DIANNE BUT­LER OUT OF THE BOX

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Saturday -

THERE’S a nice rose called The Wife of Bath. They name roses af­ter any­one now, you ba­si­cally just have to ring up and you can get one. But I still think Ge­of­frey Chaucer would be a tiny bit blown away by this . . . what would you call it . . . not ex­actly an hon­our . . . thing.

Blown away by this thing. Yeah, to­day’s episode of Great Thinkers is about Ge­of­frey Chaucer. I s’pose he’s one. Don’t know if I thought it that time I tried to read The Can­ter­bury Tales. He was an orig­i­nal thinker, any­way, and it prob­a­bly amounts to pretty much the same thing.

The Wife of Bath is played by Jenny Eclair in the reen­act­ment here. Jenny Eclair, who you would know from the Grumpy Old Women se­ries.

Did any of you see The Can­ter­bury Tales on UKTV a cou­ple of years ago? That Wife of Bath was fan­tas­tic . . . Julie Wal­ters and Bill Nighy. So good. I loved The Miller’s Tale, too. Den­nis Water­man, to­tally clue­less, and Bil­lie Piper as his wife and James Nes­bitt as the grifter . . . they were so much fun, re­ally in the spirit of Chaucer.

Ob­vi­ously you’ve got Heath Ledger’s film A Knight’s Tale — it’s one of the Can­ter­bury Tale po­ems as well. There’s a heap of dif­fer­ent adap­ta­tions. They’re not just roses.

Mark Steel is the pre­sen­ter here. He’s a co­me­dian and writer, fairly po­lit­i­cal, good with voices, and he gives it the full treat­ment.

I can’t tell you how grate­ful I was this didn’t turn out to be the dry sack of earnest­ness I’d gone in ex­pect­ing. Steel races through Chaucer’s bio us­ing lots of cute and amus­ing ex­tras. He es­pe­cially needs to be com­mended on his ex­cel­lent use of tabloid news­pa­pers.

You re­alise Chaucer died maybe 611 years ago? No­body’s sure, is the thing. Might’ve even been mur­dered. What­ever he was— the Benny Hill of Mid­dle Eng­land?, Steel asks at one point — he was in­flu­en­tial be­yond mea­sure. Great Thinkers of Our Time His­tory Chan­nel, 5.30pm

Blown away: Ge­of­frey Chaucer

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