Saturday, 9 July 2016
First viewed : Uncertain
I must admit I never quite got my head around the difference between Omnibus and Arena , the two long-running arts strands, except that the former was on BBC1 and the latter on BBC2.
Arena started in 1975 and was originally split into two separate strands on alternate weeks , one dealing with the theatre and one with art and design . A third strand for cinema started the following year and there were new ones for "Television" and "Rock" in 1978 which were only used for one episode each. This demarcation was scrapped in 1979.
The first Arena episode I can definitely recall watching is the one on 21 May 1980 which featured the work of satirists Peter Fluck and Roger Law who of course went on to do Spitting Image. At this point their work was in plasticene with completely static figures to be used for magazine covers and illustrations.
As with other long-running strands I will add to this as we go along -
Superman ( 26 December 1981 )
As the title suggests , this episode looked at the origins and cultural impact of the original American superhero, beginning by interviewing its creators Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel. It mixed footage from the various incarnations with talking head contributions from the obvious ( Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder ) to little-known academics and alternative comic champions. It didn't avoid the darker aspects of the tale such as the name's origin with Nietzsche or the suicide of 1950s TV Superman George Reeves. And of course we know the story had another dark twist to come. The part I recall best is British strong man Dave Prowse grousing about not getting the part because he wasn't an American ( as his West Country burr would have made obvious ) and then being asked to buff up Christopher Reeve for the role "so he looks just like you ".