The elderly member of our household, having exhausted antiques programmes, box sets and railway videos, has found the complete series of This is Your Life and apparently – since this is Youtube – Jimmy Savile is still on there. I guess it’d be interesting to watch, since otherwise every trace of him has been expunged from the world, but I don’t know if, knowing what I know now, I could bear to watch it. There was an interview with Joan Bakewell at the weekend and amongst other things – detailing the sexual harrassment she received in her youth; I still remember her being referred to as ‘the thinking man’s crumpet’ – saying that in fact nobody did know about Savile. I can well believe it – these people are clever. They hide in plain sight.
Along the same lines was serial killer Dennis Nilsen, portrayed brilliantly and enigmatically by David Tennant on ITV. Des, as he was known, is here an enigmatic figure, at first seemingly baffled by his own crimes, wanting to be helpful to the police, to ‘clear all this mess up.’ He gives them details and confesses freely to a number of murders. But how much was he concealing? How many other murders did he commit and not admit to? The question ‘was he mad or bad?’ – never in any case a simple either/or – was decided in court when he was convicted of multiple murders, but is left entirely open in the series. Des is well worth a watch – in fact it’s so good I may watch it again. And it also has the excellent Jason Watkins, who impresses me more every time I see him.
TV-wise, there’s a lot to look forward to in the autumn: the return of Spitting Image, a new series of The Crown and the second instalment of His Dark Materials, The Subtle Knife. There’s so much good TV in fact that it’s hard to restrict one’s viewing hours – but I must. To that end, OH and I have started doing the ‘Shabbat’ thing again, turning off all devices from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. The aim is basically to reconnect – with yourself and others, with nature, with your thoughts, whatever – and avoid distractions. We did it last week and it was great, except that we hadn’t planned it too well and I did in fact need to use laptop and mobile for some scheduled events. But next weekend we will do better.
The thing that I was going to say, before I got completely sidetracked, was this: what if there were a Hindu or Buddhist version of This is Your Life? Imagine how that would go: Eamonn Andrews would come along with his big book and say, ‘Tonight, Dev Patel, these are your lives. You were born first of all in 4 BC in Ancient Rome…’
It’s fun to think about.