Virginia, Duncan and Vanessa in Life in Squares.
The Bloomsbury Group were unlikeable – but Life in Squares is too adoring to show it
By Rachel Cooke - 30 July 14:14

Admittedly, Life in Squares is a pretty high-class kind of soap opera - but it's still about who is sleeping with who.

E L Doctorow in 2007. Photo: Getty
E L Doctorow and the limits of historical fiction
By Liv Constable-Maxwell - 24 July 11:45

What do J P Morgan, Sigmund Freud and Kim Kardashian all have in common with E L Doctorow? A hazy relationship between fact and fiction, that's what.

An artist's impression of NASA's New Horizons probe approaching Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. Photo: NASA/JHU APL/SwRI/Steve Gribben
Is Pluto really the “beige planet”?
By Antonia Quirke - 23 July 14:49

McGovern’s microphone sagged. “I just had my feeling about this particular planet go down a notch.” “The Beige Planet,” piped up her co-presenter, Lawrence Pollard.

South Bank smoothie: much more than big hair
Humble beginnings: an unnervingly moving portrait of Melvyn Bragg
By Rachel Cooke - 23 July 13:48

Yes, Melvyn Bragg is charming, handsome, luxuriantly haired, articulate, a quick study. But there is something questing about him, too – and it is this that made him such a fine interviewee.

Shackles used on slaves are displayed at the International Museum of Slavery in Liverpool. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners is fascinating - but the horrors can speak for themselves
By Rachel Cooke - 16 July 10:37

Better to give the viewer a quiet moment to absorb such horror than to attempt to underline it with one’s own feelings.

The Greek flag flies. Athens International Radio shows the Greeks have been sucker-punched - but not broken. Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
As Greece faces the music, the radio chatter quiets
By Antonia Quirke - 16 July 10:17

“I think a popular movement might arise from this to take action and lead to new politics!” thrilled a guest on Athens International Radio.

A man listens to radio in Nigeria's Borno state, as the region recovers from clashes with Islamist groups. Photo: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images
As governments shut down radio, the BBC world service is a lifeline
By Antonia Quirke - 09 July 13:39

“The exercise of making radio matters,” said a caller. “It’s a symbol of resistance.”

Housing officer Brian features in Channel 4's How To Get a Council House. Photo: Channel 4
Channel 4's How to Get a Council House is infuriating and compassionate by turns
By Rachel Cooke - 09 July 13:31

Is it a legitimate left-liberal position not to want any more cuts, yet still to feel that some people take the piss? Or does that make me Andy Burnham?

Rihanna's BBHMM music video is an example of the Ballardian Atrocity Exhibition. Photo: YouTube Screengrab
BBC imperialism, the enigma of John Freeman, and Rihanna’s Atrocity Exhibition
By Jason Cowley - 08 July 17:26

The Rihanna video is a prime exhibit in what J G Ballard called modern society’s Atrocity Exhibition.

Michael Dobbs at the House of Cards Netflix screening, 2013. Photo: Getty
House of Cards creator Michael Dobbs: "I must have sold my soul"
By Anoosh Chakelian - 07 July 13:53

The man behind television's most masterful political operator reveals the inspiration for his story, gives advice to the PM on the powers of persuasion, and recalls his own real-life political dramas.

Azealia Banks singing. Photo:Getty
From Nina Simone to Azealia Banks: female singers who aren't afraid to swear
By Liv Constable-Maxwell - 07 July 11:58

The new documentary What’s Happened, Miss Simone makes an interesting point about the power of women singers using swear words.

"Oh it all makes so much sense now. Those sensible shoes…" Picture: New Statesman
Exclusive: the long-awaited lesbian Peppa Pig fanfiction
By Eleanor Margolis - 06 July 16:27

Norman Lamb MP recently critisized the lack of queer representation in the hit children's TV show. But how would it work in practice?

Mess hall: Tiggy (centre) faces up to reality with Denise and Vinny
Are posh people filthier than us? Yes - but their stories matter, too
By Rachel Cooke - 02 July 14:31

I wondered if there had ever been a lover. Had her parents been kind? When she cared for her ailing father, who had dominated whom?

Incredulous: Not the face Sandra Bullock was making as Steve Wright introduced her. Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Sandra Bullock visited the studio - but Steve Wright kept talking as though she wasn't there
By Antonia Quirke - 02 July 13:59

“Sandra Bullock is quite simply the world’s most successful actress,” he informed Sandra Bullock.

Sandi Toksvig welcoming her guests for her last News Quiz. Photo: BBC/Lucy Eliot-Higgitt
Black tie, BBC “bias” and blubbing: at Sandi Toksvig’s last News Quiz
By Caroline Crampton - 26 June 15:33

The host of BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz is stepping down after nine years to go into politics. Caroline Crampton was there at her last recording.

The Seattle Music Project, designed by Frank Gehry. Photo: REX
Alan Yentob's TV tribute to Frank Gehry was so in thrall, it was embarrassing
By Rachel Cooke - 25 June 14:23

The Gehry worshippers were like fashion editors at a Prada show, only minus the clothes, handbags and hair.

Alistair McGowan as Jimmy Savile. Photo: Helen Maybanks
A terrifying, sweaty memory: Alistair McGowan's dark turn as Jimmy Savile
By Mark Lawson - 19 June 12:02

McGowan's performance demonstrates the combination of eccentricity and intimidation that allowed Savile first to lure his victims and then to disguise his abuse of them.

Ginger nut: Chris Evans in his TFI heyday.
Thank f*** it's over: Chris Evans' TFI Friday is still awful, twenty years later
By Rachel Cooke - 18 June 16:59

TFI Friday was quite nasty at its edges: it gave off a strong whiff of bullying and low-level belligerence. The male graduate population of north London seemed not to notice this.

Game of Thrones: Trust me, if SPOILER were really dead, they'd have died in episode 9
By Jonn Elledge - 18 June 12:15

The sudden death in the last scene of Monday's Game of Thrones was a cliffhanger, nothing more.

Stephen Mangan in Sky Arts' Birthday. Photo: Sky Arts
The Mumsnet bloggers left me queasy – but Birthday is still excellent television
By Rachel Cooke - 11 June 18:29

I loved Birthday, but the bloggers were mostly unable to see beyond personal experience in the matter of art.

TS Eliot, whose Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock has its centenary this year. Photo: Chris Bacon/AFP/Getty Images
On the air, the actors come and go: how the establishment adopted T S Eliot
By Antonia Quirke - 11 June 18:13

It's the quickest shortcut to gravitas. T S Eliot has been stolen by actors, like burglars with the crown jewels.

Amy Schumer in April 2015. Photo: Robin Marchant/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival
Why everyone is talking about Amy Schumer
By Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett - 09 June 12:48

She’s a feminist comedian who doesn’t shy away from ridiculing women. She reaches millions of viewers on the internet without breaking a sweat. Oh, and she’s just really, really funny.

Cracks up: Anthony Andrews and Cara Theobold in The Syndicate.
The (utterly batty) Syndicate is the gift that keeps on giving
By Rachel Cooke - 04 June 17:41

I would love to have been in the meeting when Mellor pitched this version of her drama.

Caroll Spinney (left, wearing legs) with Big Bird architect Kermit Love. Photo: © COPPER POT PICTURES
How Big Bird got to Sesame Street
By Erica Wagner - 04 June 13:42

Caroll Spinney has been playing Sesame Street's star for 46 years. I Am Big Bird shows the man behind the feathery mask.

Handel, who new research suggests has invested in the slave trade. Photo: YouTube screengrab
In Search of the Black Mozart: A revealing look at Handel's investment in the slave trade
By Antonia Quirke - 04 June 11:54

The programme slowed palpably to accept the age-old information that people who create beauty aren’t always good and frequently don’t even come close.

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