Saturday, January 19, 2013

V for victory?

Credit to Radio 4 for the decision to give another airing to Tony Harrison's superb long poem V next month. Predictably enough, the Daily Mail - who went into full mock outrage mode when Richard Eyre's filmed version was first broadcast on Channel 4 in 1987 - are already agitating about the poem. A way of attacking obsenity and the BBC at the same time? Too good an opportunity to be missed.

Radio 4 controller Gwyneth Williams recently spoke about wanting to "throw some fireworks onto the network" - Harrison's controversial poem should do the trick. That said, it'll be interesting to gauge whether it still has quite the same power as it did in the 1980s. Not just the language, to which I suspect we may have become more desensitised, but also the subject matter: racism and class conflict. While the former is still a burning issue, the latter is perhaps less so - so the references to the Miners' Strike might be more of historical interest than obvious contemporary relevance. (Then again, I was claiming elsewhere and in a different context only the other day that that particular conflict still resonates today.)

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