Under The Lake.

TV  At the risk of sounding like the demented and tormented Brad Pitt detective at the end of the movie Seven, “What’s in the baaaaax????” Lesser stories and episodes than Toby Whithouse's Under The Lake, and we’ve all seen, read and heard them, would have made the idiotic choice of finding a mechanism for opening the suspended animation crate revealing what’s inside the cliff-hanger moment. All the talk of the Sword of Orion led me to Ted Rogers the contents to be a cyberman (partly because the writer also mentions a minuet and I assumed his script was a love-letter to McGann’s first audios season) and it might still be, but the point is that going into the next episode we still don’t know, the script’s self-esteem is high enough that it’s happy to keep some mysteries for its second instalment know full well that there’s enough other hullabaloo bounding around to keep us otherwise enthralled. It’s a BBC Two launch night of a script if you will (including the odd black out).

We’re at episode three, people, and everything is blazing. Within minutes the usual social media platform was buzzing with notices about this being the best episode ever and such (well amongst the dozen of us not watching the rugby) which is probably going a bit far, this is just a superior base under siege story so far not Human Nature. But having spent the day actually looking forward to watching Doctor Who, quite the change from last year when I almost stopped watching (true), the show didn’t disappoint and was actively enjoyable, hitting all the right notes, in the right order and actually made me laugh, a lot, my new second hand armchair shaking beneath me, and pretty scareded on more than one occasion. Which used to be the baseline expectation for Doctor Who before the new series threw it into a vat of contemporary television bells and whistles, so it’s actually comforting to find ones self watching something which isn’t afraid to just stand alone, land the TARDIS somewhere and have at it.

Given Whitehouse’s previous scripts for the series, there’s something pretty iconoclastic about Under The Lake’s traditionalism. Not all of them have worked (GUNS!) (SOMETIMES!) but they’ve all been pretty rangy in how they’ve interpreted the show. Yet here we are on a base, under a lake, with a crew of scientists being menaced by ghosts obscuring some other mystery designed to intrigue the Doctor. As is always the case with two parters it’s impossible to make a judgement about the whole thing yet, and the throw forward (spoiler alert until the end of this paragraph) certainly seems to bend expectations in that we’ll soon be visiting the area of the base before if became the base which I don’t think has happened before, time travel becoming a component for the second story running, but so far Whitehouse has pretty much followed the series five playbook to the Pemberton. Was Vector Pretroleum, a shout out to the Fury of the Deep writer? Let’s hope so.

With all the necessary caveats in place, how are we orientated? Let’s look at the elements, starting with the crew who with the exception of the rather obvious Weyland-Yutani spy played by the usually called upon to be more subtle Steven Robertson, they’re that rare example of a group of professionals assured of their capabilities. How marvellous (as Russell might say) that ours is the show which has a leader whose abilities are just the sort of thing which are required at a crucial moment, who’s capabilities are what drives the story forward and which no one else, even the Doctor it seems, are able to tap into. Sophie Stone was the first deaf person to be accepted at RADA and it’s incalculable the effect of seeing this heroism might have had on children with similar dreams of following in the foot steps of either the actor or her character and it’s to be hoped that a signed repeat of the story turns up on television and the iPlayer as quickly as possible (it's currently listed in the signed section but none of the streams are yet).

It’s an eclectically cast group. The leader's translator Zaqi Ismail’s only other screen credit is Indian Summer II, mostly working otherwise in regional theatre, his ability to read sign language the only skill listed on his CV. To that he should add "able to look petrified, terrified and generally shit scared." Arsher Ali, best known for the Chris Morris film, Four Lions, also in what's usually a fodder role but given enough scope for some genuinely funny emoting. Then right in the middle is the mighty Morvern Christie, finally receiving her Doctor Who credit after having even avoided the gaze of Big Finish's various casting Saurons and utterly charming as she always is. She was literally the only reason I sat through all eight episodes of Frank Spotnitz co-production misfire Hunted and is still on my top five lists for potential future Doctors, the one I keep in back up just in case Romola is too busy as president of the known universe.

Structurally the base is about what it needs to be design wise, with lots of bulkheads and corridors and cargo bays, fulfilling the usual narrative requirements.  Has anyone written a piece for the sorority bulletin about how the aesthetics of these environments have changed across the series both in broadcast order and in-verse chronologically?  Under The Lake offers a pretty classical example, mainly white but with lived in sections, rather like crashing the Liberator into Moonbase Alpha.  All these bases have a unique feature and so here's a Faraday Cage, for which the Radio Times handily asked a proper scientist an explanation the other day which includes the ability to block radio waves making the wifi in the Doctor's sonic sunglasses all the more magical.  If nothing else it reminds me that I haven't watched Planet of the Dead lately.  Let's add Lady Christina De Souza to the list of characters who we hope Big Finish will grant an audio boxed set, shall we?

Like Vampires of Venice, the apparent supernatural elements sadly turns out not to be, an implementation instead of some alien's plan.  Nonetheless these are perfectly spooky examples with their blank spaces and faces with the irony that outside Christie, the episode's most prominent guest cast members find themselves being called upon to speak wordlessly (though perhaps they'll return next week in the earlier time period given their offhand demises here so early in the episode).  Again, Whithouse's script is careful to keep them intriguing.  How are they able to become randomly corporeal enough to carry metal and how come they can't exist within the artificial daylight of the cabin embracing instead the darkness?  Image wise they're genuinely horrific and as every I wonder how this will play with children, how far over the edge this is.  There's plenty of jump-scare horror on Netflix which has design work less potent than this,

After the emotional horrors of last season, Clara and to an extent Jenna, seem happy to allow themselves to slip backwards into a more traditional companion role.  There's a supercut to be made for just how many times she says "Doctor" or asks a question in the episode to such and extent that even the Doctor not only notices but even uncomfortably warns her against "going native" with the implication that she's using this urge for adventure as a way of running from her grief.  Jenna's playing in this scene is extraordinary, the mask of trying to accept the kind of sympathy which is being offered by someone who's only really wanting to make themselves feel better, and wanting that conversation to end.  Let me direct you to this superb animation about the difference between sympathy and empathy (with a trigger warning for anyone touched by tragedy recently) (he says inelegantly), then go back and watch Jenna's face as she allows him to stop, especially her eyes.

But the Doctor's attitude and Capaldi's performance in that scene is the epitome of this new and improved Twelfth Doctor.  Arguably his attitude hasn't changed that much from last year, he's still rude and yes, lacking in empathy, but he's clearly aware that it's a problem with this incarnation and the introduction of the cards (screengrabs here) and the implications of them is warm and funny rather than horrific, I think.  This is no longer the man who simply dismissed all of the humans who went inside the Dalek with him out of hand and we're almost seeing a reverse of the Fourth and Leela during their Hinchcliffe season, of Clara attempting to civilise him.  There's also a quite shameless introduction of Tenth like pop culture referencing too and dime-switching from complement to counterintuitive: the moment when he thanks Christie for turning on all the lights before asking her to do the reverse.  Continuing on from last week (although we don't really know the production order), the actor simply feels more confident in himself and his ability to do his childhood hero justice.

One item which on the one hand is obviously simply a quick way of making the crew trust him but which otherwise has interesting implications is how this 22nd century crew are not just aware of UNIT but also the Doctor as an entity even to the point if LINDA like fandom.  Having spent the best part of a season not too long ago expunging himself from the knowledge of the universe, now some rando in an underwater mining facility has heard of him.  He seems unconcerned by this.  It's possible that this is simple foreshadowing for next week's episode when the Doctor potentially does something notorious enough with the help of future UNIT in the base's past to warrant this recognition.  But in the spin-offs, the "future" history of the organisation is sketchy (even if information about its employee's descendents isn't) so again, we're seeing a very confident script dropping potential hints for some future narrative, either next week in the coming months.

Which returns us to the initial question.  “What’s in the baaaaax????”  The imdb page for the episode has a potentially spoilery casting line, but I'm not convinced it's that simple.  It's not Davros this time.  My boiler plate theory is that it's the Doctor's real body, him having become a ghost for reasons and he'll spend the episode trying to explain this and how to put the two back together in her part of the upcoming episode, the Time Lord having discovered the identity of the person who thought they'd be going in the box, but that doesn't explain the fatalities.  Unless it is a cyberman.  Or it isn't actually revealed next week who is in the box, the Doctor having decided it's probably best not known.  But like The Satan Pit, a locked box simply can't stay closed, it has to be opened and my goodness I can;t wait for the explanation which is a wonderful, wonderful feeling.  Although it's become a disastrous night for English Rugby fans in the period its taken me to write this review, for Doctor Who fans it has been the exact opposite.

On Display.

Art It's well known that a vast percentage of a museum or gallery's collection isn't on display either because the archive is chock full of very average art which has been bequested by well meaning collectors with little taste, or because the work is difficult to adequately display or because tastes have changed. But the percentages are far starker than I'd realised. Here's a BBC Culture paragraph which tots up some statistics:
"The walls of the Tate, the Met, the Louvre or MoMA may look perfectly well-hung, but the vast majority of art belonging to the world’s top art institutions (and in many countries, their taxpayers) is at any time hidden from public view in temperature-controlled, darkened, and meticulously organised storage facilities. Overall percentages paint an even more dramatic picture: the Tate shows about 20% of its permanent collection. The Louvre shows 8%, the Guggenheim a lowly 3% and the Berlinische Galerie – a Berlin museum whose mandate is to show, preserve and collect art made in the city – 2% of its holdings. These include approximately 6,000 sculptures and paintings, 80,000 photographs, and 15,000 prints by artists including George Grosz and Hannah Höch."
The overall piece explains why some pieces aren't shown more often. But there will be plenty of very good museum pieces in all our national collections, which we pay for, that don't see the light simply because of a lack of wall space.

Although there'll be matters of insurance and security, but why not loan these to smaller galleries throughout the country or other municipal institutions, create small "national galleries" in the provinces augmenting existing art collections?

In some of these museums for all the gems, there's also a fair amount of pretty average stuff which is essentially wall filling because it feels like there should be some oils, works on paper are too perishable and which could be replaced with works of international interest.

Arena's Night and Day.

TV As part of its fortieth anniversary celebrations, the BBC's Arena strand will be setting up an internet stream which utilises the show's back catalogue to create a visual experience which maps the hours of a day in a kind of loose version of Christian Marclay's The Clock:
"As Arena approaches its 40th anniversary, the strand sets sail into uncharted waters. 'Night and Day' is a 24 hour visual experience following the pattern of day and night, drawn exclusively from Arena’s rich and varied archive. This is a unique and ground-breaking project, unlike anything seen on your television screens. Night and Day is designed to be experienced on a range of platforms – as a continuous cinema or art piece, as a 24 hour television broadcast, and living permanently as a continuous transmission online, all broadcast in real time, following the light through morning, noon and night. An accompanying second screen app in sync with the main art work will provide further information about the scenes as they unfold."
There'll also be a 90 minute condensed version, although I have a feeling I'll be spending day or two with the longer version.

Out Class and Online.

TV When the official Doctor Who twitter feed knocked out this at six o'clock this evening pretty much everyone was excited:

Cue five hours of random speculation on the Twitters in which most fans seemed to convince themselves that it would be a missing episode announcement or that Osgood was going to be announced as a companion or some such. Unless that was just me. Either way when this happened:

And eventually:

Everyone was:

Even though:

Which is entirely correct.

Anyway, so yes, a Doctor Who's getting a spin-off, it's called Class and it's set in Coal Hill School and it's written by Patrick Ness.

BUT and I've rather buried the headline here, the channel it's for, BBC Three, goes online only in January something which is unmentioned in the above press release (although the Radio Times has noticed).  So when this is "broadcast" next autumn, it's main distribution point will be the iPlayer or a surviving BBC channel late night.

SO Class is, like Spooks: Code 9 before it, is a YA spin-off of a very successful existing property designed to promote the reformating of BBC Three.

Notice too that this is for BBC Three and not CBBC so although it seems like a rerun of SJA to some degree the tone they'll more like be searching for is Buffy or Almost Human but not, we should suspect Torchwood.

Speculation: the return of Courtney and Jenna Coleman as a series regular.  Ian Chesterton cameo and Capaldi appearing in at least one episode.

Patrick Ness is supposed to be quite good.  I wasn't a huge fan of his Puffin eBook from 2013 featuring Fifth and Nyssa, his only other Who credit so far, but you do have to ask why him?  Are we seeing the BBC training someone to take over from Moffat?  He only has one other screenwriting credit albeit on a major motion picture based on his own novel.

We don't know much about it but in general I'm still, well, hum.  The Caretaker was the third worst episode of last year but that was mainly due to the appalling gender politics rather than anything to do with the school.  But it doesn't feel like anything spectacularly new based on the press release, essentially Grange Hill with aliens and haven't we seen that already?

Which isn't to say that a Paternosters spin-off would be the better choice but there was certainly scope to introduce a thing in the main series, as per Torchwood, which was a bit more unusual.  But the scope of this seems firmly based on what could be budgeted relatively cheaply as per most precinct dramas.  I'll try not to pre-judge though.  We await casting announcements with great interest.

Rufford Old Hall.

A fine Tudor building, the home for stories of romance, wealth and 500 years of Hesketh family history.

Be wowed by the Tudor Great Hall with its fantastic furniture, arms, armour, tapestries and the carved oak screen, a rare survivor from the 1500s. History springs to life in the Hesketh's dining room, its food-laden table, lit candles and 'fire in the hearth' waiting to welcome the family's dinner guests.

And did Shakespeare spend a short time here in his youth? There’s reasonable evidence to suggest that he could once have known Rufford’s Great Hall for a few months whilst still in his teens. Ask us about the evidence and decide for yourself!

Then relax as you stroll through Rufford's Victorian and Edwardian gardens - and remember you're only a few feet (or metres) above sea level - making Rufford one of the lowest lying National Trust gardens in England.
Heritage  Sitting on my desk right now, next to this laptop, is a small brown cardboard box with the words My National Trust embossed into the lid with a logo containing the silhouette of an oak leaf above.  Everything about it is making me smile.  Becoming a member of the National Trust wasn't something I set out to do today.  But after surprising myself with a visit to Rufford Old Hall having only discovered its existence yesterday, and realising at the entrance gate that the fiver per month membership fee by direct debit was wholly affordable and cheaper than the average entrance fee (having previously looked at the lump sum approach of old and shivered), I handed over my Visa Debit details and was given in return a copy of the 2015 handbook.  The membership card will be in the post by the end of next month.

After completing the North West Art Collections project, I've been a bit of a loose end wanting to try something else.  Various ideas have been researched and rejected.  After watching the funeral of Richard III, I considered seeing the tombs of all the British monarchs.  But that's messy geographically, plus it felt like more of a box ticking exercise and the only proper way to do it would be chronologically and frankly, yes but no.  Another was to work through the remaining art collections in Your Paintings but many of them are in official buildings ill equipped for visits by members of the public so there'd never be a case of simply just turning up.  I almost decided to try and see everything by a particular artist but then there was the process of choosing the artist and it was inevitably going to be someone with lots of work in private collections.

The National Trust, in the end, was inevitable.  For one thing I've already visited a couple of the properties for the purposes of the other project as you'll see if you click the new tag at the bottom of this post.  Plus there's a decent iProduct app with a structure that shows properties closest to you so there's a fairly logical approach to fanning out from home into the country.  But there's also the fact that although there's a relatively finite amount of destinations, there are enough that I'm unlikely to run out ever.  So it's a project which feels like it has the potential for completion but really doesn't and also has the added bonus of forcing me to visit properties even further afield in places I wouldn't otherwise have a reason to visit, just like the other project (although just like the other project everything is public transport and cost permitting).

Rufford Old Hall, then. The origins of the house are messy. A property has stood on the land since the 14th century, but a version of the current building was erected in 1530 (of which great hall (pictured) is the only surviving element), possibly by Thomas Hesketh after a series of inheritances of the kind which tended to happen then because women weren't allowed to keep hold of the money which we'd now deem quite rightly as being theirs. The house then stayed in the family for centuries who made a series of changes including the current extensions, although the main family subsequently moved to a Rufford New Hall which led to this building getting its name. As well as the family, it also attracted numerous tennants including a school who used the main hall during one of the periods of building work.

The entry on Your Paintings, the Wikipedia and this old local guide book transcript have versions of the story which somewhat contradict one another and even having also heard it described by one of the volunteer guides in the house, I'm still unclear as to the chronology and who these people were.  Perhaps I should have bought a guide book.  Perhaps the National Trust's own website should be more detailed.  Ultimately the house itself has resolved itself into two periods, the Tudor section of the great hall and the rest of the house which since being gifted to the Trust in 1936 has largely been regressed back to how it would have looked in the Victorian era when the majority of the fixtures and fittings were originally installed.  A lot of these had been moved to the family's eventual regular home at Easton Neston but then bought back when the contents of that property were sold in 2004.

It's at time like this I remember wistfully the more linear philanthropic development of regional art collections.  On entering the house my first question, just to make sure, was whether there was any particularly distinguished paintings and the first answer was no but after exploring and chatting to the various volunteers this turned out to be not quite right.  The majority of the collection is production line family portraits and in some of these you can actually see how the body and background had been prepared by one artist ready for another to paint in the face of the given subject.  But in the dressing room upstairs there's a massive collection of flower watercolours by Ellen Stevens which had been bought by the Trust who decided they'd be best presented at Rufford.  Minutely detailed and observed, they're almost worth the visit to the house by themselves.

The best oil painting in the house is the utterly thrilling An Extensive Landscape with Exotic Flowers, Fruit and Vegetables and a 'Noli me Tangere' in the Garden Beyond by the obscure Flemish painter Gommaert van der Gracht.  Glancing towards the surrealism four hundred odd years before Dali and Magritte, Gracht combines a landscape, still life, animal painting with a religious scene.  Superbly detailed fruit fill almost half the composition, with a goat representing Adam eating fruit from a tree on which vines represent a serpent.  Meanwhile in the background, a resurrected Jesus visits Mary Magdalene, the allegorical message being that we're seeing the original sin being forgiven.  Here's an image though the postage stamp you're looking at fails the capture the grandeur of this canvas which fills half a wall in the dining room.

As you can see from the above quote from the Trust website, Rufford's other claim to fame is a Shakespeare connection, the idea being that the playwright spent part of the missing years here both as a player in a tour company and assistant teacher in around 1585.  The only potential documentary evidence appears to be a will by Alexander Houghton of Lea Hall near Preston which states:
"Item. It is my mind and will that the said Thomas Hoghton of Brynescoules my brother shall have all my instruments belonging to music, and all manner of play clothes if he be minded to keep and do keep players.

"And if he will not keep and maintain players then it is my mind and will that Sir Thomas Hesketh knight shall have the same instruments and play clothes.

"And I most heartily require the said Sir Thomas to be friendly unto Fluke Gyllome and William Shakeshafte now dwelling with me and either to take them into his service or else to help them to some good master as my trust is he will."
Shakeshafte being Shakespeare in this instance. The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare is cynical, noting that Shakespeare has to be back in Stratford two years later to marry Anne Hathaway and that although Shakeshaft was a common name in the area at the time, there's no evidence of it having been used interchangeably in Shakespeare's family.  In other words, as is so often the case with the man, we simply don't know.  But there are some related books, including the RSC Complete Works in the gift shop just in case.

Although it's only a relatively small house, the visit filled about three and a half hours including a Lancashire cheese sandwich in the cafe which has been set up in the house's original kitchens.  The rest of the visitors were of retirement age and plenty of them seemed to buzz around within about half an hour (apart from one gentleman who was admirably thorough with his questions of the volunteers, right down to how the cutlery was arranged in the dining room).  But I tended to sit in each of the rooms flicking through the large visitor guides provided and enjoying being in the space mostly because I know what 2015 is like and something you just want to get away from it as much as possible.  Becoming a National Trust member genuinely feels like the next best thing to being handed the keys to a TARDIS.

My Favourite Film of 1979.

Film Glancing backwards through this list as we creep ever closer to the moment when I'll be choosing films released before the year of my birth, one pattern which is emerging is how often a film hasn't just been something I've enjoyed on a visceral or emotional level but also as a kind of gateway to something else, be it the art of Surat in the case of Ferris Bueller, the cosmology of Sunshine and Shakespeare's appearance in Star Trek VI (probably) (if I'm being honest).  There's a sense that I'm especially drawn to films which don't just exist as pure entertainment but also have the weight of being a kind of cultural event in which the narrative and character are extrapolated through and drawn around cultural artifacts leading to a much deeper experience.

Manhattan's a case in point.  When I saw the film on Channel 4, years after its original release I was overwhelmed, not just by Gordon Willis's mythologising photography of the city or the psychologically complex characterisation, but also the cultural references, most of which I didn't understand at the time but wanted to.  This is probably the first time I heard Gershwin, of Flaubert, of Cezanne, of Fellini and Zelda Fitzgerald.  There are also the locations: the Guggenheim, the American Museum of Natural History, Bloomingdale's, MOMA, the Whitney.  When watching Manhattan, you're not just watching a film, you're listening to a concert, you're visiting an art exhibition, reading literature and you're being given an architectural tour and the director makes sure that you notice.  He wants you to notice.

Recently, there seems to be less of these films as "cultural events" because film culture in particular is increasingly scared to alienating its audience by presenting it with culture (and even a culture) it might not necessarily be aware of in an otherwise familiar context.  How often now do we see adaptations, even of contemporary novels, and the first element to be excised or neutered are the cultural references?  Or in order to make the life of an artist or poet acceptable to a wider audience, the work they create is backgrounded in favour of a love story or some other historical moment.  Pollock's a rare example of a film in which you actually learn something about his method and inspiration on top of his psychological underpinning and biography (indeed it's the very film which finally led me to understanding why his earlier work, at least, is great).

Which is why the rare occasions when films do embrace such things can be a joy.  The underrated Liberal Arts has a sequence in which its protagonist is introduced to a ton of classical music in a montage sequence through which we watch him experience a cultural awakening and I expect most of us are right along with him and straight to Spotify to listen to these pieces in full.  Which isn't to say that sometimes filmmakers don't get such things horrendously wrong.  Welcome as it is to see Jane Austen feature in The Rewrite, she's generally ridiculed and there's no way on earth a scholar of the calibre Allison Janney's apparently playing wouldn't be aware of Clueless or not seen any of the adaptations.  I have a theory that the professors Janney plays in each of these films are somehow related and argue the toss over such matters at Thanksgiving.

I've often talked about a kind of cultural awakening which happened in the early 90s and Manhattan and plenty of Woody Allen's other films and films in general will have been a contributing factor (and since it's important to credit the gateway, it was probably Ed Chigliak in Northern Exposure and his various dream sequences) (Northern Exposure was also a huge factor but this list doesn't feature television) (ahem).  Which isn't to say that they're designed that way.  When Alvy pulls out Marshall Mcluhan in Annie Hall, it's in front of an audience he expects to know who Marshall Mcluhan is (even if it's not necessarily necessary in order to understand the joke).  It's worth noting I've yet to see The Sorrow and the Pity and it's The Last Action Hero which led to me watch The Seventh Seal.

Nevertheless this seems to me to be one of the embraceable cliches.  From the moment we're born, we're constantly absorbing the culture around us, accepting some, rejecting others, leading to a set of behaviours or something to live up to.  Much of the time it's a manufactured fantasy but the trick, if we're to remain sane, is to counter intuitively follow Cypher's request in The Matrix to be re-inserted otherwise we'll spend our lives like Neo, nostalgically glancing out of car windows at restaurants we used to eat, with really good noodles, that we now know don't exist.  When I saw Manhattan, I didn't see any justifiable reason why, even if I could never live in this 1979 city, I couldn't at least enjoy some of its benefits.  Hello Rhapsody in Blue.  Hello Fellini.  Hello as many other films set in New York as I could find which included Jon Jost's All The Vermeers in New York.  Hello Vermeer.

Which isn't to say I actively wanted to live my life like the characters in the film.  They seems so old and stressed out and I didn't really fancy Muriel Hemingway (because it would have felt like I was cheating on Debbie Gibson and the girl I fancied on the 80 bus) (teenage boys are curious beings).  But it was the idea of having that sort of cultural awareness which was attractive, of being the sort of person who would sit in the evening listening to records or reading the latest novels rather than playing Wizball on the C64 and watching the Justice episode of Star Trek: TNG for the umpteenth time (like I said, teenage boys...).  I still aspire to all that and manage it sometimes, through in present circumstance I have noticeably been watching more films which is always a fallback position but which it should be added I don't feel embarrassed about because why should I?

But when critics and audiences increasingly describe films as empty experiences, it's impossible not to attribute some of that to the loss of culture and of presenting characters connected to aspirationally higher art.  Film companies necessarily want to present audiences with characters they think they'll identify with which means they're more like to go to a rock concert than an opera house and if they do visit an opera house, it'll be part of a "fish out of water" routine or an action sequence rather than their natural repose.  Say what you like about Amazon's television selection, but between Mozart in the Jungle and hiring Whit Stillman and Woody himself to produce series it's unembarrassed by its high art tendencies.  If only this was still true of the big screen.  Still, we'll always have Manhattan.

On Doctor Who ratings.

TV The consolidated "ratings" for Doctor Who's The Magician's Apprentice are out:

As you'll see this doesn't include the iPlayer numbers so essentially they're a fiction and in no way reflect the actual number of people who watched episode in subsequent days and as will be the case now weeks, since it'll be hanging around the streaming service for a good time yet.  We won't really know the implications of the numbers until the regular column is published in the association gazette in a month or so.

Which is the point.  You can look at The Witch's Familiar's numbers and bang your head against a table until your forehead bleeds but 3.7m overnight isn't awful in the current television climate.  Few things are appointment television any more especially drama and there are loads of die-hard fans of the kind which work on the show and its ancillary spin-off material who don't even bother watching it on broadcast.  The only reason I do is so I can get the review out that night.

Let's not worry about cancellations and hiatuses just yet.  Moffat's said in the past that the show's emergence on a Saturday night is increasingly becoming its "publication" time and that they only really care about how many people consume it across its life, rather like a movie which barely registers at the cinema but does well on dvd and streaming.  If people lose interest in these later moments, that's when we begin to worry.

One of the reasons viewers must be timeshifting is because its often difficult to keep track of what time Doctor Who is on.  In its current broadcast position, Doctor Who is a slave to Strictly, TX dependent on the current duration of that lead in programme.  Ideally Who would be on first and has been previously, but because of some astonishing lack of nerve in the face of Simon Cowell, the DCMS and who knows what, the drama's been sacrificed against The X Factor and the Rugby.

Updated!  29/09/2015  The Guardian's posted a ratings update hidden in a wider story about comments from BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore saying she'd be ok about a female Doctor.  Mentions that the show's had an 1.5m viewings so far on the iPlayer which puts the show's "rating" at 8m - though of course 6.5m of that is extrapolated speculation rather than solid, countable streams.

Doctor Who News also mentions the overnights for the Sunday omnibus.  The share seems bizarrely low, but again it was opposite the rugby.Nevertheless, it's still wrong to say the ratings are dropping.  The ratings are just fine.

More on Women in Film.

Film The Observer this weekend ran a couple of pieces about women in film which underscore, just as this tiff Q&A does, the huge gap between men and women in the industry. Firstly an interview with Geena Davis, who is a key example of how Hollywood treats its actresses so poorly:
At 59, Davis is familiar with the crushing silence of a phone that never rings. Women in film are, she says “definitely” discriminated against because of their age.

“I was averaging about one movie a year my whole career and that was because I’m fussy. I probably could have done more. And then in my 40s I made one movie… And I was positive it wasn’t going to happen to me because I got a lot of great parts for women. I was very fortunate to have all that stuff happen and never get typecast, so I was just cruising along thinking: ‘Well yeah, it won’t happen to me.’ It did.”
Then nine women in film talk about the sexism they've either seen or experienced themselves. Agnes Godard, cinematographer:
"I have experienced sexism at work. Most of the time it’s a refusal to do what you’ve asked, or to doubt the legitimacy of the instruction. The most illustrative thing I went through was a long time ago, in 1983, when I was a focus puller on the Wim Wenders film Paris, Texas. The director of photography (DoP) was Robby Müller and I split my role with his usual focus puller. One week Robby wasn’t there and I set the camera and did a frame. When Robby arrived, he said, “Who did this beautiful frame? It’s really good”, and the grip, who was next to me, said it was the male assistant who made it. I was just speechless – I felt invisible. I think I said something, but it was like a whisper, because I was astonished. And I was shy and quite young at the start of my career, and I didn’t feel I could complain."
Trigger warning: the comments on both articles fulfil Lewis's Law.