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Starkey Rising

Watched one of the David Starkey programmes on the monarchy, partly because it's about a point in history I didn't study in depth, William and Mary and Anne...I thought I could use the learning discipline. Just couldn't connect. Watching, trying to concentrate, I realised why.

David Starkey can't present - that's no insult, it is clearly not his job - but whoever is directing has decided to make up for it by ordering him to walk, walk, walk endlessly, so that if he stands still, it's like an exclamation mark. And it wouldn't be so bad if his was a normal walk, but he does this weird looming tip-toe, that makes it look as though he's creeping forwards in the hope of falling on top of you. He walks, the camera tracks. Sometimes the camera moves towards him. Sometimes it backs off in a hurry, like the camera's thinking keep him awayyyyyyy! But then it's as though someone slapped the crew, told them to remember their paycheque and hold the line. Whatever happens he always returns and approaches ominously with his hands clenched by his sides like a cross between Bilbo Baggins and Hannibal Lecter. Usually the camera crouches below his eye level but at one moment the angle was high above him, and the light hit his face in full on Hitchcockian-eyeballs-rolled-upwards style. I nearly jumped out of my chair, expecting him to step out of the TV and demand fava beans with chianti.

And the thing about this is, once noticed,I couldn't unsee it. I was hypnotised. Even salacious poems, Queen Anne's possible lesbianism and portraits showing the universal cocked eyebrow of John Churchill (not a bad looking man - how come so many of his descendants look like fish?) couldn't pull me in. I know it's not Starkey's fault, but thank god he wasn't my teacher. I'd never have got past history being One In The Eye for Harold.



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