Sunday, February 05, 2012

Peter Capaldi's Cricklewood Greats

This evening at 9 BBC Four is broadcasting Peter Capaldi's, if you will, mockumentary Cricklewood Greats. A Daily Telegraph interview looking forward to the programme promises us:
a loving homage to the early cheap-as-chips British film industry, while simultaneously administering a sharp kick in the shins to the pleased-as-punch BBC Four arts documentary.
Which makes it sound very like Harry Enfield's Norbert Smith: A Life from 1989. I can't show you a clip from this because those on Youtube are blocked in the UK at Channel four's request. As a reader pointed out to me, this is a bit of a dog-in-a-manger attitude as the station has never issued the one-off show, which has some claim to be the best thing Enfield had ever done, on DVD.

I hope it is a "loving homage," because it is easy to mock British films. Yet every one has something of interest, if it is only the street scenes.

As Matthew Sweet once wrote:
Observe, say, 1950s Britain through its top-of-the-bill films and it emerges as a land populated by pipe-smoking, twentysomething men who drive vintage Bentleys, usually with Muriel Pavlow in the back. 
Explore it from the bottom of the bill and you'll encounter something different: tracts of featureless industrial estates, a world in which Wolseley police cars clatter under railway bridges in Croydon and mid-price actors occupy frowsty suburban drags. It is threadbare, unspectacular territory, where compromised people spend their time committing adultery and double-crossing each other, often while drinking pre-mixed American cocktails.


Hywel said...

I think Norbert Smith is available on 4OD (though it seems you need to register and I can't remember by registeration details)

Jennie Rigg said...

Finally got around to watching this. It was fabulous. The Quatermas-cum-King Kong pastiche was amazing.