The Kennedys: Decline and Fall (Channel 5)
The reason for this is very simple. Everyone knows what Winston Churchill looked like.
Everyone has an idea what a green, blob-like life form might look like, too, but it’s open to interpretation.
This simple rule is what scuppers many a biopic and fact-based drama.
We ought to be able to see beyond it but we can’t. Henry VIII can either be played by someone with vigorously red hair, like Damian Lewis, or in a seedy manner, like Sid James.
He cannot be played by a slim, clean-cut chap like Jonathan Rhys Meyers, or he can be, but everyone will laugh.
The Kennedys: Decline and Fall (Channel 5) made me laugh, with a rendering of Aristotle Onassis so unlike Aristotle Onassis that it could have won a special category of Oscar for it.
The real shipping magnate was handsome in an ugly way, craggy, weathered, leathery and interesting.
If you’d seen him mending his nets by the harbour on a little Greek island, you might have asked if you could take a picture of him.
Alexander Siddig, who played him in last night’s epic, is handsome in a handsome way, and slapping a pair of terrible spectacles on him did not, in any sense, add the required character.
It was a shame, not least because Katie Holmes made a startlingly good double for Jackie Kennedy, and if Matthew Perry wasn’t a dead ringer for Senator Teddy, his tubby, panicky, weak-willed performance certainly magicked up the essence of him.
JFK: The Assassination in pictures Wed, November 23, 2016
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, commonly referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963.
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President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline photographed just moments before Kennedy was assasinated. Nov 22, 1963.
This film was part of a pair first shown on History, the first focusing on JFK’s assassination.
The second half of the story mined the interesting territory of a powerful clan that had lost its leading men. Bobby Kennedy’s assassination occurred in the opening scenes, and within no time, the widowed Jackie was leaving her fatherless children to be with the rest of the Kennedys.
It was a relationship that could work in many ways but mostly against her. When she overstepped the mark, she was reminded that she’d just married someone who was now dead.
When she tried to escape, into the arms of the loving but philandering Onassis, she was reminded that she belonged to the Kennedys, forever, no matter what she changed her name to.
Arena: desert island discs (BBC4), originally shown in 1982
Last night’s Arena: Desert Island Discs (BBC4) gave us another chance to see a film originally shown in 1982 to mark the 40th anniversary of the broadcasting classic.
Another chance to see is, of course, code for a repeat but as the famous music-and-chat show is now 75, it wasn’t a bad moment to show it.
It must be as hard to make radio programmes about television as it is to make TV programmes about radio shows – at least, that’s how I’m regarding the weird, almost creepily dreamlike nature of last night’s tribute.
The film was shown to mark the 40th anniversary of the broadcasting classic
Featuring the late, great Roy Plomley OBE acting out versions of his real self, while snippets of bygone interviews and talking heads loomed in and out of the fog, this was more like something The Beatles might have done in their experimental period.
Oddly enough, the most coherent bits were recaps from Paul McCartney’s appearance on the show.
He didn’t plug any Beatles songs, but in a typically gentlemanly and generous style, he did pick one of John Lennon’s as his favourite.
I know who of the two I’d rather be marooned with.