Friday, April 8, 2011

Layer 461 . . . Spiritual Life, Social Responsibility, Confronting Reality, Campus, Green Wing and Political Crisis

In Our Time - Radio 4

Victorian social reformer Octavia Hill.

From the 1850s until her death in 1912, Octavia Hill was an energetic campaigner who did much to improve the lot of impoverished city dwellers. She was a pioneer of social housing who believed that there were better and more humane ways of arranging accommodation for the poor than through the state. Aided at first by her friend John Ruskin, the essayist and art critic, she bought houses and let them to the urban dispossessed.
Octavia Hill provided an early model of social work, did much to preserve urban open spaces, and was the first to use the term 'green belt' to describe the rural areas around London. She was also one of the founders of the National Trust. Yet her vision of social reform, involving volunteers and private enterprise rather than central government, was often at odds with that of her contemporaries.

Housing reform - "wanting to tackle the violence, chaos and suffering."

She also stressed the need for open spaces, gardens and playgrounds.

19th Century cooperatives . . .

"A belief that a spiritual life entails social responsibility."

Octavia "confronted reality from an early age."

Her family were Christian socialists.

She was brought up "face to face with the realities of poverty."

Her parents were radicals, and encouraged her to be radical, unconventional, creative, innovative . . .

She started a programme of taking children on visits to the countryside.


Campus  -  Channel 4

Now here's a thing. Green Wing was the best and funniest TV series of all time. It was devised and produced by Victoria Pile, and was also written by her, plus a team of 7 other writers.

Ms Pile and 5 of the original 7 Green Wing writers are also responsible for a new series that started on C4 this week - "Campus". This is supposed to be Green Wing transposed to a university campus. What it actually is, is a pile of steaming poo. It's unbelievably awful. How can this be?

The two Green Wing writers missing from the Campus team are Gary Howe and Stuart Kenworthy. Can we then safely assume that these guys provided the element of genius in Green Wing? We surely must, for how else to explain the utterly incredible ridiculousness of Campus?

Green Wing was whacky, oddball, off the wall, original and hilarious. Campus is silly, screwball, juvenile and totally unfunny. Green Wing had brilliant characters and wonderful actors. Campus has idiot characters and crap actors.

This is one of the biggest TV disappointments of all time. It's an unbelievable let-down. It's so lamentable I won't even be watching subsequent episodes, in the hope that it improves. I don't see how it possibly can.

Every single character in Green Wing is funny, appealing and insanely believable - even the hideous Dr Statham. There isn't a single character in Campus who has these qualities.

Bah. Humbug.


"A fairly substantial political crisis" is how Michael Portillo describes what's happening with the coalition and its decision to halt the progress of its bill to demolish the NHS.

What's happened to all the energy of the protests? Is that it? Having huffed and puffed and stamped our little feet do we all just stand back and watch what happens from now on?

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