Monday, October 06, 2008

Andrew Martin on BBC4

Andrew Martin who writes the Jim Stringer railway series set in the early part of the twentieth century is presenting a programme on BBC4, Between the Lines: Railways in Fiction and Film:

Novelist Andrew Martin presents a documentary examining how the train and the railways came to shape the work of writers and film-makers.

At the beginning of the railway age, locomotives were seen as frightening and unnatural - Wordsworth decried the destruction of the countryside, while Dickens wrote about locomotives as murderous brutes, bent on the destruction of mere humans.

Martin traces how trains gradually began to be accepted - Holmes and Watson were frequent passengers - until by the time of The Railway Children they were something to be loved, a symbol of innocence and Englishness. He shows how trains made for unforgettable cinema in The 39 Steps and Brief Encounter, and how when the railways fell out of favour after the 1950s, their plight was highlighted in the films of John Betjeman.

Finally, Martin asks whether, in the 21st century, Britain's railways can still stir and inspire artists.

The first showing is 9pm Thursday evening but there are several repeats and presumably iplayer if you don't get BBC4.

I've also discovered an interview with Andrew Martin on his publisher, Faber & Faber's site.


Anonymous said...

At the time of the Beeching cuts, it was rumoured that holiday destinations suffered cuts disproportionate to their traffic for the reason that much of their traffic was return journeys, on tickets paid for at the station of origin, rather than destination. Was this true at the time? If so, why has more not been made of it since?

Anonymous said...

This was a superb piece of Telly. Martin hits the important thing on the nail - for the railways to move into the ascendant, we need to want to travel by rail.

I loved this assemblage of footage, comment and vision. It was very perceptive and very enjoyable too. QED. ;-D