Don’t Touch The TV People

Some unrecorded recent activity.

27 May: I attend the BAFTA TV awards at the Royal Festival Hall. Ms Sarah D has tickets to the public gallery, and I’m curious, so I go.

The public ticket holders get to walk the red carpet on the way in, though in this instance the carpet is a red, white and blue jigsaw pattern, which as someone points out looks the opening credits to Dad’s Army after a bad drug trip. The public attendees are asked to arrive before the proper guests, and then are kept upstairs in a kind of apartheid section. There’s a separate balcony bar and stewards preventing you from going downstairs into the main stalls area, in case – shock horror – you dare to speak to the scriptwriter of The Fades. Don’t touch the TV people!

But even famous names are not necessarily famous faces. On getting his award for writing and directing This Is England ’88, Shane Meadows makes a semi-jokey comment that no one asked for his autograph on the red carpet.  It’s funny how the BAFTAs mix this British take on Oscars glamour, celebrating the celebrated, with giving the actual awards to non-famous creative types. People in the public gallery shout and scream when Sherlock‘s  Benedict Cumberbatch comes on with Doctor Who’s Matt Smith (to present the head writer of both shows, Steven Moffat, with a special award), but otherwise most of the awards are for less well known programmes like Appropriate AdultRandom, Borgen and The Fades. Then there’s awards for harrowing documentaries (like the Terry Pratchett euthanasia report), followed by ones for mindless drivel like Celebrity Juice, which baffingly beats Sherlock to the You Tube Audience Award. Still, that’s the variety of television. What makes it worthwhile is seeing what makes the televised version and what doesn’t.  Terry Pratchett and Stewart Lee in particular have their speeches cut down, and one wonders who decides such things, and what their rules are.

They give you special BAFTA chocolates, in the shape of the trophy:

photo by Paul @bitoclass on Twitter

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Weekend of June 2nd: more celebrations where some people are marked out as intrinsically better than others: the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Four days of it: Saturday to Tuesday. On the one rain-free day I attend a street party across the road in Highgate Avenue, and meet some of my neighbours for the first time since I moved here. Which was eighteen years ago. The street is closed off, there’s trestle tables with drinks (I do my bit and add a bottle of wine) and there’s the ubiquitous Union Jack bunting dangling from street lamps. Small girls play hopscotch in the road, which is covered with chalk scribbles. It all looks very 1950s, till one reads some of the words the children write on the tarmac: ‘RIHANNA‘.

On the flotilla day there’s lots of people on the tube in soggy ponchos and Union Jack bowler hats, looking drenched yet perfectly happy. Some of my more republican friends find the Jubilee nauseating and in bad taste (particularly in a recession), and some even move out of the city till it’s all over. In my fence-sitting way, I inwardly support the republicans’ point, but I also recognise that plenty of people like the Jubilee events. I find myself enjoying the spectacle of the flotilla of boats (particularly the bit with the War Horse puppet on the National Theatre roof), and I love the  fireworks show at the end of the big pop concert (writing that, I sound like I’m the Queen’s age myself. I might as well be).

Where do I draw the line? I suppose it’s at the moment where someone at the street party asks me – very nicely – if I’d like a little Union Jack tattoo put on the side of my face.

No. Thank you, but no. I suppose that’s the limit of my tolerance for anything. Facial decoration.


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