The life and times of a broad­cast­ing leg­end

Macclesfield Express - - TVWEEK -

Melvyn Bragg has been called ev­ery­thing in his time. But it’s for some­thing far more ba­sic that he is likely to be re­mem­bered, long af­ter the big names of literature have been ticked off his South Bank Show guest list. It’s sex. Steamy sex. Raunchy sex. Read-be­hind-the­bike shed sex. All con­tained in the well-thumbed pages of his highly ac­claimed nov­els which have been known to bring read­ers as well as the literary world out in a sweat.

Re­mem­ber A Time To Dance, which was se­ri­alised on tele­vi­sion in 1992? Bragg could barely move for the letters which poured into his of­fice from peo­ple who could iden­tify with the steamy shenani­gans go­ing on be­tween a mid­dle-aged bank man­ager and his young lover. And what about Crys­tal Rooms? It made A Time To Dance seem like Mary Pop­pins.

But Bragg, now 75, de­fends those ‘meaty bits’ by say­ing: “I write about sex be­cause it’s there to be writ­ten about.” Adding with rel­ish: “In other peo­ple’s books it’s of­ten sala­cious or crude. In mine it in­volves mys­tery, awe and cer­tain uniden­ti­fi­able feel­ings...” But there’s more, much more, to Melvyn Bragg’s im­mea­sur­able tal­ents than a hand­ful of steamy sex scenes.

Three films, a cou­ple of mu­si­cals, a best-selling bi­og­ra­phy of Richard Bur­ton, sev­eral more nov­els, shows on both ra­dio and TV... need he go on?

But Melvyn isn’t one to brag (sorry). He doesn’t need to. The re­sults of his pro­lific work­load are there for ev­ery­one to see, en­joy, and com­ment on. Yes, even snig­ger be­hind the bike sheds. And by all ac­counts there’s plenty more on the way. “If you ask me what I want to be do­ing in five years’ time I would say pretty much what I’m do­ing now,” he re­marks.

Bragg is clearly do­ing some­thing right be­cause he’s about to celebrate 50 years as one of Bri­tain’s fore­most cham­pi­ons of the arts.

Melvyn Bragg: Wig­ton to Westminster (Satur­day, BBC2, 9.15pm) takes him back to his roots in Wig­ton in Cum­bria, and ex­am­ines how his back­ground has had an in­flu­ence on his ca­reer.

There’s also a chance to find out more about his univer­sity years, rise to fame and sta­tus as a mem­ber of the House of Lords.

Plus, an eclec­tic group of fa­mous faces of­fer their opin­ions on Bragg and his work, in­clud­ing Judi Dench, Tony Blair, Grayson Perry, Chris Evans and Will Self.

In­flu­ence Doc­u­men­tary about the broad­caster's life.

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