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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Arena: Underground On The Box

Now I know how film makers and actors must feel when they look at the TV review pages. The final part of a trilogy of London Transport films (although it was actually filmed second) was shown on
BBC4 on Saturday night and also repeated last night. Zimena Percival's documentary Arena - Underground featured me (mostly looking like a damn fool) in a history of the London Underground from 1863 to the present day.

Arena: Underground

As it was a repeat or an "another chance to see" showing from 2007, that meant it probably received fewer reviews this time around, than when it was first aired. So I was pleased to stumble upon the following review from "On the Box" of last night's airing.

"The final part of Arena's London Transport Trilogy doesn't seem like an ordinary documentary. It occupies an interesting niche somewhere between historical re-enactment, fly-on-the-wall docu-drama and talking head show. Which is good, as a simple history of the London Underground could get slightly tedious.

Tedious is something that this one certainly isn't. The program opens with a jerky modern view of a mother and her young son navigating the Tube system. A slightly menacing Cockney voice-over promises to tell the tale of the Underground from its origins back in the 1800s to the present day. The modern mother and son suddenly fly back in time, and we see them on board an early Tube train on their way to a public hanging in 1863.....

In order to keep things spicy, the documentary makers have cleverly spliced historic detail with frequent shots of modern life – Tube drivers giving their accounts of what life is like in dingy subterranea, a psychologist analysing Tube conduct and herd mentality, and a Tube enthusiast advising the viewer on the finer points of Tube etiquette (most important, unsurprisingly, is 'Do NOT look at anyone').
"

Arena: Underground - TV Pick of the Day - Daily Star

It was also, "TV Pick of the Day" in the, err, Daily Star. Nice! It's probably the only time that something I'm in will be snuggled between Hollyoaks, EastEnders and Big Brother 9.


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