and got a couple of books and that's when I started to realise really that it was sort of a smokescreen
that was based on conspiracy and paranoia,
and the seriousness of it.
I got in touch with Adrian rather embarrassingly through Facebook actually.
I just got a message from this guy saying,
"I think you'd like my music," and I though, "Will I?"
And he sent me a track over and I loved it.
And then the subject of the Pendle Witches came up
and we both had this passion to tell the true story.
So we said, "Let's do something."
# The A666, some call the devil's highway
# And some call the road to hell
# But I can't believe the devil came from Bolton
# And gorged on black peas astride a small stone elephant
# And I don't believe he was ever a fan of Chris Rea. #
The album is a travelogue. It is based on a day
me and Adrian came up to Pendle and had a good old mooch around.
Adrian sort of went away
and wrote from the experiences that we had that day.
I never thought of being in a band, and when I recorded this
I still didn't think I was going to be in a band.
And then we got a call saying they want to release it as an album
and could we do a few gigs to promote the album?
And that's when I panicked.
# My pal and I hit this particular road
# Like Terry and June in a battered old Hillman Minx
# Masquerading as an Eddie Stobart truck
# To give thanks
# And praise the Lord to those ladies known as the Pendle Witches
# Those uneducated, mostly very poor, sometimes a little bit daft
# But then, aren't we all?
# Women who were by and large unjustly hung by cretinous agenda
# Filled judges and their potty Reformation obsessed word editors
# On the orders of the bully kings
# Proof, if ever needed, that man can be a black dog. #
Pendle Witches' sort of tragic story started with...
Alison Device was...out on the moor one day and there was a peddler who'd come over
from Halifax who was selling pins.
She'd asked him for some pins and he'd said no.
So she'd probably said, "On yer bike, mate," which was taken as a curse.
He then supposedly fell down on the floor in extreme pain.
Now, if you read the description, the gentleman had obviously had a stroke.
But it was taken that Alison had cursed him.
So then she was hauled in with her mother and the family
and the families who had been sort of connected with them,
all of them were accused of witchcraft.
So that's how it started.
At the time of the Pendle Witches, James I was in power
and he completely believed that witchcraft was a threat
and that anybody seen to be, God forbid, fiddling with twigs
or anything like that, he would have them condemned as a witch.
You had to be so careful about how you conducted yourself.
You could be, as unfortunately these women were, murdered.
# Hang the witch, oh, shut them up
# It's a middle-class vendetta on women who were better
# Sorry to murmur, praise heart
# If you don't believe in Jesus, don't think there'll be a Christmas
# Another day has gone, another witch is dead
# Another day is gone... #
I can see very clear parallels with today, how people are sort of
swept under the carpet if they don't fit in, if they're on
the margins, very poor, uneducated, we're not dealing with these people
face on, we're just pushing them in cupboards and closing the door
and hoping that they're out of sight, instead of dealing with it.
The album is about smokescreens and I think what happens in this country today
and throughout the world, governments are very good at pinpointing people
who are accused of being the root cause of things when it's not really, it's just to deflect.
We should never forget our history
and maybe we'll get out of the mess we're in at the moment if we do that.
# One last spell I offer up
# Contains grains and worms and carrots
# 16th-century Holland and Barrett, dear you
# Snap my neck and wave goodbye
# Every eye that sees is guilty
# Of a subtle kind of cruelty. #
Just in case 1612 Underture should have crept under your radar,
it's out and available now.
Now, there's a real buzz about Paul Thomas Anderson's new film,
not least because it's loosely based on the story of L Ron Hubbard,
founder of Scientology.
Mark Kermode went to see the film with Panorama's John Sweeney,
a man who's come face-to-face with the organisation
and knows it better than most.
The Church of Scientology has long had strong ties with Hollywood
and many of its stars.
Now, Paul Thomas Anderson,
the wunderkind behind movies like Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood
and Magnolia, has released a film inspired in part by the life
of L Ron Hubbard and the early days of the movement he founded.
The Master tells the story of a Navy veteran,
drifter and down-and-out who falls under the spell
of the charismatic leader of a new quasi-religion, the Cause.
I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist, a theoretical philosopher.
But above all, I am a man, just like you.
In the States, it broke opening weekend records for an arthouse release
and has been hotly tipped for Academy Awards.
While, over here, the film's allusions to Scientology
have already caused a bit of a media stir.
So I wanted to ask someone who's been up close and personal
with the controversial church what he made of the film.
BBC Panorama reporter John Sweeney has fronted two investigations
into Scientology and its members, not the easiest of assignments.
-You don't understand the nature of journalism, with respect.
-I don't understand the nature of you as a person.
-Very good, thank you.
-Welcome to the Culture Show.
-Take a seat.
So, John, we've just watched The Master together. I loved it.
-What did you make of it?
-I thought the film was extraordinary.
I thought it was bold and good.
I'm still troubled by my experience with the Church of Scientology.
I found this film almost healing, in some sense.
What's wonderful for me
about The Master is it explains the birth of a cult.
Because the thing that really gets me
and confuses all of my friends and people who think about it,
ex-Scientologists, is how on earth do they fall for this?
How do they fall for this man and this thing, this entity,
this "church", and the answer is...he had charisma.
And what's so brilliant about this film is you see how a man
with immense charisma can mould people around him
to believe he is someone special.
He's been writing all night. You seem to inspire something in him.
What we will do now will urge you toward existence within a group.
Paul Thomas Anderson has said that The Master is not meant to be
a biopic of L Ron Hubbard
but he accepts that there are very pronounced parallels.
Tell us, from your knowledge, what those parallels would be.
Let's start with, they call it processing,
Scientology calls it auditing.
What happens is you go into a trance-like hypnotic state
and you talk through your past lives on tape.
Are you thoughtless in your remarks? Do your past failures bother you?
Is your life troubled? Is your behaviour erratic?
The biggest thing of all is that Hubbard,
the founder of Scientology, was massively charismatic and a conman.
And in the film, the Master is massively charismatic and a conman.
-You might learn something.
-He's making all this up as he goes along.
You don't see that?
There's Jason Beghe, who's left the Church
and he's said about Scientology that there has never been
a mousetrap without some really good cheese in it.
They love-bomb you to death.
And at the beginning of the film, certainly, Phoenix is a wreck
and the Cause does help him.
They listen to him. There is some kind of weird family.
And they look after him.
If we are not helping him, then it is we who have failed him.
Perhaps he's past help.
The Cause feels like a good thing for really quite a while
and then it's suddenly when the sceptic arrives
and questions the Master
that it turns nasty and gets progressively darker and darker.
Good science by definition allows for more than one opinion,
otherwise you have the will of one man, which is the basis of cult.
And this is where we're at, to have to explain ourselves. For what?
The only way to defend ourselves is to attack.
From your personal experience,
it's obviously struck a very deep chord in relation to Scientology.
Do you think it's possible to read the film in any other way?
It's not absolutely about Scientology, even for me.
You don't have to be in the least bit interested
in the Church of Scientology or have ever heard of it
to find this film an amazing piece of art.
It's a love affair between two men.
It's a film about a charismatic domineering personality.
It could also be about other cults.
Do you think there's any particular reason why this film exists now?
I think Scientology used to have an octopus-like grip on Hollywood.
And that is weakening. It should have been made 20 years ago.
But it's great that they've done it now.
-John, thank you very much.
And The Master is out on Friday,
going on general release in two weeks' time.
Next, a groundbreaking new exhibition at the National Gallery,
which for the first time in its 150 years of history
is devoting a major show to the subject of photography,
specifically the links between photography and painting.
I went along to find out
what we might learn from this double exposure.
In 1839, a new technology revolutionised the image.
Photography. Almost immediately,
it sparked a heated debate that's still going on today.
So, can a photograph be a work of art?
It's an old chestnut
and personally I think the answer's straightforward - of course it can.
Every time the photographer depresses the shutter,
all kinds of artistic decisions are being made,
about focus, about light, about composition.
And yet in many people's minds, questions still hover.
Isn't photography too easy, too mechanical, too much of a shortcut?
Can a photograph ever be really as truly
and deeply expressive as a great painting?
To explore, I've come to the National Gallery's
first major photography exhibition, which has Old Masters of painting
rubbing shoulders with groundbreaking photographers,
past and present.
Pioneers like Julia Margaret Cameron were convinced that
photography could be art, and used smudged paint effects to prove it.
But, 150 years later, photography was still painting's poor relation.
In the '70s, Craigie Horsfield was one of the first contemporary artists to make a breakthrough.
I remember, 20 years ago,
you were well known for bridling if anybody called you a photographer.
You said, "No, no, I'm an artist,
"and I happen to use a camera some of the time."
If you were showing Gilbert & George, it's photography, or is it?
Warhol - is that photography?
It's such a nebulous description,
and it doesn't actually apply to most of what we see and experience.
Horsfield's work challenges some perceived limitations of the photograph -
that they're small, slight, quick to reproduce,
lacking the weight of painting.
He produces only one image,
emphasising the uniqueness of the object itself.
I notice that you are one of the few in the exhibition
who doesn't have a sheet of glass
interposed between image and audience.
To me, that has the effect of drawing me
into the photographic paper, almost beginning to see
the photographic paper itself is another form of skin on which these pigments,
these shapes, these forms have been imprinted.
Is that part of your intention?
Yes, it is an aquarelle paper, where you have this tactile surface.
If you look very closely,
you can see the stippling almost as if it was the pores of the skin,
but, of course, it is an illusion.
There's a strong sense of enigma about it.
I have this sense that he's really thinking about something that's been said to him.
There's almost like a sense of clenching in his cheek muscles.
But this is surely one of the fascinating aspects of making art,
and especially making pictures,
that this is a story.
We know that it's not real.
It's not this person in this place.
It's an account of somebody who we've never met,
who we will only know this about.
-It's almost like the Mona Lisa quality.
-Except he's not smiling!
-It's something that art can do, isn't it?
Horsfield's work has been described as painterly
in both its process and its nature.
He paved the way for some of the artists here,
many of whom explore the relationship
between photography and art history.
Richard Learoyd uses a 19th-century process,
a camera obscura,
a gigantic photographic device the size of a room.
The image is projected directly onto the paper itself,
making each image unique.
Sittings can last for days.
All of this effort,
all of this labour into the camera obscura effect.
What is it, the effect you're trying to get? What's the sensation?
The sensation is the power of the photograph.
I think that making photographs in that way
creates image of a scale
without a printmaking process intervening.
This process is incredibly good at giving people
a centre of gravity, giving a sense of weight
and three-dimensionality that defies the photographic surface.
Learoyd's work is often directly inspired by existing works of art.
The National Gallery reveals the connection
between his aesthetic and that of the painter Ingres.
My references and the things that I sort of am drawn to
are actually painterly.
It's a funny relationship that I have with photography.
I think I am slightly unusual in that I take...
Sometimes I take a very literal interpretation of an image that I like.
But when I was looking at this photograph for the first time,
-I did actually think of Ingres...
..with that lost profile of the face
and this tremendous sensual focus on flesh itself.
That flesh is something that people are invited to scrutinise.
It's only your children or your lover that you ever get to look at
so closely, to see, well, actually he's got hair here,
and the pores of the skin are quite smooth, so you can evaluate his age.
Maybe he's not in a manual profession
because his fingernails are quite, you know, they're pretty good.
There's a softness of the skin.
You make a lot of decisions about somebody
when you can look at them incredibly closely.
Can a photograph
be expressive in the same way, as deeply, as profoundly
of somebody's sensibility, as a painting or a sculpture?
I think yes, but it isn't a casual yes.
I think that photography has enormous problems.
The medium has enormous problems.
The equalisation of technology,
the fact that everybody carries a phone,
everybody makes photographs all the time.
It's almost as if everybody was wandering the streets
with a canvas, painting constantly!
How much more difficult would it be to produce a Titian?
Well, yes, that's a good point.
It can be, at its best, incredibly moving, photography.
But it moves in different ways. It's a very complicated area.
You can get pictures that are emotional
because of what they're showing you rather than what they are.
I think that what I'm interested in is photographs that are moving
or emotional because of what they actually are.
Next up, the Samuel Johnson Prize,
shining a light on the very best non-fiction writing.
Miranda Sawyer picked three books on the shortlist to see
who scaled the heights this year.
'The Samuel Johnson Prize is Britain's most prestigious
'award for non-fiction,
'and has previously been won by books on subjects
'as diverse as China's great famine under Mao,
'an account of our fascination with whales,
'and the story of a real-life Georgian murder mystery.'
The six books on this year's shortlist are equally broad-ranging,
but my selected three have a few themes in common.
They're all weighty, scholarly tomes that analyse war and human conflict.
They shine a light onto our more brutal and vicious traits,
but also offer a glimpse of redemption.
Mount Everest is the looming presence at the centre of
Into The Silence by Wade Davis,
a gripping account of man's first attempts to conquer
the roof of the world
in a series of expeditions between 1921 and 1924.
Wade Davis, who is an award-winning anthropologist
and explorer in his own right, is brilliant at plotting
the history behind the British desire to conquer Everest.
By 1912, we'd lost the race to both poles,
so scaling the largest mountain in the world
became absorbed into the colonial effort,
in Davis' words, "A grand imperial gesture."
But the backdrop to this epic quest was the battlefields of World War One,
where men were subjected to an onslaught of death and destruction.
EXPLOSIONS AND GUNFIRE
'In the noise and chaos and horror of the battle,
'all communication collapsed.
'Those few who advanced slowed
'and faltered, burdened by their loads,
'leaning and bowing into the storm
'as if to limit exposure to the land.'
Out of the 23 climbers who took part in the world's first
17 had experienced the horrors of the trenches.
This is the final attempt here,
1924, and we see Mallory and Sandy Irvine,
who accompanied him.
Mallory was the most illustrious climber of his generation,
so therefore the most famous.
And this one here is the very last photograph taken of Mallory
and Irvine as they set off from camp four
to make their assault on Everest,
and neither of them came back.
Whether Mallory and Irvine reached the summit is still disputed.
The three expeditions to conquer Everest had failed.
But man's obsession with defeating it never ceased.
I'm not normally into stories of exploration
and British derring-do, but this book is much more than that.
For a start, it's beautifully written,
and the way that Wade Davis explores human suffering
and the effect of World War One
on the individual and national psyche
makes this book genuinely moving.
But less than 20 years after the First World War,
violence and fighting had returned to Europe,
this time to a country at war with itself.
The Spanish Holocaust, written by Paul Preston,
an academic and a leading authority on modern Spanish history,
is a chilling yet powerful account of the mass slaughter
committed by Franco's troops during the Spanish Civil War.
In Spain, there is what has often been called the pact of silence.
That was an important part of the transition to democracy.
When Franco died,
people were terrified that there wouldn't be a democratic transition,
and therefore there was this kind of tacit agreement,
"Let's not rake over the past."
So in a way, I wanted to, if you like,
to break the pact of silence.
I felt someone had to do it.
On 18th July, 1936,
on hearing of the military uprising in Morocco,
an aristocratic landowner lined up the labourers on his estate
to the south-west of Salamanca
and shot six of them as a lesson to the others.
Aguilera's cold and calculated violence
reflected the belief common among the rural upper classes
that the landed labourers were subhuman.
You use the word holocaust, it's a Spanish holocaust.
-Why did you choose that word in particular? It's quite loaded.
-What I wanted to do was to shock.
I wanted a word that would capture my sense of indignation,
my sense of horror at what had happened.
Franco had such an amazingly good press in the Anglo-Saxon world.
He's still thought of as this gallant Christian gentleman,
when in fact the piles of dead bodies over which Franco clambered
to get to power were something I felt needed attention being drawn to.
There were evenings when my wife would come home from work
and she would find me literally weeping over the keyboard.
It was appalling.
Steven Pinker's The Better Angels Of Our Nature
offers a more optimistic outlook for mankind.
Pinker is a polymath and author of several popular
science books about language and the human mind.
In this, his latest work, he argues that over the course of human history,
violence has declined
and we are now living in the most peaceful era of our species' existence.
It sounds a bit too good to be true.
But Pinker's argument is convincing as well as thought-provoking,
and it's backed up with an incredible amount of research,
masses of data and graphs that chart violent incidents over time
and adjust them according to the world's population.
'Critics have been raving about this book.
'It's been called "brilliant" and "mind-altering".
'Pinker believes that the pacification of the world
'is a steady and ongoing trend.'
The women's liberation and civil rights movements
illustrate how far we've come from fighting each other
to fighting for each other's rights.
So, Steven, I've read two other books on the shortlist
that are essentially full of mankind's brutality.
And yet your book is trying to give us a reason for optimism.
I kept coming across these statistics that no-one else seemed to know about,
that violence seems to be in decline
in multiple ways.
So many people think that things are getting worse,
and being privy to these studies showing that it is the other way around,
I thought that the news had to get out.
What would you like people to take away from your book?
One is a sense of gratitude for the institutions that have made life pleasant
in ways that we sometimes don't appreciate,
and also the knowledge that it's not hopeless,
the world is not a hellhole, we've been doing something right.
Thinking that we can reduce war still further is not romantic,
it's not idealistic, it's completely practical.
Thank you, Steven, and I'd like to say that I spent ages reading thousands and thousands of words
of how terrible people have been to each other,
and you have given me a glint of hope, so I'd like to say thank you very much.
My pleasure, thank you!
And next week I will be looking at the other three nominees on the shortlist.
But finally tonight, a piece of unexpectedly terrifying telly
first broadcast 20 years ago today.
Following a public outcry and a slew of complaints,
it was deemed too disturbing ever to be repeated in full -
quite an achievement for an entirely fictitious spoof documentary.
But here, for one night only, resurrected from the BBC crypt,
Ghostwatch will play us out.
And remember, it's not real. Good night.
Sarah, Sarah, are you all right?
Suzanne's a lot quieter now.
But they won't move. They won't listen to me.
I think Suzanne's in some kind of a state of shock.
What do I do? I can't leave them.
Sorry, I've got to take this out. It's making a terrible noise.
I don't know what's going on.
Can you hear this?
Smithy? Michael? Dr Pascoe?
There are credible noises
coming from the walls and from the ceiling.
# Tonight on Halloween. #