Monday, April 5, 2010

Lit. & Phil.

I came across this 1978 Iris Murdoch/Brian Magee interview a couple of days ago. I like it for a number of reasons. The brisk opening music is ripe for satire, & Brian Magee seems to be exactly the kind of media intellectual Stephen Fry liked to spoof in A Bit of Fry & Laurie: accent, intonation, repetitions, hand gestures, it's all deliciously there. And what about Iris Murdoch - gruff voiced, and glowering, with the beautifully plummy "Yus, yus," as she agrees with Magee? What a surprise when she smiles! From this vantage point, it's funny, and endearing, but the conversation is also a genuinely interesting one, and the two are allowed plenty of airtime. It's a timepiece, and reminds me of what a lifeline television was to a teenager marooned in a dull provincial town, with little access to adequate libraries or bookshops. Even though there was plenty of entertaining dross to watch (and watch I did!) television in the 70's still had a mandate to Educate the Layman and Propagate Culture. There were plenty of good quality plays (earnest social realism, the pioneering drama of Dennis Potter), & plenty of talking head discussions & documentaries. I lapped this kind of stuff up.