Happy hordes still an­swer to the mas­ter

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

MU­SE­UMS are places peo­ple love or loathe. While some are driven to cul­tural ec­stasy by the pres­ence be­fore their eyes of re­ally old things that speak di­rectly to them of an­cient civil­i­sa­tions, oth­ers are driven only to the mu­seum cafe, and must sit pa­tiently nurs­ing a cof­fee while wait­ing for be­wil­dered cul­ture-vul­ture friends to ar­rive panting and breath­less from the ex­cite­ment of it all.

I’ve al­ways rather iden­ti­fied with the guard in any mu­seum, bored out of his skull by hav­ing to sit still for hours at a time, get­ting up with a groan to stretch his legs.

But be­hind the im­plied at­mos­phere of stuffi­ness in mu­se­ums, there are teams of peo­ple hard at work to make sure things only seem as dull as school­work on a rainy day.

Th­ese dili­gent, hard-work­ing souls are at the heart of this ex­cel­lent se­ries about the Bri­tish Mu­seum, which might en­thral even those who, in real life, would bolt for the cafe at the first op­por­tu­nity. Tonight’s episode is en­ti­tled Putting on a Block­buster, and we see the in­cred­i­ble prepa­ra­tions that go into the pre­sen­ta­tion of re­ally old things that enough peo­ple will love to war­rant such a de­scrip­tion.

Be­cause block­busters al­low the mu­seum to charge en­trance fees, hopes are high that the show will raise £ 1 mil­lion ($ 2.25 mil­lion), which will go a long way to­wards meet­ing ex­penses. So what could pos­si­bly drive more peo­ple to a mu­seum than an en­tire se­ries of rock con­certs? Why, the draw­ings of Michelan­gelo, of course. With a col­lec­tion of works gath­ered from gal­leries around the world, the ex­hi­bi­tion will mark the first time the pieces have been shown to­gether since they left the artist’s stu­dio more than 400 years ago.

But num­bers through the door isn’t

Mu­seum piece: Michelan­gelo’s ev­ery­thing. This is art, af­ter all. What mat­ters al­most as much to cu­ra­tor Hugo Chap­man is the ap­proval of the crit­ics. ‘‘ Be­hind this mask of calm is a seething mass of nerves and anx­i­ety you just don’t see,’’ says Chap­man, com­pletely un­der­es­ti­mat­ing viewer per­cep­tions.

But the show must go on, and of course it does. There’s even a false ceil­ing in one of the gal­leries, on to which scenes from the mas­ter’s paint­ings on the roof of the Sis­tine Chapel are pro­jected.

And what

of

the

crit­ics,

those pow­er­ful men and women wield­ing word pro­ces­sors with the power to make or break a show?

The Evening Stan­dard ’ s art critic Brian Sewell de­clares the ex­hi­bi­tion ‘‘ noth­ing short of a re­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ence’’, and ev­ery other critic falls into line. The show is a huge suc­cess, raises more than £ 1.2 mil­lion, and every­one, es­pe­cially Chap­man, is hugely re­lieved as they head to the cafe to cel­e­brate. I’ll meet them there.

Ian Cuth­bert­son

Ideal Head of a Woman

. The bib­li­cal plagues are back. Ap­par­ently, to pun­ish the pharaoh for en­slav­ing the Is­raelites, God sent down 10 plagues on Egypt, you know, via Moses. The Nile turned to blood, the fish died, in­sects tor­mented an­i­mals and peo­ple, and vi­o­lent storms lashed the earth. The fourth plague was lo­custs, which brings us to tonight’s episode. Lo­custs have been a pain in the, um, neck for agri­cul­tur­al­ists for cen­turies, but even to­day it’s far from clear whether the sci­en­tists or the bugs are winning. This is the sec­ond episode of sea­son two of the must-see hit of the year. Our tele­vi­sion fea­ture this week ( page 20) has the drill on what makes a show a wa­ter-cooler must-see pro­gram, so here’s your chance to dis­cover what all the fuss is about. This episode be­gins with Nick ( Peter Krause, pic­tured) and his part­ner in re­la­tion­ship coun­selling. She’s an­noyed be­cause his job as allpur­pose nanny to the Dar­lings, the rich folk of the ti­tle, takes up all of his time. So he leaves his mo­bile phone on in the ses­sion and it rings con­stantly. Telling? Pre­dictable? I would have walked bare­foot over coals not to miss a mo­ment of Krause’s last show . But in spite of the pres­ence of William Bald­win, Lucy Liu, Don­ald Suther­land and brood­ing Blair Un­der­wood ( ), there’s some­thing en­tirely miss­able about

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