BBC Alan Bennett Season

An aide-memoire for me, possible notification for others.

We last had a Night in with Alan Bennett in 1992, and now he’s come to stay the week.

Sadly though, the BBC appears unable to extend the invite and its general appreciation to the point of actually commissioning any new work, beside the ten minute Bennett on Bennett segments. Presumably the requisite focus group-approved attention span necessary for BBC Four’s young intellectual.

What about a new play? A nice new play? Or even a new production of an old one. Of course Play is a dirty word in television now. It’s Drama. Or to be more precise, it’s Detective Drama, or Costume Drama. With ‘Major New’ or ‘Mini-Series’ to be appended as required. The intention, or hope, is that such unnecessary modular conjunctions will in some way make up for, or distract from, the resulting shortfall in originality or depth. My reckoning has 1989 as the last time BBC television commissioned anything from him, with Talking Heads 2.

A few years ago a casual enquiry made to my then girlfriend about a play on television, and whether or not she’d seen it, resulted in her spitting the word back at me with incredulous vigour. “Play?”, she slavered, “Play?”. As if I’d suggested we might go shopping arm-in-arm dressed as Elizabethans.

Oh and we also have Mark ‘the bumbling potato’ Lawson – he’s not a real potato* – attempting yet another of his Proper Serious interviews. Doubtless missing every opportunity for insight as usual.

Oh that’s enough complaining for now. Here’s the programme schedule. With links.

Being Alan Bennett (2009)

Being Alan Bennett (2009)

Friday 4th December
BBC2 23:35 The History Boys (01:25)

Saturday 5th December
BBC2 18:40 Dinner at Noon (1988) (19:20)
BBC2 19:20 An Englishman Abroad (1983) (20:25)
BBC2 20:25 Talking Heads: Her Big Chance (Julie Walters) (21:00)
BBC2 21:00 Talking Heads: Waiting for the Telegram (21:30)
BBC2 21:30 [NEW] Being Alan Bennett (2009) (22:30)

Sunday 6th December
BBC2 17:20 Talking Heads: A Chip in the Sugar (Alan Bennett) (18:05)
BBC2 18:05 A Day Out (1972) (18:55)
BBC2 18:55 Talking Heads: A Lady of Letters (Patricia Routledge) (19:30)
BBC4 21:00 [NEW] Mark Lawson Talks to Alan Bennett (2009) (22:00)
BBC4 22:00 [NEW] Bennett on Bennett (2009) (22:10)
1/5 Mixing: Alan Bennett’s descriptions of his parents’ social aspirations are touching and humorous.
BBC4 22:10 Screen One: A Question of Attribution (23:25)
BBC4 23:25 Talking Heads: Soldiering On (Alan Bennett) (00:00)
BBC4 03:00 [NEW] Mark Lawson Talks to Alan Bennett (2009) (Rpt.) (04:00)

Monday 7th December
BBC4 22:00 [NEW] Bennett on Bennett (2009) (22:10)
2/5 Shy: Alan Bennett explores the burden of shyness that haunted him for much of his adult life.
BBC4 22:10 Talking Heads: Bed Among The Lentils (Maggie Smith) (23:05)

Tuesday 8th December
BBC4 22:30 [NEW] Bennett on Bennett (2009) (22:40)
3/5 Writing: Alan Bennett examines the delicate balance between writing and staring out of the window.
BBC4 22:40 Talking Heads: A Woman of No Importance (Patricia Routledge) (23:30)

Wednesday 9th December
BBC4 22:00 [NEW] Bennett on Bennett (2009) (22:10)
4/5 Star Gazing: Alan Bennett turns his gaze onto the showbiz world with moving and amusing results.
BBC4 22:10 Talking Heads: A Cream Cracker under the Settee (Thora Hird) (22:45)
BBC2 00:10 [NEW] Being Alan Bennett (2009) (Rpt.) (01:10)
BBC4 12:40 [NEW] Mark Lawson Talks to Alan Bennett (2009) (Rpt.) (01:40)

Thursday 10th December
BBC4 22:00 [NEW] Bennett on Bennett [5] (2009) (22:10)
5/5 Postscript: Alan Bennett movingly describes visiting his parents’ grave in a North Yorkshire village.
BBC4 22:10 Talking Heads: Nights in the Gardens of Spain (22:50)
BBC4 22:50 Our Winnie (1982) (23:35)

The Habit of ArtAlan Bennett’s latest play at the National Theatre.
Alan Bennett biography.Screenonline.
Regarding Alan BennettAn appreciation of an author’s work.
The World Of Alan BennettFlickr group.
Alan BennettWikipedia.
The History BoysWikipedia.
Living IconsBBC
Alan Bennett’s gift to the Bodleian library.Via the Guardian.
Bennett biog.BBC Leeds.

* Concept plagiarised from Mr. Stewart Lee – see current tour Re. “Richard ‘the hamster’ Hammond – He’s not a real hamster.”


About domestic empire

Writer, philosopher, humourist, musician, photographer, supporter of human rights, animal rights, owner/operator of a small but industrious beard and a whisker shy of talented.
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3 Responses to BBC Alan Bennett Season

  1. Mike Holt says:

    Hello Gary (?)

    I was pointed to your Blog by another Bennett fan: I’m apalled to have just missed his ENTIRE recent appearance on BBC. Didn’t know he’d been on until the idiotic BBC 7-day limit had passed.

    I dont suppose…. you know anyone who recorded them, do you ?

    Can happily swap large amounts of R4 spoken-word collection, if you can advise.

    Merry Christmas



    • gary says:

      I was extremely unimpressed overall with the production of the season. Bennett himself seemed on good form and welcome too were the various sorties into the BBC archives. But the absence of producer Innes Lloyd was all too obvious.

      On a happier note, email forthcoming Mike ;-p



  2. steven says:

    Hello Gary

    I enjoyed the Being Alan Bennett documentary – finally got around to watching it this week after recording it when broadcast. I, too, was disappointed, though, by the season. Too short, and not enough rare stuff – most of what was broadcast is available on DVD anyway, dso very little for anyone but mildly interested passing trade, I felt.
    I have a fair few other bits of stuff, not yet released, that I’ve collected from various sources and put onto DVD, drop me an email if you’re interested. Perhaps you have one or two bits I might be interested in as an exchange?
    All the best



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