Jonathan Miller Arena


Jonathan Miller

Documentary exploring the life of Sir Jonathan Miller CBE - a theatre and opera director, humorist and television presenter. With contributors including Kevin Spacey and Eric Idle.


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Transcript


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ORCHESTRAL INTRODUCTION

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MAN SINGS COMIC OPERA

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And then all this is going on in the kitchen at the same time, you see.

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When you give him the soup, if you could do it like that,

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go, "Hello, are you hungry for soup?"

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Si, si, with, with, with gloves.

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It's almost impossible to say what my next guest is and what he does.

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Someone once said of him that he plays with the world

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like an inventive child with a box of plasticine.

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It was a brave attempt to describe the scope of his interests

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and his achievements.

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He is one of those rare and enviable human beings

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who excels at everything he tries.

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His first love was medicine.

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And that's the paradox of the brain,

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because although it has no experience of itself,

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although it has no immediate sensations of its own,

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it's only because we have an organ like this

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that we can have any sensations at all,

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or any experiences, for that matter.

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And after becoming a doctor, switched to the stage

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and became famous on both sides of the Atlantic

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as one of the Beyond The Fringe team.

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I wonder how many of these people

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have realised that Jonathan Miller's a Jew.

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Well, in fact I'm not really a Jew, just Jew-ish,

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not the whole hog, you see.

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Ladies and gentlemen, Doctor Jonathan Miller.

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And there is the garden.

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When we first came into this house, nearly 50 years ago,

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that magnolia tree was only about as high as the first joint,

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and it's now reached up almost to the top level of the house.

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My father was one of the founders of child psychiatry.

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That ensued as a result of the work that he did

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during the First World War with what was then called shell shock,

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which we now call, you know, post-traumatic disorders.

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And in fact, one of his drawings is one of his patients in,

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I think, 1920, drowsing under hypnosis.

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And I've got a bust upstairs

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of another one of his shell-shocked patients which he did.

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The dignity of this man is amazing

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and I do think it's a rather remarkable piece of handwork

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on my father's part.

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My father, when he came back from France,

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he worked in a hospital near the Tate Gallery

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and there were a lot of patients suffering from shell shock.

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And you see these decorously seated people at the ends of their beds,

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but just look what it's titled,

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Ward 7 Hysterics.

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Did he want you to be a doctor?

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I think that he was pleased that I became a doctor,

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I think he was more pleased that I was becoming what,

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I think I rather flinchingly call, an intellectual.

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Did he approve of your work in the theatre?

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I think he was very bewildered by the fact that

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I had drifted away from it.

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And I can remember when I was nearly 40,

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going to him in his consulting room where he would meet me,

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and he would ask me,

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"Have you decided what you're going to be yet?"

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This is a portrait of, ah, my mother by Bernard Meninsky.

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Um, I think it was done shortly before I was born.

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She published her first novel when she was only 22 or 23.

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I didn't know she was a novelist,

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and she used to sit on the other side of the table,

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when I was a little boy, typing, and I just thought she was a typist.

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Both of them were from immigrant Jewish origins,

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so that I had these two parents who were in fact,

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you know, old-fashioned sort of Jewish Bloomsbury intellectuals.

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I sense that there wasn't an enormous amount of warmth,

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which is so different from our family,

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where there was an enormous amount of love and warmth.

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And I think that that was so different

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to the way he'd been brought up,

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and I think it was quite a sort of cold, hard, academic environment.

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We were living in St John's Wood and I went to a prep school just,

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ah, ah, near us, and then I went to St Paul's.

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I was in the biology form with two or three friends,

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Oliver Sacks and Eric Korn

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and a number of other north London Jewish boys

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who just were passionate about biology.

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This very tall gangly figure with red hair

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came up to me and introduced himself,

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and we became fast friends pretty quickly.

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He impressed me then much as he does now,

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he charms,

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he informs,

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he very rarely mocks.

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We fell under the influence of this extraordinary biology teacher

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called Mister Pask, who simply disregarded the standard curriculum

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and just went on teaching us and teaching us everything he could,

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and made us dissect and do experiments

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and do a lot of microscopy and what was called histology,

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making sections of plants and animals and staining them

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and he allowed us to take extremely short lunch hours

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and he didn't acknowledge weekends.

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On a Saturday at, during the winter, and the early spring,

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we had to go to the Natural History Museum.

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This is a museum I heard about

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almost as soon as I came to Florence.

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It revived my original interest at school in zoology.

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Gradually I made my way through and I became absolutely astounded

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by the astonishing collection of specimens,

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it just seemed extraordinary.

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We each had phyla, our groups of animals of our own.

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Um, for Eric it was sea cucumbers, or Holothuroideans,

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for me it was cephalopods, you see them all around here,

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sort of cuttlefish and things,

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for Jonathan it was polychaetes,

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and these are rather elaborate worms,

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some of them brilliantly coloured.

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Jonathan was fascinated by their symmetry.

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So on we go,

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rising up the evolutionary tree,

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and we're now coming to, ah, the insects.

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And now, of course,

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we arrive at this astonishing collection of vertebrates.

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And this was where my breath was taken away,

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by this extraordinary display.

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It's almost as if it's an illuminated static version

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of Noah's Ark.

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We know now that none of these are the product of creation,

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that each one, each individual is a self-made individual,

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it is not designed by anyone,

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it is the product of a genetic process.

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And I suppose it must have been very hard

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in the early history of humanity, to conceive how these could come about

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by anything other than a craftsman, anything other than a creator.

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And really, this astonishing revolution

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that took place in thought at the end of the 19th century,

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with the publication of The Origin Of Species in 1859,

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at least opened the gate

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to an alternative way of visualising the variety that we see.

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We were all in love with evolutionary biology and Darwin,

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we were all atheists then and Pask was an atheist,

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although we also felt there was nothing much to discuss,

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I mean, Darwin was much more interesting.

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We would go up to the Scottish Marine Biological Station

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in the Clyde Estuary, a place called Millport,

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and study marine biology and collect animals

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and classify them and dissect them,

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and in the evening we would go out and collect sea urchins.

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The sea urchins came in from the deep water

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to spawn on the rocky shore by the biological station,

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and we used to collect them as they made perfect models

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for watching the process of fertilisation and development

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back in the lab.

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We would collect their eggs and their sperms and fertilise them,

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and watch them dividing, and I became acquainted with something

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which has remained a sort of passionate interest of mine,

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which is the history of embryology,

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how do things make themselves from such unpromising beginnings.

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He we were seeing something which neither Aristotle nor Harvey

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had been able to visualise,

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a single cell surrounded by a fluttering halo of sperm,

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only one of which would eventually succeed

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in piercing the membrane of the egg and fertilising it.

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For Jonathan it has a rather extra significance,

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because he took Rachel for a week to Millport in the holidays.

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And I think that a certain amount of cementing was done there.

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I think our gang all fell in love with Rachel,

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as Jonathan did.

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There's my wife looking at things.

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Have you found, have you found anything you liked?

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-But have you seen... come on.

-I like that table, have you seen?

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-It's a wonderful table.

-No let's go, let's go and have a look.

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And in a somewhat,

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a sometimes turbulent and unpredictable and brilliant

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and hyper-manic sort of life, Rachel has been, I think,

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this wonderful anchor in serenity and hearth and home.

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I don't think centrifugal Jonathan could have done so much,

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had it not been for Rachel there at the centre.

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For clamping things.

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And there's another here, that, that one was here.

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Oh, it's wonderful, yes.

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CHOIR SINGS HYMN: "Immortal, Invisible"

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He came up and read medicine,

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so at St John's College,

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a foxy looking fellow you see, still very young, rather keyed up,

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talked a great deal about the mind, it was always the mind in those days.

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And he liked to talk about scientific things,

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and philosophical things.

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This is Second Court, St John's.

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I used to study, from time to time,

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in what used to be a sort of annexe to the library over there.

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And I remember reading, not medicine,

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but reading Gilbert Ryle's Concept Of Mind,

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and there I was, a medical student reading philosophy.

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And I think that happened to my father when he came here,

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I don't think my father, when he arrived here in about 1907,

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was determined to do medicine.

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I'm not absolutely certain.

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But what he did in his first two years,

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was to do a thing called the moral science tripos,

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which meant that he was studying philosophy.

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And my father's supervisor when he was doing the moral science tripos,

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was a man called W H R Rivers.

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Now Rivers had been a researcher in vision and then, quite unexpectedly,

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in 1898, a colleague of his, who was a zoologist,

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who'd been studying molluscs

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and invertebrate animals in the Torres Strait,

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up in the northern tip of Queensland,

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came running back and met with Rivers and explained to him

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that the culture of the Torres Straits was rapidly disintegrating,

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"So I want you to come back with me

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"and record this culture, before it vanishes."

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So Rivers went back with this zoologist

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and also with my wife's great-uncle,

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a man called Seligman, who was a doctor,

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and a couple of other people,

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and they went out to the Torres Strait

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and started, virtually, British social anthropology.

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And they came back and wrote this book.

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And many years later, in 1998,

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100 years after that expedition,

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I went back to the Torres Strait myself

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and did a documentary about the people.

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What do you think was the value of recording the social practices

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and the rituals, because you all knew how to do them anyway?

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What did you feel was important

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about it being written down and recorded?

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Well, to be honest,

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today we go back to those six volumes to tell us what we dance.

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-Really?

-Yeah, it was a gap.

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Do you feel the anthropologists got it wrong at any time?

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-They asked the wrong questions.

-Ah.

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Tell me some of the wrong questions.

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-There are things that we don't want to tell them.

-Uh-huh.

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Yeah, there were practices that is,

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even I cannot speak in front of the camera.

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Well now, what sort of practices, ah?

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-It's a taboo thing, you know, yeah.

-Yes.

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When I was at Cambridge,

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I became associated with what was then a secret society

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called The Apostles, of which I became a member.

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I mean, it's something that you can't really talk about very much,

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cos it still has a certain sort of discreet,

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if not secrecy, a sort of modesty.

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There were are, there's King's.

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It met in King's College,

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in the rooms of EM Forster,

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as it happened, on Sunday nights, and we went there and read a paper,

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each person a paper, to each his own opinions, you see,

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about usually some topical, sometimes outrightly philosophical subject.

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Really, I really must ask,

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I really must ask not so much why questions,

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not so much why questions, as how questions.

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And it seems to be the philosophers,

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or at least they like to call themselves philosophers,

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philosophers who start by asking why questions,

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end up by only speaking to the sort, ah, ah, Friday got into bed with me,

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or to take one from real life, um...

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There's too much Tuesday in my beetroot salad,

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something that I cannot eat.

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He was a joker par excellence,

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who made a lot of jokes,

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very funny jokes, and that's one of the reasons,

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right from the start, why we cherished his company.

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He was an extremely funny man and still is very, very funny.

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When I was a very small boy, when I was about 12,

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I discovered that I have a certain capacity to imitate clucking hens,

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and also was rather a good imitator

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of the sound of trains going along.

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IMITATES TRAIN

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I don't know where that came from.

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At about 5.00 or 6.00 in the morning,

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you can often hear extremely depressed sounds

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coming from the lion house.

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You can often hear these sounds of acute leonine depression

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echoing over the empty park, it's sort of,

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Oooh, God!

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Oooooooooohhhhhh ohhh!

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He's an amazing mimic.

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And one of the things that you see when you watch The Zoo At Winter,

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and I remember as a child being taken to the zoo with him,

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is that he liked to pretend to be the animals.

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MIMICS MONKEY

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Quiet then, the public's coming in.

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If I'd bring my friends over, you always wanted him to be funny,

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but in fact they actually loved him being serious,

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because he would come and he'd go, "What are you interested in?"

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And they'd say, "Well I'm thinking of doing, ah, biology at Oxford."

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And so then he's say, "Well, do you know about?"

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And you'd go, oh, God no, please,

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and then two hours later, they had learnt everything

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there was to know about biology from my father.

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And they would come out going, "Oh, I'm just so inspired,"

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and you just think, I wish he'd been funny with them.

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A lot of my life has been yielding

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to unsolicited invitations to do things

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and yielding rather weak-mindedly to these invitations.

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Um, and when I was working as a house surgeon,

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as my first job at University College,

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I was working in casualty when,

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a man who worked for the Edinburgh Festival, John Bassett,

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who had been at Oxford with Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett,

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asked if I would like to participate in a late night revue

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at the Edinburgh Festival, because the officials of the festival

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were getting exasperated by the way in which the fringe productions

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were outshining the official productions,

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so would I come and do something which was beyond the fringe.

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-Perkins.

-Sir?

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-I want you to lay down your life.

-Yes, Sir.

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We need a futile gesture at this stage.

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-It'll raise the whole tone of the war.

-Yes, Sir.

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-Get up on a crate, Perkins.

-Sir.

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-Pop over to Bremen.

-Yes, Sir.

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-Take a shufty.

-Yes.

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-Don't come back.

-Right you are.

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Goodbye, Perkins. God, I wish I was going too.

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Goodbye, Sir, or is it au revoir?

0:21:590:22:02

No, Perkins.

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The show was so astonishingly successful

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and it got written up as if it was a great breakthrough in comedy.

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And we were almost immediately invited to come and do it in London.

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It's absolutely spiffing, it really had my feet tapping.

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Now let's get down to God.

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God, God, who is he? Where is he?

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And above all, why is he?

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-And of course, why is he above all?

-Now...

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I didn't realise you could laugh at the army, the Queen,

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the Prime Minister, ah, the police,

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every single authority figure was held up for mockery.

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And that just, it was so liberating

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that I know what people say when they say,

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"Oh, Python changed my life," because that changed my life,

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and I guess I wanted to be a comedian from that moment.

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Have you got any questions you'd like to fire off about God, Dudley?

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Ah, yes, well, vicar...

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Oh, now don't call me vicar, call me Dick. That's the sort of vicar I am.

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And he did a sort of, it was very physically funny,

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and he's, this sort of way he talks, and his high intelligence

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and his wit were, was just electrifying.

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In the old days, in the old days,

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people used to think of the saints as pious old milksops.

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But they weren't, they weren't, the old saints were rough,

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toothless, ah, as you were. They were, they were tough,

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ruthless tearaways who knew where they were going.

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Matthew, Mark, Luke and John...

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ALL: Went through life with their head screwed on.

0:23:540:23:56

BOTH: They went outside with nothing on, had a bathe in the...

0:23:560:23:59

Thank you very much.

0:23:590:24:00

At that time, New York was very exciting.

0:24:130:24:16

I became acquainted with New York intellectuals,

0:24:160:24:19

with the people who were founding the New York Review Of Books,

0:24:190:24:21

for whom I wrote, and working for The New Yorker,

0:24:210:24:25

and at the same time going up from time to time to go on grand rounds

0:24:250:24:28

at Mount Sinai Hospital in neurology.

0:24:280:24:33

Um, and the freedom of being able to cross disciplines

0:24:330:24:37

in ways which I think would have been much more difficult in England,

0:24:370:24:41

and meeting all sorts of very interesting people,

0:24:410:24:45

both in the theatre,

0:24:450:24:47

but also writers and authors and musicians and comedians.

0:24:470:24:52

And when I came back to England, I thought well,

0:24:540:24:59

well it might have been rather nice to learn how to make film.

0:24:590:25:02

So I went and managed to get an interview with Huw Wheldon,

0:25:020:25:06

who was the editor and presenter of Monitor,

0:25:060:25:11

this was this famous arts programme.

0:25:110:25:14

Good evening.

0:25:140:25:15

For a long time we've wanted to make a film about a drama school.

0:25:150:25:19

And I was asking him questions about where I could get

0:25:190:25:22

a sort of training in film making.

0:25:220:25:25

Already, you see, I was yielding to showbiz

0:25:250:25:28

and beginning to think that perhaps I was going to do more of that

0:25:280:25:31

and less of medicine.

0:25:310:25:32

And he said, "Yes, yes, well you could do that,"

0:25:320:25:36

and he looked very meditative, and then suddenly said,

0:25:360:25:40

"How would you like to, ah, present and edit, ah, Monitor?"

0:25:400:25:44

We were fascinated by it and I think you will be too.

0:25:440:25:48

The chutzpah of Huw Weldon suggesting it actually,

0:25:480:25:51

and the chutzpah of Jonathan accepting it, is equally surprising.

0:25:510:25:55

Because, ah, to actually introduce a programme weekly and edit it,

0:25:550:25:58

to choose what's to go in as well as to actually front it,

0:25:580:26:01

find intelligent things to say, but of course that's not a problem for Jonathan,

0:26:010:26:05

he didn't have any problem finding intelligent things to say, it was having to stop him.

0:26:050:26:08

As a novice, as an outsider,

0:26:080:26:12

I was not bound by the formal conventions of people who had,

0:26:120:26:17

as it were, climbed slowly through the television ladder.

0:26:170:26:20

Um, and it seemed to me that there were alternative ways

0:26:200:26:23

of shooting interviews, including for example,

0:26:230:26:26

in a programme I did about Peter Brook's rehearsals

0:26:260:26:29

for the Marat/Sade,

0:26:290:26:31

ah, I didn't want to have a fixed camera set up like we have here,

0:26:310:26:35

I said, "Why don't we just walk around

0:26:350:26:37

"and have the camera on someone's shoulder

0:26:370:26:39

"and, ah, just deal with it in a very vernacular way."

0:26:390:26:43

And it seems that, that you've got a special problem here

0:26:430:26:46

in which every actor in the play is mad.

0:26:460:26:49

I began to move into areas which Wheldon had,

0:26:510:26:55

had really not exactly abstained from,

0:26:550:26:59

but which he didn't involve himself with.

0:26:590:27:01

Because I'd been and spent so much time in New York,

0:27:040:27:07

I was interested in the New York Intelligentsia.

0:27:070:27:09

And I got attacked for doing my first long interview,

0:27:110:27:14

a full length programme of interviewing Susan Sontag,

0:27:140:27:17

and no-one had ever heard of her,

0:27:170:27:19

they didn't know who she was, and they were absolutely outraged

0:27:190:27:22

by what they thought was this,

0:27:220:27:24

this New York sort of feminist pretension.

0:27:240:27:27

I moseyed over to Philip Johnson's modest stash on Park.

0:27:270:27:31

The Seagram Building gleamed like a switchblade in the autumn sun.

0:27:310:27:36

I done something out of just being out,

0:27:540:27:58

outside that old movie theatre,

0:27:580:28:01

which I, I, I don't think I, I would have got, if I'd been inside.

0:28:010:28:04

Inside, no, no, no.

0:28:040:28:06

Ah, ah, after, after all, ah, art, art itself is,

0:28:080:28:11

is essentially phoney, I know that, ah, I mean I know that,

0:28:110:28:17

that true phoniness has a kind of reality of its own.

0:28:170:28:20

Um, but, but I think that really if, if you're a critic, it,

0:28:200:28:24

it's much more relevant to talk about what it's like being a critic.

0:28:240:28:28

Yes, yes, be, be, to, to talk about oneself in fact.

0:28:280:28:32

I think so, yes.

0:28:320:28:33

I would salute Jonathan for, and take the piss out of it as well,

0:28:330:28:37

but I would also congratulate him for, for doing that sort of thing.

0:28:370:28:41

I think, yeah, I think it was just going out on a limb

0:28:410:28:45

and good, good for them.

0:28:450:28:47

Within a year of Jonathan relinquishing the editorial reins

0:28:530:28:58

and the editorial sludge, as you might call it,

0:28:580:29:00

of having to be worrying about things week in and week out,

0:29:000:29:04

there he was making films for us,

0:29:040:29:06

including a marvellous film called The Drinking Party.

0:29:060:29:09

I was speaking to a colleague of mine called Leo Aylen,

0:29:120:29:15

who was a, a classicist, who said, "Wouldn't it be interesting to do

0:29:150:29:20

"a dramatisation of the symposium, or, and call it The Drinking Party."

0:29:200:29:24

And I thought of a way of doing this,

0:29:240:29:27

without having people dressed in awful classical costumes.

0:29:270:29:31

Intellectuals in the subsequent couple of thousand years

0:29:310:29:34

had often re-performed Plato's dialogues

0:29:340:29:38

as a celebration of his importance.

0:29:380:29:40

And I thought,

0:29:400:29:42

well wouldn't it be interesting to stage it at a school

0:29:420:29:45

and have boys having a reunion,

0:29:450:29:47

and I'll just have this group of old boys coming back

0:29:470:29:50

with their master, played by Leo McKern,

0:29:500:29:53

who also was going to play Socrates,

0:29:530:29:56

so that we would perform and discuss the symposium.

0:29:560:29:59

So, I propose that as love is the oldest,

0:29:590:30:05

so is love the most honourable of the gods,

0:30:050:30:09

and most powerful in assisting men to achieve honour and happiness,

0:30:090:30:14

both here and hereafter.

0:30:140:30:17

THUNDER RUMBLES

0:30:220:30:23

And then I had to accommodate myself to the fact

0:30:230:30:26

that we had a rainstorm in the middle of the show,

0:30:260:30:28

and that stopped us.

0:30:280:30:29

And then I suddenly realised

0:30:290:30:30

there was something absolutely wonderful

0:30:300:30:32

about the way in which we had placed umbrellas

0:30:320:30:35

over the dining table, outdoors on the terrace.

0:30:350:30:37

And, ah, so I shot five or six different shots

0:30:370:30:41

of these wonderful umbrellas overlapping with one another,

0:30:410:30:45

and I began at that moment,

0:30:450:30:47

although it might be seem by hindsight,

0:30:470:30:50

to establish my interest in abstract formats.

0:30:500:30:52

He'd somehow become a top-line director overnight -

0:30:540:30:58

I don't know how he did it,

0:30:580:30:59

because he didn't do lots of 15-minute short films,

0:30:590:31:01

in the way that Ken Russell and John Schlesinger had both done,

0:31:010:31:04

and he could handle actors.

0:31:040:31:06

So I don't think that I would have been in the least bit surprised

0:31:060:31:09

when he came back and said, "I want to do Alice in Wonderland."

0:31:090:31:11

It seemed to me, the more I read it again,

0:31:150:31:18

to be the expression of all sorts of Victorian attitudes

0:31:180:31:22

to the mystery and the mysterious sanctity of childhood,

0:31:220:31:26

seeing things which he or she would, as they grew up, would see no more.

0:31:260:31:32

And I thought, well let's do it with a lot of interesting actors,

0:31:320:31:37

as if they were, in fact, all people with whom this child

0:31:370:31:40

would have been acquainted as the daughter of an Oxford Don.

0:31:400:31:45

So I decided to get rid, at one stroke, of all the animal heads,

0:31:500:31:55

I simply wanted to make it a sort of melancholy journey to growing up.

0:31:550:31:59

I was very fortunate in the speed with which I was able to choose,

0:32:060:32:12

ah, the person who played Alice.

0:32:120:32:15

We advertised in newspapers and hundreds of photographs arrived,

0:32:150:32:20

and then this rather extraordinary, solemn child,

0:32:200:32:24

who I think was no older than about 13, turned up.

0:32:240:32:28

And within about 20 minutes I said, "That's the girl."

0:32:280:32:32

Anne-Marie Mallik.

0:32:320:32:34

Jonathan? Hello.

0:32:340:32:36

Well, hello, long time no see.

0:32:360:32:38

Very long time, 40 something years.

0:32:380:32:40

How very nice to see, yes it, it is.

0:32:400:32:42

The first time we met was when you came to the BBC.

0:32:420:32:46

Yes.

0:32:460:32:47

And, ah, can you remember what I, what I asked you to do?

0:32:470:32:53

You asked me to recite something.

0:32:530:32:56

Really?

0:32:560:32:57

You did, I think it was You Are Old, Father William.

0:32:570:32:59

Oh, how extraordinary.

0:32:590:33:01

You are old, Father William, the young man said,

0:33:010:33:04

and you're hair's become very white.

0:33:040:33:06

And yet you incessantly stand on your head,

0:33:070:33:10

do you think at your age it is right?

0:33:100:33:13

You explained very clearly about being in a dream

0:33:130:33:15

and no facial expression and what, all of that.

0:33:150:33:19

Yes.

0:33:190:33:20

-Which was therefore relatively easy.

-Yes.

0:33:200:33:23

Em, or seemed, in...

0:33:230:33:24

But nevertheless, I mean,

0:33:240:33:26

although I perhaps didn't ask you to do anything

0:33:260:33:28

in a way conspicuously expressive,

0:33:280:33:31

whatever you did was in fact absolutely naturally expressive,

0:33:310:33:36

and you managed to carry off this wonderful sort of solemn,

0:33:360:33:40

mirthless appearance,

0:33:400:33:42

not amused by anything that you were surrounded by.

0:33:420:33:45

Yes.

0:33:450:33:46

And talking to people.

0:33:460:33:48

And of course you had the opportunity

0:33:480:33:50

to meet all these extraordinarily famous actors as well.

0:33:500:33:52

No room, no room, no room.

0:33:520:33:56

There's no room, no.

0:33:560:33:58

There's plenty of room.

0:33:580:34:01

Oh, oh.

0:34:010:34:02

Have some wine.

0:34:020:34:04

-I don't see any wine.

-There isn't any.

0:34:040:34:07

It wasn't very civil of you to offer it.

0:34:070:34:09

It wasn't very civil of you to sit down before you're invited.

0:34:090:34:12

I thought you did invite me,

0:34:120:34:14

and anyway, the table's laid for a great deal more than three.

0:34:140:34:18

Ah, your, erm, your, your hair wants cutting.

0:34:180:34:23

You shouldn't make personal remarks. It's very rude.

0:34:230:34:25

You didn't seem in the least bit impressed,

0:34:250:34:28

or made anxious by the fact that you were dealing with someone

0:34:280:34:32

who was so well known - you just simply were the person you were playing.

0:34:320:34:37

Yes, I suppose that was a benefit of having much older parents.

0:34:370:34:42

Ah, yes.

0:34:420:34:43

Because they had friends who were older as well,

0:34:430:34:49

and reasonably important people in their own lifestyles,

0:34:490:34:52

so I'd always been there as a small child with,

0:34:520:34:56

with people who were aware of their own consequence.

0:34:560:34:59

INDISTINCT NOISE

0:34:590:35:02

SHE HAMMERS ON DOOR

0:35:020:35:03

You'll never make them people hear in there, you see,

0:35:070:35:10

cos they're, like they're making too much noise themselves.

0:35:100:35:12

I mean you, you follow what I mean, you can hear them.

0:35:120:35:15

Well how am I to get in, then?

0:35:150:35:18

There were moments in which the performers,

0:35:190:35:21

quite spontaneously, came up with a paradoxical speech,

0:35:210:35:27

which seemed to be consistent with Carroll's own logic.

0:35:270:35:31

Oh, excuse me a moment, ah,

0:35:330:35:34

something seems to be cropping up in this, ah, area over here.

0:35:340:35:38

He was a logician and he loved logical jokes.

0:35:380:35:42

And there was this moment in which John Bird, playing the frog footman,

0:35:420:35:46

he said, and this came completely spontaneously,

0:35:460:35:48

I didn't have to tell him, he just came up with it, he said...

0:35:480:35:51

Now then, I'll tell you what I'll do,

0:35:510:35:54

I'll tell you what I'll do for you, nothing.

0:35:540:35:58

How's that, any good to you at all, nothing?

0:35:580:36:00

I mean I wouldn't be able to do it straight away, em,

0:36:000:36:03

I'll say that, you see,

0:36:030:36:04

I couldn't, couldn't possibly do it straight away,

0:36:040:36:06

because I've got all these things cropping up, you see,

0:36:060:36:09

I have to deal with.

0:36:090:36:10

I, well I mean you saw just now that something cropped up there,

0:36:100:36:13

you see, and I get,

0:36:130:36:14

that's the same type of thing I get cropping up all the time, you see.

0:36:140:36:18

So naturally I've got my hands full but, ah,

0:36:180:36:21

if I was to do nothing for you,

0:36:210:36:23

I can't promise I could, but if I was to do nothing for you,

0:36:230:36:26

I'd have to sort of find the time, you see, when I could squeeze it in.

0:36:260:36:29

Do you see what I mean?

0:36:290:36:30

I think you're absolutely idiotic.

0:36:300:36:33

Well, maybe I am, maybe I'm not.

0:36:330:36:38

Jonathan is a great encourager of that sort of thing, and indeed,

0:36:400:36:43

the more canonical the thing he's dealing in,

0:36:430:36:48

or he's, that, ah, the more he, he likes to kind of, em,

0:36:480:36:53

manipulate the edges of it.

0:36:550:36:57

I think most people who liked the film

0:36:570:37:00

felt that it actually had reproduced

0:37:000:37:03

this curious inconsequential disconnectedness of dreaming.

0:37:030:37:06

-Yes.

-That somehow you were in one place and then,

0:37:060:37:09

without having to be transported, or without having to go anywhere,

0:37:090:37:14

you found yourself somewhere else.

0:37:140:37:16

Else, yes.

0:37:160:37:18

WHISPERS:

0:37:190:37:20

The trial's beginning, the trial's beginning.

0:37:200:37:24

CHOIR SING: "Immortal, Invisible"

0:37:270:37:30

You see I based all these rooms in a court...

0:38:030:38:06

no courtroom would have had these, it was half based on

0:38:060:38:09

what a girl of your age at that time would have imagined.

0:38:090:38:15

-Hold your tongue.

-I won't.

0:38:150:38:17

Off with her head! Off with her head!

0:38:170:38:20

Off with her head!

0:38:200:38:22

Off with her head!

0:38:220:38:23

Off with her head!

0:38:230:38:26

Off with her head!

0:38:260:38:29

DUCKS QUACK

0:38:290:38:31

DUCKS QUACK

0:38:350:38:36

CHURCH BELLS CHIME

0:38:380:38:40

-Are you glad you did it, in the end?

-Oh, hugely glad I did it.

0:38:430:38:46

Jonathan Miller, who produced Alice in Wonderland for television,

0:38:580:39:01

is tackling Sheridan's School For Scandal

0:39:010:39:04

for his theatre debut in the provinces.

0:39:040:39:06

It's very pleasant to come to a new town,

0:39:060:39:08

and it's very pleasant to come to a town which has got

0:39:080:39:11

a great reputation for theatre,

0:39:110:39:12

and where you know that you'll find fresh talent,

0:39:120:39:15

which isn't quite so shop-soiled as the London talent is.

0:39:150:39:18

When I first worked with him, which was at the Nottingham Playhouse,

0:39:190:39:22

he was really beginning to direct

0:39:220:39:25

and for a very, very, very bright man,

0:39:250:39:27

he never talked down to you when you were a young actress,

0:39:270:39:31

so he sort of made you feel confident about yourself,

0:39:310:39:34

and felt that you could sort of do anything really.

0:39:340:39:37

I found that the actors with whom I worked

0:39:370:39:40

were amazingly tolerant of my amateur status,

0:39:400:39:46

and found that I actually brought to the rehearsal

0:39:460:39:50

a sort of playful, ah, inventiveness,

0:39:500:39:54

which perhaps was entirely due to the fact

0:39:540:39:57

that I had not been trained.

0:39:570:39:59

Oh, that's new.

0:40:200:40:22

Jonathan Miller of that ilk!

0:40:220:40:23

That's, ah, yes, now how long ago is it since we...?

0:40:230:40:27

Ho-ho, 1988.

0:40:270:40:29

But you weren't here when Larry was here, were you?

0:40:290:40:32

No, sadly not.

0:40:320:40:33

And that's 40 years ago, I think,

0:40:330:40:35

when I was first here working for him.

0:40:350:40:37

I was rehearsing something, and someone said,

0:40:400:40:42

"Laurence Olivier's on the phone."

0:40:420:40:44

And I said, "Oh, pull the other one."

0:40:440:40:45

And he said, "Oh, no, no, seriously, he's on the phone."

0:40:450:40:48

And indeed it was Laurence Olivier,

0:40:480:40:50

and he was inviting me to come to the National

0:40:500:40:53

to direct a production of the Merchant of Venice.

0:40:530:40:55

I remember him saying to me, "Dear Jonathan,"

0:40:570:40:59

and he had decided by that time he was going to play Shylock,

0:40:590:41:03

he said, "We must at all costs avoid offending the Hebrews,

0:41:030:41:06

"God I love them so."

0:41:060:41:09

And, ah, I said, well the best way of avoiding offending them

0:41:090:41:12

is not to come on looking like something out of Oliver.

0:41:120:41:17

Ah, and so we got him to dress like an ordinary businessman.

0:41:170:41:22

Hath not a Jew eyes?

0:41:240:41:26

Hath not a Jew hands,

0:41:300:41:33

organs,

0:41:330:41:34

dimensions,

0:41:340:41:36

senses,

0:41:360:41:39

affection,

0:41:400:41:43

passions?

0:41:430:41:44

If you prick us, do we not bleed?

0:41:460:41:48

Tickle us, do we not laugh?

0:41:500:41:52

If you poison us, do we not die?

0:41:520:41:55

And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

0:41:550:41:59

If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.

0:41:590:42:03

There's a wonderful moment in the, in the play

0:42:030:42:06

when he hears that Antonio's ships have been sunk,

0:42:060:42:09

and he has to say, "Is it true, is it true?"

0:42:090:42:12

And, ah, he had a moment of triumph,

0:42:120:42:14

and I reminded him of a wonderful little piece of newsreel

0:42:140:42:18

I'd seen of Hitler in Compiegne,

0:42:180:42:20

the surrender of France, when Hitler suddenly did this funny little jig.

0:42:200:42:24

I said, "It would be rather nice to,

0:42:240:42:27

"for you to do a funny little jig like that,

0:42:270:42:29

"and it would be rather ironic, though probably undetectable

0:42:290:42:32

"to the audience, for you, a Jew, to be representing Hitler."

0:42:320:42:37

In luck, in luck?

0:42:390:42:41

Hath an argosy cast away, coming from Tripolis.

0:42:410:42:45

HE LAUGHS HYSTERICALLY

0:42:460:42:47

He sank, he died.

0:42:470:42:51

HE CONTINUES LAUGHING

0:42:510:42:52

Is it true, is it true?

0:42:520:42:55

I think one of the things which I brought to performance

0:42:560:43:00

and to the directing of performance,

0:43:000:43:03

was prompted and inspired by the, ah, training I'd received

0:43:030:43:07

not as a theatre person, but as a doctor.

0:43:070:43:11

I'd been taught to look for the small details,

0:43:110:43:14

which people, the, the, ah, the,

0:43:140:43:18

which, by means of which the doctor infers what might be wrong,

0:43:180:43:21

little tiny details of how people carry themselves,

0:43:210:43:24

how they talk, what they can't do, what they can do.

0:43:240:43:27

And that, it seemed to me that these negligible details

0:43:270:43:32

which you're trained to keep your eye open for

0:43:320:43:35

were absolutely all that the theatre was about.

0:43:350:43:39

I explored one play, King Lear, three times with him,

0:43:390:43:43

and Jonathan told a story of working on geriatric wards

0:43:430:43:48

with very old, very ill people

0:43:480:43:51

who had sometimes senile dementia, but they have a memory of something.

0:43:510:43:56

And even though, and he remembered one old man

0:43:560:43:59

whose daughter came to see him,

0:43:590:44:02

and at the end of the time when they could,

0:44:020:44:05

when they had to leave, the visitors left, he got out of bed,

0:44:050:44:09

because he was a gent, and saw her to the door,

0:44:090:44:13

quite unaware that he didn't have any pyjama bottoms on.

0:44:130:44:17

And it was that sort of human detail

0:44:170:44:21

and endearing detail that Jonathan tried to weave in to what he did.

0:44:210:44:27

Pray, do not mock me, I'm a very foolish, fond old man,

0:44:280:44:34

four score and upward, ah, not an hour more nor less.

0:44:340:44:37

And to deal plainly, ah, I fear I am not in my perfect mind.

0:44:390:44:45

Methinks I should know you,

0:44:470:44:50

and know this man,

0:44:500:44:53

yet I am doubtful for I am mainly ignorant what place this is.

0:44:560:45:00

All the strength I have, I remembers not these garments,

0:45:030:45:09

nor I know not where I did lodge last night.

0:45:090:45:12

Well, of course as a medical student,

0:45:370:45:38

I became accustomed to this sort of thing which, ah,

0:45:380:45:42

I think the, the ordinary person would find quite repulsive.

0:45:420:45:46

But when you realise that these are not actually dead human beings,

0:45:460:45:52

but are models made with meticulous detail

0:45:520:45:56

by a craftsman working in wax,

0:45:560:45:59

they perhaps are slightly less repulsive,

0:45:590:46:02

if indeed they're repulsive at all.

0:46:020:46:04

There's something very touching about these muscular creatures here,

0:46:180:46:23

in spite of having lost their skin, they stand with a dignity

0:46:250:46:30

which is inconsistent with their predicament.

0:46:300:46:35

Hello.

0:46:370:46:39

The details are quite astonishing.

0:46:430:46:45

It's very hard to understand how they were made.

0:46:450:46:48

But it's amazing that so few people come to see them.

0:46:500:46:53

But this, of course,

0:46:570:46:58

raises deeply interesting questions about the nature of disgust,

0:46:580:47:04

what it is for something to be disgusting, rather than interesting,

0:47:040:47:08

and whether or not disgust is compatible

0:47:080:47:13

with aesthetic interest,

0:47:130:47:17

whether you can look at these things without in fact recoiling

0:47:170:47:21

from the fact that we have a suspicion about interiors

0:47:210:47:25

and we feel that they are disgusting.

0:47:250:47:30

The only way in which we can make an inventory

0:47:310:47:33

of all these furnishings and fittings,

0:47:330:47:35

is by having a look inside someone else,

0:47:350:47:38

and that's exactly what I've done here.

0:47:380:47:40

All right, let's make a start somewhere,

0:47:410:47:44

so let's have a look at the heart.

0:47:440:47:46

Well, you can see at once that it's nothing like an orange,

0:47:470:47:50

or a grapefruit, I mean it's not even heart shaped,

0:47:500:47:53

in fact it hasn't got any particular shape at all,

0:47:530:47:56

it's just a flabby mass, covered with fat.

0:47:560:48:00

That's because it's empty of blood now and it's dead,

0:48:000:48:03

but when it was filled with blood and active,

0:48:030:48:05

this organ was contracting and expanding 70 times a minute,

0:48:050:48:10

for the best part of 70 years,

0:48:100:48:12

propelling blood around the person's body in one direction.

0:48:120:48:16

Jonathan was really the consummate teacher,

0:48:270:48:31

this is really what he wanted to do, he wanted to teach.

0:48:310:48:34

I was determined with the designer, Colin Lowrie,

0:48:360:48:39

to build a set which was the inside of Jonathan's head.

0:48:390:48:43

And, ah, this was really a, a room, a place, a jumble,

0:48:430:48:47

a sort of thing when, which existed and didn't really exist at all,

0:48:470:48:51

that we could change and move around and add things to, and so on.

0:48:510:48:54

If I light a fire on this rather impressive piece of machinery here,

0:48:540:48:59

energy is released in the form of heat and some light,

0:49:030:49:05

and of course rather a lot of sound.

0:49:050:49:07

I was interested in the philosophical principles

0:49:070:49:10

which had guided, ah, medical development

0:49:100:49:13

and particularly my interest in what I would call models and metaphors,

0:49:130:49:19

the way in which models and metaphors

0:49:190:49:22

have actually been one of the most important motifs

0:49:220:49:26

which have stimulated medical advances.

0:49:260:49:28

It's much easier these days for a scientist to be right,

0:49:310:49:34

since he has such a wealth of engines and machines

0:49:340:49:36

from which to draw fruitful analogies.

0:49:360:49:39

We find it hard to say what something is,

0:49:400:49:42

unless we can say what it's like.

0:49:420:49:44

Confronted by some natural process, whose working are mysterious,

0:49:440:49:48

scientists often try to explain their action

0:49:480:49:51

by comparing them with something which they clearly understand,

0:49:510:49:55

and for obvious reasons, we find it easier to understand processes

0:49:550:49:57

for which we, ourselves, are responsible.

0:49:570:50:01

In the ancient world,

0:50:010:50:02

the furnace was one of the few metaphors available,

0:50:020:50:06

but as we'll see in a later programme,

0:50:060:50:08

when pumps began to be widely used during the sixteenth century,

0:50:080:50:11

scientists were presented with a completely new model

0:50:110:50:14

for thinking about the action of the heart.

0:50:140:50:18

We used to sit together in the set, usually after the shoot,

0:50:180:50:22

and work out what it, what it was we were going to do.

0:50:220:50:26

and some of them he could interact with,

0:50:260:50:29

and some of them had to be done with graphics or in a special set up.

0:50:290:50:32

So the idea of using 500 red Ford Fiestas as blood cells

0:50:320:50:36

seemed like a pretty good idea to me.

0:50:360:50:38

The red cells spend their active life cruising through the highways of the circulation.

0:50:390:50:45

But it's not simply an idle joyride,

0:50:450:50:47

because the red cells are small, commercial vehicles,

0:50:470:50:51

transporting their precious cargo of oxygen from lungs to tissues.

0:50:510:50:55

Like motor cars, though, they wear out, they begin to falter

0:50:550:51:00

and have to be replaced. Their useful lifespan is only about 120 days,

0:51:000:51:03

after which they become fragile and inefficient.

0:51:030:51:08

But the derelict blood cells can't be left abandoned on the kerbside in the busy bloodstream,

0:51:080:51:13

as this would lead to a pile up, or a thrombosis.

0:51:130:51:16

On holiday, if you found a dead rabbit on the road,

0:51:170:51:20

he would stop the car, put it in, throw it into the back of the car,

0:51:200:51:24

we'd all go home, and then it would be nailed to a breadboard

0:51:240:51:27

and he would open this thing up and, you know,

0:51:270:51:31

and show us everything, you know,

0:51:310:51:32

"Here's the aorta, and here's the heart."

0:51:320:51:35

And, for me, actually, that's what, at that age, made me think I wanted to be a doctor.

0:51:350:51:40

I was hugely inspired by that.

0:51:400:51:42

So of course, when it came to him doing a postmortem on a human body

0:51:420:51:45

on The Body In Question, I was like, "I've seen all that before."

0:51:450:51:48

The subject of this postmortem was a 70-year-old man,

0:51:490:51:53

who died three days after being admitted to hospital,

0:51:530:51:56

suffering from sudden breathlessness.

0:51:560:51:59

When I attended an autopsy and asked the pathologist questions,

0:51:590:52:03

that did break new ground,

0:52:030:52:05

and I don't think that anyone was particularly offended by it,

0:52:050:52:08

I think they were rather intrigued by it.

0:52:080:52:10

You notice it's a yellow, rather waxy-looking liver.

0:52:110:52:14

So this is a liver in which fatty change has begun to occur?

0:52:140:52:17

Fatty change is occurring, yes.

0:52:170:52:18

So one of the things that pathologists look for in an organ of this sort is fatty change,

0:52:180:52:23

which is a sign of congestion, also of low oxygen in the blood.

0:52:230:52:26

When this begins to happen, the cells begin to alter their metabolism

0:52:260:52:31

and fat begins to accumulate in the cells, and this produces a change

0:52:310:52:35

which actually in the classical picture is called a nutmeg liver.

0:52:350:52:38

For some reason pathologists seem to have this tendency of...

0:52:380:52:41

Of naming things after food and fruit,

0:52:410:52:43

and we have sugar icing spleen, sago spleen,

0:52:430:52:47

bread and butter pericardium, pericarditis.

0:52:470:52:51

So really a full meal can be had, yes.

0:52:510:52:53

Suddenly this man who was seen as a bit of a comedian

0:52:530:52:57

and so on and so forth, this cast him again as this doctor figure,

0:52:570:53:04

and that stirred up people out there who had various things

0:53:040:53:07

they wanted to talk to him about,

0:53:070:53:09

and one of them was Ivan Vaughan.

0:53:090:53:11

The hurdles which confront Ivan each day may include loose shoelaces,

0:53:150:53:19

a slightly sweaty T-shirt, unleashed dogs, roads, food and even closed doors.

0:53:190:53:25

Things that we think of as means to an end,

0:53:250:53:28

loom large enough for Ivan to become ends in themselves.

0:53:280:53:31

Ivan has Parkinson's disease.

0:53:330:53:35

I just felt it was a great privilege to be with someone

0:53:350:53:39

who was prepared to be as eloquently forthcoming as he was

0:53:390:53:43

about what it was like to get up in the morning,

0:53:430:53:45

knowing that he had a great, not reluctance,

0:53:450:53:49

I mean he was eager to start,

0:53:490:53:52

but nevertheless, there was something which prevented him from inaugurating movements.

0:53:520:53:57

And he took me through the, as it were,

0:53:590:54:02

domestic problems of getting up, in the knowledge that you would have

0:54:020:54:06

a difficulty in starting anything.

0:54:060:54:09

And then he showed me how, in fact,

0:54:090:54:11

this could be overcome by all sorts of little schemes.

0:54:110:54:15

If I was to hang the keys out and you were to make a snatch for them, would that get you going?

0:54:150:54:19

It'd be disastrous if you suddenly lowered them.

0:54:190:54:21

-Ah, I see, yes, because then you'd go down to the floor?

-Yeah.

0:54:210:54:25

-So don't do that, will you?

-All right, so...

0:54:250:54:27

-That's not high enough.

-That's not high enough? Now, how's that?

0:54:270:54:30

-That's too near to me.

-That's too near.

-A bit further away.

-Yeah.

0:54:300:54:33

It's so mysterious.

0:54:410:54:43

It was the most extraordinary and diverting and illuminating week

0:54:430:54:47

that I spent with him,

0:54:470:54:49

and it's what I would have liked to have done, had I stayed in medicine.

0:54:490:54:52

It's that sort of interactive collaboration

0:54:520:54:57

which I think a great deal of very interesting neuropsychology consists of.

0:54:570:55:02

Every time I pass a hospital, I feel as a Catholic must do,

0:55:020:55:05

who's lapsed and hasn't taken communion when he goes past.

0:55:050:55:07

I feel, erm, a tremendous sense of agony

0:55:070:55:11

every time I, I read a medical journal,

0:55:110:55:13

or open one of my books again

0:55:130:55:15

and see some of the materials of medicine,

0:55:150:55:17

or read about cases, or discuss cases with my wife.

0:55:170:55:20

This is a source of great agony to me.

0:55:200:55:22

He always says, which he's been saying for 50 years,

0:55:220:55:26

that he will sort of get back to medicine.

0:55:260:55:31

But in a way he's never left it, and I think that...

0:55:310:55:37

..that there is a double or multiple career, here.

0:55:390:55:43

What do they have for breakfast?

0:55:430:55:46

And that's a boa constrictor, you see.

0:55:460:55:48

But there is a little tiny one, so let's have a look at the small one.

0:55:480:55:52

I mean, the clinical life could not contain him,

0:55:520:55:57

and I think the theatre life and the directing life

0:55:570:56:01

doesn't entirely contain him.

0:56:010:56:04

he's had to go in many directions at once.

0:56:040:56:07

That's a boa constrictor as well?

0:56:080:56:10

That's a boa constrictor as well, yes.

0:56:100:56:11

Can I hold him?

0:56:170:56:18

Yes, just open your hand, just put him in your hand.

0:56:180:56:21

I think it's quite right she should be scared, anyway.

0:56:230:56:26

Absolutely, I think that's rather good.

0:56:260:56:28

-I mean, it should appear repulsive to her.

-Yes.

0:56:280:56:31

Won't people know it's a boa constrictor?

0:56:310:56:33

Oh, good heavens, no. You may get an occasional cry from some ophidiologist, who may say,

0:56:330:56:38

"Dear Sir, in a recent so-called production of Antony And Cleopatra,

0:56:380:56:41

"I saw a boa constrictor passed off as an asp.

0:56:410:56:44

"If this is the sort of thing for which they can expect us to pay

0:56:440:56:47

"an extra £15 of licence fee, they've got another thing coming.

0:56:470:56:50

"They mention asps, I expect to see them. Yours sincerely,

0:56:500:56:54

"Disappointed, Esher."

0:56:540:56:55

I got a call from him to observe him in his production

0:56:550:56:58

of Antony And Cleopatra, and direct All's Well That Ends Well.

0:56:580:57:02

And when I arrived, I realised that he'd given the BBC

0:57:020:57:05

a tremendous shock.

0:57:050:57:07

That whole institutional structure was more or less

0:57:090:57:12

circumvented by the way he organised it,

0:57:120:57:15

which was that he opened the offices,

0:57:150:57:17

and he created an office where there were designers in one corner,

0:57:170:57:20

script editors in another, people casting in the other.

0:57:200:57:23

And he created this tremendous buzz.

0:57:230:57:25

-It'll be a gorse.

-Well, where you would have vegetation

0:57:250:57:29

or fragments like that, you see, perhaps not quite so defined as that.

0:57:290:57:32

Right, so you want really Greek renaissance folk music?

0:57:320:57:35

Yes, that's right, yeah, Greek renaissance folk music.

0:57:350:57:38

Yeah, a sort of Tudor bouzouki, you know?

0:57:380:57:41

HE LAUGHS

0:57:410:57:42

Now, please do regard this as a fumble through.

0:57:420:57:47

Absolutely no...

0:57:470:57:48

I mean, anyway, I don't want any acting in the production anyway,

0:57:480:57:53

so please don't start it now.

0:57:530:57:56

Are we allowed to act if we feel like it?

0:57:560:57:58

If you, if you suddenly get this divine afflatus, then go with it.

0:57:580:58:02

LAUGHTER

0:58:020:58:03

Get thee to Gloucester, Essex. Do thee to Wessex, Exeter.

0:58:030:58:07

Fair Albany to Somerset must eke his route.

0:58:070:58:09

And Scroop, do you to Westmorland,

0:58:090:58:11

where shall bold York, enrouted now for Lancaster,

0:58:110:58:14

with forces of our Uncle Rutland enjoin his standard with sweet Norfolk's host.

0:58:140:58:19

Fair Sussex,

0:58:190:58:20

Ugh!

0:58:200:58:22

LAUGHTER

0:58:220:58:24

Get thee to Warwicksbourne, and there with frowning purpose,

0:58:240:58:26

tell our plan to Bedford's tilted ear.

0:58:260:58:29

LAUGHTER

0:58:290:58:31

That he shall press with most insensate speed

0:58:310:58:34

and join his warlike effort to bold Dorset's side.

0:58:340:58:37

I, most royally, shall now to bed,

0:58:370:58:40

to sleep off all the nonsense I've just said.

0:58:400:58:43

Bad-a-bum-bum-ba.

0:58:470:58:50

Roger Norrington rang me up and said,

0:58:500:58:51

"Would you like to come and direct an opera?"

0:58:510:58:54

And I said, "Well I, I have never directed an opera,

0:58:540:58:57

"I've never had any ambition to do it, and I don't know how to do it."

0:58:570:59:01

OPERA SINGING

0:59:010:59:03

I was totally familiar with Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms

0:59:030:59:06

and so forth, but I knew nothing about opera and I can't read music.

0:59:060:59:10

And he assured me that he could, so that would be all right.

0:59:100:59:14

Yes, it's on that that you unfreeze.

0:59:140:59:18

'I like to work in forms of theatre

0:59:180:59:21

'where there is not an obligation to be spuriously glamorous.

0:59:210:59:27

'And I think that, in a company which is small,

0:59:270:59:31

'and which doesn't have a big house,'

0:59:310:59:34

and where there's a very close association between the orchestra

0:59:340:59:37

and the players on the stage,

0:59:370:59:39

it's much easier to have a direct form of drama,

0:59:390:59:42

where all that you attend to is the drama and the music, and nothing else.

0:59:420:59:46

CHORAL SINGING

0:59:460:59:50

He had this tremendous vision about how pieces should look

0:59:510:59:57

and what they should be like, and, of course, the history.

0:59:571:00:02

Orfeo doesn't take place anywhere,

1:00:021:00:03

it doesn't take place in classical Greece,

1:00:031:00:05

it doesn't take place in modern times,

1:00:051:00:07

it didn't actually take place in the seventeenth century.

1:00:071:00:10

Where it does take place is in the seventeenth century imagination,

1:00:101:00:13

and you have to use the idioms of the seventeenth century

1:00:131:00:15

imagination in order to reproduce a visual counterpart of the music.

1:00:151:00:19

HE SINGS IN ITALIAN

1:00:231:00:26

# As you cause my bitter torment

1:00:301:00:33

# And the cause of my contentment

1:00:331:00:37

# And the source of every sweetness... #

1:00:371:00:41

Jonathan had a marvellous idea visually.

1:00:411:00:45

Very often he found an artist of the same period, and this was

1:00:451:00:50

a very brilliant solution, he used Poussin, the French artist

1:00:501:00:55

who, who moved to Italy, he had worked there most of his life.

1:00:551:00:59

Over the years I've become preoccupied

1:01:161:01:20

with the astonishing brilliance

1:01:201:01:22

of these bas-relief statues of choristers.

1:01:221:01:26

I think this one here is so amazing, this is what is called in art

1:01:351:01:40

historical terms, contrapposto, that one figure is facing this way,

1:01:401:01:47

one that way, this one is back to us, but his head

1:01:471:01:52

slightly turned to the side, and this one turned over his shoulder.

1:01:521:01:58

And it makes the most wonderful sort of dancing circle,

1:01:591:02:04

and this serves as a wonderful inspiration

1:02:041:02:07

for staging a choral group.

1:02:071:02:09

One of the things that happens with groups is that they tend

1:02:091:02:12

to all face in the same direction.

1:02:121:02:13

What I like to do is to break the line,

1:02:131:02:16

so that it's always slightly jiggly, that's right, you see, that's,

1:02:161:02:19

and so that if you're here singing, I think you need to be a little bit

1:02:191:02:22

more facing in that direction,

1:02:221:02:23

so that you can corroborate his remarks, you see,

1:02:231:02:25

so there's a relationship backwards and forwards

1:02:251:02:28

between groups and also, eye lines within groups. OK.

1:02:281:02:32

When I was asked to do Rigoletto, I knew that I had misgivings

1:03:391:03:44

about setting it in this, these hypothetical, non-existent pasts,

1:03:441:03:50

having been backdated by their composers and by their librettists.

1:03:501:03:53

I said, "Well, how am I going to do it?"

1:03:531:03:55

My wife reminded me of that scene in Some Like It Hot,

1:03:551:03:58

where the policeman accuses George Raft

1:03:581:04:01

of having done the St Valentine's Day Massacre, or the equivalent of it.

1:04:011:04:05

So maestro, where were you at three o'clock on St Valentine's Day?

1:04:051:04:08

Me, I was at Rigoletto.

1:04:081:04:09

And he turns to his bodyguard and goes, "Ain't that so?"

1:04:091:04:12

And the bodyguard goes, "That's right."

1:04:121:04:14

We was with you at Rigoletto's.

1:04:141:04:16

Honest.

1:04:161:04:17

And I thought well actually, the world of Mafia thugs and dukes

1:04:191:04:27

is indistinguishable from the world of Medici thugs.

1:04:271:04:32

And the Italian aristocracy, who are now, of course,

1:04:321:04:36

very distant from their predecessors,

1:04:361:04:39

where just one way or another were thugs, Mafia thugs.

1:04:401:04:43

The main thing is he has a tremendous sense of humour

1:04:471:04:50

in relation to his subject, the melodrama is treated with humour.

1:04:501:04:53

And you howl with recognition and laughter,

1:04:531:04:58

and at the same time with pathos.

1:04:581:05:01

The way he identifies the Duke with the jukebox is a perfect way

1:05:051:05:09

of characterising the Duke's shallowness.

1:05:091:05:12

# Women abandon us

1:05:131:05:15

# Why should it hurt them

1:05:151:05:18

# If we desert them when it's all over

1:05:191:05:23

# Women make fools of us, laugh in our faces... #

1:05:241:05:26

It's got to be somewhere where, in fact,

1:05:261:05:29

some way of revisualising the work occurs precisely because there is

1:05:291:05:34

a high degree of correspondence from the social structures,

1:05:341:05:38

from which it's come, and the social structures into which you put it.

1:05:381:05:43

That's why I would never change Don Giovanni -

1:05:431:05:45

the social structures of Don Giovanni are inconsistent

1:05:451:05:49

with anything in modern times.

1:05:491:05:50

And the same with The Marriage of Figaro.

1:05:501:05:52

But when it comes to Cosi Fan Tutte,

1:05:521:05:54

I've done five different production of it,

1:05:541:05:56

most of which have been traditionally set in the 18th century.

1:05:561:05:59

I suddenly decided I must do it a different way.

1:06:131:06:16

I think it was the first occasion, perhaps,

1:06:421:06:45

that a mobile telephone was used on stage,

1:06:451:06:48

and I thought, there's a particular, recitative,

1:06:481:06:51

I might be able to actually just start by speaking to someone,

1:06:511:06:54

some imaginary seventh cast member on the telephone.

1:06:541:07:00

And the following day I went in and there was immediate response to it.

1:07:001:07:04

MOBILE PHONE RINGS

1:07:041:07:07

AUDIENCE LAUGHS

1:07:071:07:09

We live in the time of works which are in

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what I've frequently described as being in their afterlife,

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a life which could not have been anticipated by their makers.

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Almost as soon as I came into this room,

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I was struck by the echoing solitude of the place,

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and my eye was drawn immediately to this sculpture here,

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by someone I had never heard of before.

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He's a Gothic sculptor of the early 14th century,

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Tino Di Camaino, and it has a strange sort of chastity

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which is absolutely remarkable.

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As I turned round this sculpture, my eye was drawn, of course,

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to this fragmented picture here on the wall, it's by Orcagna,

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which is painted at almost the same period as this sculpture by Tino.

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No doubt when the whole thing was complete, it would have had

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the picture of the Last Supper going along here,

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of which you see only a fragment on this side.

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I know that if Orcagna had lived another three or four hundred years,

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and had seen the fading and disintegration of his artwork,

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he would have been appalled that

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anyone would have come in and regarded it of any interest.

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But it's precisely because it's enigmatically broken up

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that it's attractive to the modern eye,

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it's a picture which is in its afterlife,

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like so many of the plays and operas which I have directed.

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Lemmon's in London for the best of all possible reasons,

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to star for the first time ever on the West End Stage.

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And for his debut he's certainly going the whole hog,

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playing the lead in America's most famous, certainly longest,

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most harrowing, all-time theatrical marathon,

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Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night.

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Happily, his director Jonathan Miller is not a man to be phased

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by the hallowed reverence with which Americans regard the play.

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I think I'd probably had a talk to Jack Lemmon about it some time,

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and thought wouldn't it be interesting to do this play,

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which has been represented by the, the guardians

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of the O'Neill tradition, the custodians of the orthodox,

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to be the American equivalent of Greek drama,

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that it has to be played at great lengths,

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that it should last at least three and a half hours,

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and that it is, in fact, Greek drama cast in an American format.

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He felt, why would a relatively drunk Irish family,

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who had been having the same arguments

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for years and years and years,

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wait politely for the end of every sentence?

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If you know what the argument is and you know where someone is going.

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So he encouraged us to kind of overlap.

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Now the deal was, you have to make your point,

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and you have to be heard, so sometimes that meant

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that you'd repeat a line three times,

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because another actor would still be trying to make their point.

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And what it did was, it created for us an extraordinarily... spontaneous...

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because it never had to be at the same moment,

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it could just continue to evolve. And, for us it was extraordinary,

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because it made the play very alive.

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Sneer at every damn thing in the world except yourself.

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That's not true, Papa, you can't hear me talking to myself...

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The ingratitude, the violence...

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I could see that one coming, how many thousands of times?

1:11:141:11:16

God, if you once, you would get ambition in your head...

1:11:161:11:19

Oh, all right, Papa, I'm a bum, whatever you'd like,

1:11:191:11:21

so long as it stops the argument. Yeah, let's forget about me.

1:11:211:11:23

You know, you are young, you...

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Look, I'm not interested in this subject, and neither are you.

1:11:251:11:28

You are young, you could still make your mark.

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You had the talent once to be a fine actor, you have it still.

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You are my son.

1:11:351:11:36

If it hadn't been for you responding to this young upstart,

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coming up to you at a table, after your lecture...

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-And asking for an audition.

-And asking for an audition,

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my career would be very different.

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Well, it would have been different I think, but I mean,

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as you well know, and as everyone knows,

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you would have made your way into the theatre,

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because you, as I recognised when I rather, first of all,

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unwillingly gave you an audition, which I had to do a half an hour

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-before the official auditions happened.

-That's right.

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You read for five or six minutes and I gave you the part.

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Yeah, that's right.

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A lot of people would say no, and a lot of people do say no...

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Well they, yes, that's quite true.

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Because there's like a way to do it and yadda-yadda,

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but we broke the rules, and why not?

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Well, breaking the rules is what it's all about.

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We're glad to have you back...

1:12:211:12:22

CHURCH BELLS PEAL

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Look, again, look, let's look at that. Isn't it beautiful?

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I love the way it's worn, look at the way that is worn.

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But it's also such a wonderful piece of abstract sculpture, you see.

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Oh, it's fantastic.

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When I began doing artwork, I began photographing things like this,

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and then began thinking it would be nice to make things

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out of something like that,

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by just simply having that and perhaps adding a splotch of colour.

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My eye was drawn to this, now here's the,

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it's there are part of the, um, the railing of this restaurant.

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When I was working in Santa Fe, I used to go out with the man

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who ran the estate and isolated things like that,

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because we found them in, we found them in rubbish dumps.

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And so, I would, I would put them on to his pickup truck

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and we'd go back and assemble them with something else, welding them.

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Yeah, there it only works,

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because we, we're back into an unsupported thing again.

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It's not bad.

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I know, it is interesting what, what happens

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when it gets swivelled around, you know.

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I think that's pretty good.

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-I like that.

-Yeah, so do I.

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He's not saying it's about anything, you know,

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he's not saying this is called Opus No 23 and it's,

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it's encouraging you to, like the bricks in the Tate,

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to think spatially about the space that is,

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he's not saying any of that.

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That's what it is, it's a piece of metal,

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but if you want to take away those thoughts about it,

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as rubbish, as texture, as looking at things more closely,

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then you're very welcome to do so. And that's great, you know,

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it's a feet on the ground attitude towards creativity.

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In the old days, when I came out from anywhere where

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we were living, I would come out with a Stanley knife in the dark

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and take off, shave off or cut off

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pieces of ruined posters on the walls,

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and I would take them and pack them away,

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and take them back to London, and reassemble them as collage.

1:14:401:14:45

And here is my mess of a studio.

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And as you can see, the things that I have been making show that

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I am absolutely committed to abstract configurations which bear

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a very straightforward relationship to the abstract configurations

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of the prints and pictures which I have collected for other reasons.

1:15:071:15:12

Because I'm absolutely fascinated by the sort of thing which

1:15:121:15:17

Kurt Schwitters did and this is the great German artist of the 1920s

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and '30s, who introduced a great deal of typographic collage.

1:15:221:15:29

Now I found these lumps of timber, and I also found

1:15:301:15:33

bits and pieces of sanded circle, used for grinding,

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and it was falling to bits, and I placed it on that,

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put colours behind it,

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and then assembled bits and pieces of now antique typography.

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Now, as far as the proprietors of this place are concerned,

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that is a piece of wreckage.

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Frame it very carefully, and the perspective,

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the false perspective,

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that is the most wonderful piece of abstract sculpture.

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Whoop-de-doo.

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My attention is drawn to this,

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first of all, that is the most wonderful object there.

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Now, pull back, reframe,

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so just have that and that and that,

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and you've got a piece of wonderful sculpture.

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It's a most beautiful object that, now.

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What is so interesting, you pass by these things,

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and you don't notice them,

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and then your attention is drawn to one of them,

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and then you see that one as an example of a type,

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and the type then draws your attention,

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and you think, "I could do a whole exhibition devoted

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"to twenty or thirty of these ways in which a lock is framed by the door."

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Zoop, here we are, here's another one.

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You see there it's got this added thing there and then that,

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and then this piece of shiny metal,

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and that thing there.

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Pull back and, ah, there's your artwork.

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On this sideboard are some of the things I've collected.

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And none of them are valuable objects, they're, they're what,

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I suppose you would have called junk at the time when I spotted them.

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I think I picked this up in Florence,

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nearly 20 years ago, in the same area where we walked around.

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Oh, it's a key.

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Oh it's a, it's a key.

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And that's the backside of the lock.

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Rachel, I think I'm going to have to get that.

1:17:591:18:01

FAINTLY: Yeah, I can see it in your eyes.

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It's a most wonderful object that, you see, isn't it?

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It's lovely, absolutely.

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-E quanto?

-Centocinquanta.

-How much is that?

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-Too much, a hundred and fifty.

-Oh no, no, oh, it's so beautiful.

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Ah, no I can't afford it.

1:18:211:18:24

There's something about its abstract format which appealed to me,

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I love the, this spiral spring here

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and the arrangement of the rectangles,

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which are superimposed on something

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which was never intended to be seen,

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it actually was meant to be seen from in front,

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where it actually exercised its function,

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it was a thing for locking a door.

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Well, I'm not interested in locking a door,

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the door for which it was a lock has vanished,

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and it now becomes an abstract object,

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which has altered its visibility in its afterlife,

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in its subsequent existence.

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Now, this is all an example of what Nelson Goodman calls

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"autographic works," these are works which are made and the extent

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to which they survive depends on the survival

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of the material out of which they are made,

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as opposed to what he calls "allographic works,"

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which are things like plays and operas,

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in which nothing exists until the work is reperformed

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in subsequent performances.

1:19:371:19:40

He called me up, he was on the phone, and he said, he said,

1:19:401:19:44

"I'm doing the Mikado, and I'd like you to come and be Ko-Ko."

1:19:441:19:48

And I said, "Wow, what are you going to do with the Mikado?"

1:19:481:19:51

And he said,

1:19:511:19:52

"I'm going to get rid of all that Japanese nonsense for a start."

1:19:521:19:55

And I thought, well, this I have to see.

1:19:551:19:57

I'd never seen a Gilbert and Sullivan,

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but then I hadn't seen many operas anyway,

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and the last operas I think I would be likely to see

1:20:151:20:18

is these coy English, sort of sillinesses.

1:20:181:20:21

I cannot believe the Japanese world,

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people with these potty training names like

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Nanki-Poo and Pooh-Bah - "have we done our Nanki-Poos?"

1:20:271:20:32

I mean, it was ridiculous to set it in Japan.

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And I suddenly remembered that Groucho Marx had taken

1:20:341:20:37

part in a version of The Mikado, he'd played Ko-Ko in it.

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So I began to think, as I said,

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"Well, actually, how about Duck Soup, Freedonia, rather than Japan?"

1:20:431:20:49

# We'll give them a rousing cheer

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# To show him we're glad he's here

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# Hail, hail Freedonia... #

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There's a moment when Groucho gets summoned

1:20:581:21:02

and comes down to the meeting in Duck Soup.

1:21:021:21:05

And I make the entrance of The Mikado exactly like that,

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I based it entirely on what happened in Duck Soup.

1:21:151:21:18

And he mixed that, the Duck Soup, the Marx Brothers,

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and the black and white look,

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and the sort of crazy, you know, behaviour.

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And he wanted everybody to talk like the queen,

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so they talked a bit like that in English received accents,

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which in those days everybody spoke like, particularly at the BBC.

1:21:381:21:42

# Taken from the county jail

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# By a set of curious chances Liberated then on bail,

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# On my own recognizances... #

1:21:511:21:55

Eric had reluctance about being in the opera,

1:21:551:22:01

because he didn't think he could sing well enough.

1:22:011:22:03

But it turned out he could sing perfectly well enough

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to do a Gilbert and Sullivan,

1:22:051:22:08

there are no great challenges to the voice.

1:22:081:22:12

And he was very funny and we had a very good time together.

1:22:121:22:15

In your anxiety to carry out my wishes,

1:22:151:22:19

you have beheaded the heir to the throne of Japan.

1:22:191:22:23

Yes, there should be, as if this is, "Yes, I have, in way,"

1:22:241:22:28

you know, there's a bit of that sort of feeling of the hand movements

1:22:281:22:35

used to say, "Yeah, well, ooh, now, I..." Stop it, stop that!

1:22:351:22:40

They were filming a documentary and I remember making him laugh,

1:22:401:22:44

and he rolled around the floor.

1:22:441:22:46

I think I grovelled, I think I was just doing a grovel,

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and he went, he just completely went.

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Come, come my fellow, don't distress yourself.

1:22:521:22:56

LAUGHTER

1:22:561:22:58

He just was completely out of control,

1:23:051:23:07

rolling around the floor, laughing and laughing and laughing,

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and I thought, "Oh, I made Jonathan Miller laugh, I'm very happy now."

1:23:101:23:14

OK. I think we should have a break for coffee soon.

1:23:201:23:26

AUDIENCE LAUGHS

1:23:261:23:29

It's fun, that's all.

1:23:401:23:43

I, beg to offer an unqualified apology.

1:23:431:23:46

It's a funny musical, or at least I made it funny,

1:23:461:23:51

as opposed to facetious.

1:23:511:23:53

I suppose there is a paradox about a Jewish atheist undertaking to

1:24:081:24:13

produce and direct something which is the epitome of a Christian story.

1:24:131:24:20

It's a riveting story, whether you believe

1:24:201:24:23

in its metaphysics or not is beside the point.

1:24:231:24:26

And it happens also to be,

1:24:261:24:28

perhaps some of the most beautiful music,

1:24:281:24:31

some of the most dramatically convincing

1:24:311:24:34

and eloquent music ever written.

1:24:341:24:36

Peter hears the cock crow for the third time

1:25:041:25:06

and realises that the prediction of him betraying,

1:25:061:25:09

or denying Christ, actually was true, and he has this extraordinary moment

1:25:091:25:14

when the, the alto and the violin come and play the Erbarme Dich

1:25:141:25:19

I said, "Wouldn't it be a good idea

1:25:191:25:21

"if you actually brought the violin across the stage

1:25:211:25:24

"and played it into the ear of the grieving figure of Peter?"

1:25:241:25:27

I don't think there'd ever been an acted Matthew Passion before,

1:25:371:25:41

it was immensely impressive and, and sort of devout people were,

1:25:411:25:46

were reduced to, you know, tears and, and rapture and

1:25:461:25:53

I remember Jonathan saying after, his success there,

1:25:531:25:57

he said, "Not, not bad for an old Jewish atheist,"

1:25:571:26:02

a phrase which I have appropriated for myself.

1:26:021:26:06

In some ways, looking back at what happened to me

1:27:141:27:17

as a result of yielding to the invitation

1:27:171:27:20

to be in Beyond The Fringe, and then one thing led to another,

1:27:201:27:25

I lapsed out of my biology and medicine and, er, neurology.

1:27:251:27:31

And I think I will always have some sort of misgiving about

1:27:311:27:36

having left what my father was cut out to do,

1:27:361:27:40

and what I feel still I was really cut out to do.

1:27:401:27:45

He's full of regrets, I think, as a person.

1:27:451:27:48

He, whenever I meet him now,

1:27:481:27:50

he seems unhappy with the way the world is,

1:27:501:27:54

and I think he feels slightly unhappy about the way

1:27:541:27:57

the world has treated him.

1:27:571:27:59

I think this is completely unjustified, the world loves him,

1:27:591:28:03

and this borne out by the television audiences that his programmes

1:28:031:28:07

have got over the years, it's borne out by his operas,

1:28:071:28:10

which people flock to go and see,

1:28:101:28:12

and are repeated over and over again.

1:28:121:28:14

AUDIENCE APPLAUD

1:28:141:28:15

As he ages, there is just more and more of him I think in,

1:28:251:28:29

in terms of experience and with the perspective and depth,

1:28:291:28:33

and I think people like Jonathan should,

1:28:331:28:35

should live till they're two hundred.

1:28:351:28:38

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

1:29:071:29:14

The BBC's flagship arts documentary strand Arena returns with the first ever documentary exploring the extraordinary life of Sir Jonathan Miller CBE. Jonathan Miller is usually described as a 'polymath' or 'Renaissance man', two labels he personally dislikes. But no-one quite like him has made such an impact on British culture through the medium of television, radio, theatre and opera. He has straddled the great divide between the arts and the sciences, while being a brilliant humorist, a qualified doctor and even a practising artist. With the man himself and a host of distinguished collaborators, including Oliver Sacks, Eric Idle, Kevin Spacey (who owes his first break to Miller) and Penelope Wilton, this Arena profile explores Miller's rich life and examines through amazing television archive - mostly from the BBC - how he makes these connections between the worlds of the imagination and scientific fact.


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