The life and times of a broadcasting legend
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.