I've been getting a fair number of page referrals from the BBC after writing about the recent three-part Jonathan Meades on France, and feeling a bit guilty because I didn't really write all that much - this interview from The Dabbler was far more deserving of attention, even if it was a bit too combative for my tastes. Anyway, the series is currently being repeated on BBC HD, and for a show so visually inventive and beautifully shot that can only be a good thing.
The first part, Fragments of an Arbitrary Encyclopedia, has already had its HD outing and is up on the iPlayer for the next fortnight. The second, A Biased Anthology of Parisian Peripheries, is up on BBC HD tonight, after which expect a similar appearance on iPlayer. It's a superb hour of television, eschewing the usual depiction of Paris for something altogether more nuanced, more complex - there's no Amélie here - with the focus on France's colonial history, by force and by culture. I felt like I learned an awful lot from this, or perhaps more accurately became aware just how little I knew when it came to France's position in the world, particularly the inclusiveness (of a sort) offered up to colonials willing to become 'French' in a way the British Empire never did, and how Parisian homes seem to have become de rigeur for dictators and tyrants.
The third part, Just A Few Debts France Owes To America, gets HDified next Monday. To be honest I didn't connect with this, it felt too over the place compared to the previous episodes - but I'm half convinced this is more a fault on my part, that I wasn't paying attention enough. I'll give it another spin in its hi-def form and hide all distractions in the shed.
ANYWAY, the point of writing this follow-up post is to direct anyone who comes a-looking from the BBC site to check out Jonathan Meades' upcoming book. Yes! It's true! It's happening via the crowd-sourcing publishing site Unbound, and will be (according to yonder site)...
a handsome volume (heavy on the handfeel) containing five full scripts of his most important TV films (illustrated with stills) and about forty pieces, including ten longer essays. Very little of this material will have been read by a general audience; the scripts, in particular, have never appeared in print before and offer an extraordinary insight into Meades meticulous working methods and his subversive visual style.
Wifey & I signed up to this as soon as we heard about it - being crowdsourced, there's different levels of 'support' (ie money) you can give, from a straight up tenner for the e-book version to £250 for (among other things) lunch with the man himself, a prospect I am neither wealthy nor interesting enough to consider. If we were a) London-types and b) not on the verge of parenthood, the launch party option might have been the way to go, but as it was we committed to the hardback at £20.
The project managed to meet its target by the deadline late last year, but you can still sign up for the book ahead of publication which, according to an email from Unbound last week, will become available to subscribers in the week before 31st May, with the text fully delivered to the publishers. The book is called Museum Without Walls and sounds like the perfect written companion to the totally-bloody-essential-even-if-you-can-see-them-all-on-YouTube* The Jonathan Meades Collection DVD.
*see MeadesShrine for much, much more.