Henry VIII: Patron or Plunderer?; An African Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby
Wednesday night we watched the second half of the Henry VIII programme. This covered the post-first-divorce period, and thus covered a lot of destruction of artworks (including architecture) - in particular as part of the dissolution of the monasteries. And along the way we got all the usual biographical details including the last 4 wives (in brief). One of the points the programme brought out was that Henry wasn't into art for its own sake - pieces would be commissioned (or buildings built) to display Henry's wealth, status and power, and to send messages to the viewers. As propaganda, effectively. I enjoyed watching this programme - lots of neat things to see (like the tapestries at Hampton Court), and things to learn. But I was a bit disappointed that it didn't really answer its own question - I'd expected a sum-up at the end giving us the presenter's view on whether the evidence added up to "patron" or "plunderer". I guess from what we saw I'd say there was more patronage than destruction, but the central question seemed to be forgotten by the script in favour more of a straightforward biography (albeit with an art/architecture focus). Still good tho, and I'd watch other programmes with the same presenter (Jonathan Foyle) coz he was quite good.
The second programme of the evening was another episode of An African Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby. This time covering three countries in East Africa - Ethiopia, Kenya & Tanzania. The Ethiopian segment spent a bit of time covering the ways the government & society are trying to stop there being another famine (including agricultural improvements, and tracking the harvests a lot more closely). But he also made the point of covering other things, because Ethiopia is not just about famine, even if that's the lasting image in the West. (And every time he said "I've been coming here for nearly 40 years, since 1973" it made me wince just a little bit coz somehow the year before my birth is not that long ago in my head ... ). The Kenyan bit actually talked mostly about mobile phones and how they're transforming life in Africa. The obvious things like being able to summon the doctor to a remote area, thus saving lives, but also they're used to transfer money around and make it a lot easier for your average Kenyan to do business.
(And I should've written this up yesterday when I'd've remembered more details, but completely forgot to do anything about LJ, very bad of me!)