Ian Ber­ri­man wants the BBC to res­ur­rect a muchloved cult movie slot

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there’s still a place for the act of cu­rat­ing

Bring back Moviedrome! If you love ex­plor­ing the ob­scure back­wa­ters of cin­ema and are of a cer­tain age, your heart prob­a­bly just leapt in your chest. But for the ben­e­fit of younglings, I’d bet­ter ex­plain.

Moviedrome was a slot which ran on BBC Two from 1988- 2000. The for­mat was sim­ple, with a cult movie ( not al­ways a genre flick – though many were) or a themed dou­ble bill pre­ceded by a short in­tro­duc­tion. In the slot’s first in­car­na­tion ( 1988 to 1994), these were pro­vided by film­maker Alex Cox. Later on ( 1997- 2000), critic Mark Cousins took the ba­ton.

I also hold David Pirie’s 1973 book A Her­itage Of Hor­ror, Michael Wel­don’s Psy­chotronic En­cy­clo­pe­dia Of Film and Jonathan Ross’s TV se­ries The In­cred­i­bly Strange Film Show re­spon­si­ble for my en­dur­ing pas­sion for cult cin­ema, but it was Moviedrome that ac­tu­ally gave me the chance to watch these movies rather than sim­ply have them de­scribed to me. It was there I first wit­nessed Ed­ward Wood­ward’s fiery death in The Wicker Man, Grant Wil­liams bat­tling a spi­der in The In­cred­i­ble Shrink­ing Man, and Ray Mil­land blind­ing him­self in X: The Man With X- Ray Eyes.

Of course, the cin­e­matic land­scape has trans­formed in the last 15 years. Cult films have never been eas­ier to ac­cess, thanks to DVDs, down­loads and spe­cial­ist chan­nels. But in the face of all that data, it’s easy to be swamped. There’s still some­thing to be said for the act of cu­rat­ing; still a place for a knowl­edge­able guide who can place a film into con­text, and pro­voke you to think about it in a dif­fer­ent way. That’s what made Alex Cox’s ten­ure as host par­tic­u­larly sat­is­fy­ing. He al­ways had a stim­u­lat­ingly skewed per­spec­tive – even when he was diss­ing the movies! Decades later I still trea­sure bat­tered pho­to­copies of the book­lets the BBC pro­duced to ac­com­pany the se­ries ( and see http:// bit. ly/ moviedrome).

I’d love to see him take the gig on again, ideally on a chan­nel with the reach of BBC Two. But fail­ing that, maybe a slot on BBC Four, with some­one like Mark Gatiss at the helm? If you’re out there, Chan­nel Editor Cas­sian Har­ri­son, how about it?

How many of the 20 had you seen?

Ray Mil­land’s clearly miss­ing Moviedrome too.

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