Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The Queen's corgis are dead / VIDEO: Queen Elizabeth and Her Royal Corgis | Country Living

The Queen's corgis are dead: long live the 'dorgis'
Willow’s death marks first time the monarch has not owned a corgi since the second world war

Martin Belam and agencies
Wed 18 Apr 2018 11.24 BST Last modified on Wed 18 Apr 2018 11.39 BST

The Queen’s last remaining corgi has died, it has been reported. Willow, who was almost 15, was put down after suffering from cancer, making it the first time the monarch has not owned a corgi since the end of the second world war.

Willow was the 14th generation descended from Susan, a corgi gifted to the then Princess Elizabeth on her 18th birthday in 1944. The Queen has owned more than 30 dogs of the breed during her reign.

It was reported in 2015 that the Queen had stopped breeding corgis because she did not want to leave any behind after she died.

She still has two dogs, Vulcan and Candy, which are informally known as “dorgis” – a cross-breed between a dachshund and a corgi introduced to the royal household when Princess Margaret’s dachshund Pipkin mated with one of the Queen’s dogs.

Vulcan and Candy appeared alongside Willow on the front cover of Vanity Fair in 2016, shot by Annie Leibovitz to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Willow was the last surviving corgi to have appeared alongside the Queen and the actor Daniel Craig in the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony James Bond sketch. Willow, Monty and Holly had greeted the secret agent as he arrived at the palace to accept a mission from the Queen.
The dogs ran down the stairs, performed tummy rolls and then stood as a helicopter took off for the Olympic stadium, carrying Bond and a stunt double of the Queen. Monty died a couple of months after the sketch was filmed, and Holly was put down in 2016.

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on Willow’s death, saying it is a private matter.

The Queen has been very fond of corgis since she was a small child, having fallen in love with the corgis owned by the children of the Marquess of Bath. King George VI brought home Dookie in 1933. A photograph from George VI's photo album shows a ten-year-old Elizabeth with Dookie at Balmoral. Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret would feed Dookie by hand from a dish held by a footman. The other early favourite corgi during the same time was Jane.

Elizabeth II's mother, at that time Queen Elizabeth, introduced a disciplined regimen for the dogs; each was to have its own wicker basket, raised above the floor to avoid drafts. Meals were served for each dog in its own dish, the diet approved by veterinary experts with no tidbits from the royal table. A proprietary brand of meat dog biscuits was served in the morning, while the late afternoon meal consisted of dog meal with gravy. Extra biscuits were handed out for celebrations and rewards.

Crackers (24 December 1939, Windsor – November, 1953) was one of the Queen Mother's corgis, and nearly a constant companion; he retired with the Queen Mother to the Castle of Mey in Scotland. In 1944, Elizabeth was given Susan as a gift on her 18th birthday. Susan accompanied Elizabeth on her honeymoon in 1947. The corgis owned by the Queen are descended from Susan. Rozavel Sue, daughter of Rozavel Lucky Strike, an international champion, was one of the Queen's corgis in the early 1950s.

The Queen has owned over thirty corgis since her accession to the thrones of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms in 1952.

The Queen's fondness for corgis and horses is known even in places such as Grand Cayman; when Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited the island in 1983, government officials gave her black coral sculptures of a corgi and a horse as a gift, both made by Bernard Passman.

Sugar was the nursery pet of Prince Charles and Princess Anne. In 1955, her pups, Whisky and Sherry, were surprise Christmas gifts from the Queen to the Prince and Princess. Pictured with the royal family, the corgi Sugar made the cover of The Australian Women's Weekly on 10 June 1959. Sugar's twin, Honey, belonged to the Queen Mother; Honey took midday runs with Johnny and Pippin, Princess Margaret's corgis, while the Princess lived in Buckingham Palace. Heather was born in 1962 and became one of the Queen's favourites. Heather was the mother of Tiny, Bushy, and Foxy; Foxy gave birth to Brush in 1969.

The corgis enjoy a privileged life in Buckingham Palace. They reside in the Corgi Room, and continue to sleep in elevated wicker baskets. The Queen tends to the corgis in her kennel herself. She also chooses the sires of litters that are bred in her kennel. The corgis have an extensive menu at the palace which includes fresh rabbit and beef, served by a gourmet chef. At Christmas, the Queen makes stockings for pets full of toys and delicacies such as biscuits. In 1999, one of Queen Elizabeth's royal footmen was demoted from Buckingham Palace for his "party trick of pouring booze into the corgis' food and water" and watching them "staggering about" with relish.

In 2007, the Queen was noted to have five corgis, Monty, Emma, Linnet, Willow, and Holly; five cocker spaniels, Bisto, Oxo, Flash, Spick, and Span; and four "dorgis" (dachshund-corgi crossbreeds), Cider, Berry, Vulcan, and Candy. In 2012, Queen Elizabeth II's corgis Monty, Willow, and Holly appeared during the brief James Bond sketch when Daniel Craig arrived at Buckingham Palace for a mission to take the queen to the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Monty, who had previously belonged to the Queen Mother, and one of her "Dorgis" died in September 2012. Monty had been named for the horse whisperer and friend of the queen, Monty Roberts. As of November 2012, it was reported that Elizabeth owns two corgis, Willow and Holly, and two Dorgis, Candy and Vulcan. It was reported in July 2015 that the Queen has stopped breeding corgis as she does not wish any to survive her in the event of her death. Monty Roberts had urged Elizabeth to breed more corgis in 2012 but she had told him that she "didn't want to leave any young dog behind" and wanted to put an end to the practice.

The dogs have traditionally been buried at the royal residence, Sandringham estate in Norfolk, at which they died. The graveyard was first used by Queen Victoria when her Collie, Noble, died in 1887. In 1959, the Queen used it to bury Susan, creating a cemetery for her pets.However, Monty was buried in Balmoral estate.

On several occasions, the Queen or her staff have been injured by the corgis. In 1954, the Royal Clockwinder, Leonard Hubbard, was bitten by Susan upon entering the nursery at the Royal Lodge, Windsor. Later in the same year, one of the Queen Mother's corgis bit a policeman on guard duty in London.

In 1968, Peter Doig called for the royal staff to put up a "Beware of the dog" sign at Balmoral after one of the corgis bit the postman. In February 1989, it was reported that the royal family had hired an animal psychologist to tame the dogs after they developed a habit of nipping them and the staff. In March 1991, the Queen was bitten after trying to break up a fight between ten or so of her corgis. She had to have three stitches to her left hand. John Collins, the Queen Mother's chauffeur, had to have a tetanus injection after he also tried to intervene. In 2003, Pharos, a tenth-generation offspring of Susan, was put down after being mauled by Princess Anne's English bull terrier Dottie. Anne arrived at Sandringham to visit her mother for Christmas and the corgis rushed out of the front door as they arrived. It was reported that "Dottie went for Pharos, savaging the corgi's hind legs and breaking one in three places."

The royal corgis are known all across the world and are closely associated with the Queen. The corgis have had numerous items dedicated to them, in particular being the subject of many statues and works of art. Because of the Queen's fondness for the Welsh Corgi, an increased number of corgis were exhibited in the 1954 West Australian Canine Association's Royal Show.Queen Elizabeth II’s crown coin KM# 1135, made of copper nickel of size 33 mm, issued during her Golden Jubilee year, shows the Queen with a corgi.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Remembering The King Who Invented Ballet, BBC4 / VIDEO: BBC The King Who Invented Ballet

The King Who Invented Ballet, BBC Four
David Bintley takes a look at Louis XIV's impact on classical dance
September 2015 marks the 300th anniversary of the death of King Louis XIV of France and this documentary looks at how Louis XIV not only had a personal passion and talent for dance, but supported and promoted key innovations, like the invention of dance notation and the founding of the world's first ballet school, that would lay the foundations for classical ballet to develop.
Presented by David Bintley, choreographer and director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the documentary charts how Louis encouraged the early evolution of ballet - from a male-dominated performance exclusive to the royal court to a professional artform for the public featuring the first female star ballerinas. The film also looks at the social context of dance during Louis XIV's reign, where ballets were used as propaganda and to be able to dance was an essential skill that anyone noble had to have.
As well as specially shot baroque dance sequences and groundbreaking recreations of 17th-century music, it also follows Bintley as he creates an exciting new one-act ballet inspired by Louis XIV. Danced by 15 members of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, The King Dances features an original score by composer Stephen Montague, designs by Katrina Lindsay and lighting by Peter Mumford and receives its world premiere on television directly after the documentary.

Louis XIV, the King of France from 1643 to 1715, was a ballet enthusiast from a young age. In fact his birth was celebrated with the Ballet de la Felicite in 1639. As a young boy, he was strongly supported and encouraged by the court, particularly by Italian-born Cardinal Mazarin, to take part in the ballets. He made his debut at age 13 in the "Ballet de Cassandre" in 1651. Two years later in 1653, the teenage king starred as Apollo, the sun god, in The Ballet of the Night or in French, Le Ballet de la Nuit. His influence on the art form and its influence on him became apparent. His fancy golden costume was not soon forgotten, and his famous performance led to his nickname, the Sun King. In the ballet, he banishes the night terrors as he rise as sun at dawn. His courtiers were forced to worship him like a god through choreography. They were made clear of the glory of King Louis XIV and that he had absolute authority both on and off the dance floor. The ballets that young King Louis performed in were very different from ballets performed today. The form of entertainment was actually called ballets d’entrées. This refers to the small divisions, or “entries,” that the ballets were broken up into. For example, Le Ballet de la Nuit, comprised over forty of such entries, which were divided into four vigils or parts. The whole spectacle lasted 12 hours.

Throughout his reign, Louis XIV worked with many influential people in his court dances. He worked alongside poet Isaac de Benserade, as well as designers Torelli, Vigarani and Henry de Gissey, which made fashion and dance closely interlinked. Possibly his greatest contribution to the French court was bringing composer/dancer Jean-Baptiste Lully. Louis supported and encouraged performances in his court as well as the development of ballet throughout France. Louis XIV was trained by Pierre Beauchamp. The King demonstrated his belief in strong technique when he founded the Académie Royale de Danse in 1661 and made Beauchamp leading ballet master. King Louis XIV’s and France’s attempt to keep French ballet standards high was only encouraged further when in 1672 a dance school was attached to the Académie Royale de Musique. Led by Jean-Baptiste Lully, this dancing group is known today as The Paris Opera Ballet.

The king was very exacting in his behavior towards his dancing. In fact, he made it a daily practice to have a ballet lesson every day after his morning riding lesson. As the French people watched and took note of what their leader was doing, dancing became an essential accomplishment for every gentleman. Clearly ballet became a way of life for those who were around King Louis XIV. If one looked at the culture of seventeenth-century France, one saw a reflection of an organized ballet that was choreographed beautifully, costumed appropriately, and performed with perfect precision.[according to whom?] Louis XIV retired from ballet in 1670.

Jean-Baptiste Lully
Perhaps one of the most influential men on ballet during the seventeenth century was Jean Baptiste Lully. Lully was born in Italy, but moved to France where he quickly became a favorite of Louis XIV and performed alongside the king in many ballets until the king’s retirement from dance in 1670. He moved from dancer for the court ballets to a composer of such music used in the courts. By the time he was thirty, Lully was completely in charge of all the musical activities in the French courts. Lully was responsible for enlivening the rather slow stately dances of the court ballets.[3] He decided to put female dancers on stage and was also director of the Académie Royale de Musique. This company's dance school still exists today as part of the Paris Opera Ballet. Since dancers appeared in the very first performances the Opera put on, the Paris Opera Ballet is considered the world’s oldest ballet company. When Lully died in 1687 from a gangrenous abscess on the foot which developed after he stuck himself with the long staff he used for conducting, France lost one of the most influential conductors and composers of the seventeenth century. However, Lully did not work alone. In fact, he often worked in collaboration with two other men that were equally influential to ballet and the French culture: Pierre Beauchamps and Molière.

Pierre Beauchamps
Beauchamps was a ballet-master who was deeply involved with the creation of courtly ballets in the 1650s and 1660s.However, Beauchamps began his career as the personal teacher to Louis XIV. Beauchamps is also credited with coming up with the five fundamental foot positions from which all balletic movements move through. Beauchamps techniques were taught throughout France in secondary schools as well as by private teachers.[5] Contemporary dancers would astonish Beauchamps at their ability to have 180-degree turnout. Beauchamps dancers wore high-heeled shoes and bulky costumes which made turnout difficult and slight. One of the first things that Lully and Beauchamps worked together on was Les Fêtes de l’Amour et de Bacchus, which they called opéra-ballet. The opéra-ballet is a form of lyric theatre in which singing and dancing were presented as equal partners in lavish and spectacular stagings. The Les Fêtes de l’Amour et de Bacchus, one of their first and most famous collaborations, consisted of excerpts from court ballets linked by new entrées stages by Beauchamps. Customarily, King Louis and courtiers danced in the court ballets; however, in this new form of entertainment, the opéra-ballet, all of the dancers were professionals. Beauchamps not only collaborated with Lully, but he also had the great privilege to partner with Molière during his lifetime.

Beauchamps also originated the Beauchamp-Feuillet notation, which provided detailed indications of the tract of a dance and the related footwork. Starting in 1700, hundreds of social and theatrical dances were recorded and widely published in this form. Although this has been superseded in modern times by even more expressive notations, the notation is sufficiently detailed that, along with contemporary dancing manuals, these dances can be reconstructed today.

Molière was a well-known comedic playwright during that time period. He and Beauchamps collaborated for the first time in 1661, which resulted in the invention of comédie-ballet. His invention of comedies-ballets was said to be an accident. He was invited to set both a play and court ballet in honor of Louis XIV, but was short of dancers and decided to combined the two productions together. This resulted in Les Facheux in 1661. This and the following comédie-ballets were considered the most important advance in baroque dance since the development of Renaissance geometric figures.[6] One of the most famous of these types of performances was Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, which is still performed today and continues to entertain audiences.[1] The idea behind a comédie-ballet was a combination of spoken scenes separated by balletic interludes; it is the roots for today’s musical theatre. Many of Molière's ballets were performed by Louis XIV. According to Susan Au, the king's farewell performance was Molière's Les Amants magnifiques in 1670. Not only were these types of performances popular in the courts, but they helped transition from courtiers being the dancers to using actors and professional dancers, soon to be known as ballerinas.[1] The comédie-ballets helped to bring understanding between the court and the commoners as the transition from court ballets to a more common place ballet occurred.

With Molière writing the dialogue and directing, Beauchamps choreographing the ballet interludes, and Lully composing the music and overseeing the coming together of all the dancers and actors, these three giants of men worked together to create many beautiful pieces of art for King Louis XIV.

Ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th centuries before it had spread from Italy to France by an Italian aristocrat, Catherine de' Medici, who became Queen of France. In France, ballet developed even further under her aristocratic influence. The dancers in these early court ballets were mostly noble amateurs. Ballets in this period were lengthy and elaborate and often served a political purpose. The monarch displayed the country's wealth through the elaborate performances' power and magnificence. Ornamented costumes were meant to impress viewers, but they restricted performers' freedom of movement.

The ballets were performed in large chambers with viewers on three sides. The implementation of the proscenium arch from 1618 on distanced performers from audience members, who could then better view and appreciate the technical feats of the professional dancers in the productions.

French court ballet reached its height under the reign of King Louis XIV. Known as the Sun King, Louis symbolized the brilliance and splendor of France. Influenced by his eager participation in court ballets since early childhood, Louis founded the Académie Royale de Danse (Royal Dance Academy) in 1661 to establish standards and certify dance instructors. In 1672, Louis XIV made Jean-Baptiste Lully the director of the Académie Royale de Musique (Paris Opera) from which the first professional ballet company, the Paris Opera Ballet, arose. Lully is considered the most important composer of music for ballets de cour and instrumental to the development of the form. Pierre Beauchamp served as Lully's ballet-master, the most important position of artistic authority and power for the companies during this century. Together their partnership would drastically influence the development of ballet, as evidenced by the credit given to them for the creation of the five major positions of the feet. The years following the 1661 creation of the Académie Royale de Danse shaped the future of ballet, as it became more evident to those in the French Nobility that there was a significant need for trained professional dancers. By 1681, the first of those who would now be called "ballerinas" took the stage following years of training at the Académie, influenced by the early beginnings of codified technique taught there.

The King Who Invented Ballet, BBC4
The programme is riveting, blending monstrous extravagance and social history
Martin Hoyle SEPTEMBER 11, 2015

Louis XIV may not have created ballet, admits David Bintley of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, but he was ballet’s first icon, as The King Who Invented Ballet (Sunday, BBC4 8pm) explains. Louis loved to dance, and his nickname “le Roi Soleil” seemed assured when as a 14-year-old the monarch appeared at the climax of a 13-hour spectacle, dazzling in gold, representing the sun dispersing the night’s blackness.

Follow that. And he did, creating the Grand Siècle which saw France’s apogee, its acknowledged greatness — but also bankruptcy, a legacy that would destroy his descendants.

Other creations included the Académie Royale de Danse and the school of the Ballet de l’Opéra where students still bow and curtsy to adults by royal decree.

The king gave up dancing after 75 roles in court spectacles but his influence continued and ballet spread to public theatres, with women also taking part. Above all, Louis established a style of grace and nobility, epitomised by the famous portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud in which the king is in fourth position, one leg forward, toes turned out.

Bintley was starstruck by Louis as a boy and his film combines history, dance, spectacle — a beautiful book of costume designs for his famous 13-hour allegory shows werewolves, an anthropomorphic chessboard, fantastics and grotesques — and music: years of research and informed guesswork are used to recreate the original orchestration for a recording. Locations include Versailles, Paris and Birmingham, where Bintley prepares his new ballet, The King Dances, inspired by Louis’ apotheosis as Sun King.

The programme is riveting, blending as it does politics and culture, monstrous extravagance and social history. It leads into a complete performance of Bintley’s ballet, whose premiere was greeted with a mixed reception in June. But some aspects — lighting ranging from Stygian to dazzling; Stephen Montague’s score easily combining baroque and modern — work especially well on TV.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Servants . Life Below Stairs. VIDEO:The Autenticity of Gosford Park

Servant tourism: how TV made us fetishise 'below stairs' culture
British stately homes and hotels are cashing in on our fascination with scullery maids and butlers. Is it because we love Sunday night drama, or do we just want to understand the jobs our ancestors did?

Harry Wallop
Mon 31 Oct 2016 17.25 GMT Last modified on Tue 19 Dec 2017 20.59 GMT

ITV’s big autumn hit Victoria featured an impossibly pretty Queen Vic, a brooding Albert and plenty of gorgeous sets and costumes. But unlike most other depictions of royalty on screen – including Peter Morgan’s Elizabeth II spectacular The Crown, which launches on Netflix this week – below stairs in Victoria featured as heavily as the political machinations in the drawing room.

Critics, most of whom lauded the show, raised eyebrows at the love-in between the monarch and her minions. One said it “felt more obligatory than it did organic”.

Daisy Goodwin, the creator of the show, insists the servants’ quarters were not added to keep focus groups or producers happy. “It was entirely my decision to add a below-stairs plot,” she says. “I keep hearing people say that the ITV executives forced me into it. Not at all. In fact, I had to slightly fight to keep the servants, because their storylines kept being cut back. I thought from the beginning that you need to have a counterpoint to what is going on upstairs.”

The accusations are understandable. Downton Abbey, which gave as much weight to the butlers, footmen and maids as to the aristocrats they served, was one of this decade’s biggest hit, both in the UK and the US.

A bit of spice behind the green baize door, mixed with some gentle class tension, appears to be a foolproof formula for TV gold, and one that stretches back to the early 1970s with ITV’s .

Yet the trend for fetishising servant culture has spread beyond the small screen; the National Trust and English Heritage – both of which reported record visitor numbers last year – are investing heavily in highlighting the servants’ quarters in many of their properties, while the gift shops increasingly reflect our fascination with domestic service over aristocratic lifestyles.

Visit Blenheim Palace, Sir John Vanbrugh’s masterpiece in the Cotswolds, and you can pick up a wide selection from the Below Stairs product range, including the butler’s scented candle with notes of cedarwood, frankincense and citrus. It has the aroma, the box explains, of “waxed wooden floors and a freshly laid fire in the butler’s pantry”. If that doesn’t take your fancy, there’s a House Maid’s lampshade brush, or perhaps the Valet’s clothes brush made from scented pearwood and is “suitable for cashmere”.

This autumn, our servant obsession appears to have moved up another gear. The Sir John Soane Museum in London opened a Below Stairs exhibition in September, featuring artwork created by modern designers as a response to the museum’s recently restored Regency kitchens.

The Pig at Combe, a new boutique hotel in Devon, has just opened a private dining room for 14 people in the original Georgian kitchen, which features a range, cast-iron pans hanging from the wall and flagstones on the floor. The hotel pitches the room as a “below-stairs experience” featuring Mrs Beeton’s recipes – though you would struggle to find quinoa, one of the ingredients on the menu, in her guide to household management.

Daisy Goodwin says she is not surprised consumers want to explore life below stairs. “There’s a couple of things going on. There is a revisionist view of history; it’s political correctness, possibly,” she says. “But there is also people’s genuine interest. I am always obsessed with the smell of the past. Nothing takes you faster back to the 19th century than seeing how hard it was to do your laundry, or how women had to deal with their periods.”

There is another reason why the historical pendulum has swung from the drawing room to the scullery: consumers are statistically more likely to have domestic servants than great landlords in their ancestry. At a peak before the first world war, there were an estimated 1.5 million people in domestic service in Britain, compared with 560 members of the House of Lords – and we are more aware than ever, thanks to the glut of genealogy websites and historical records online, which category we fall into.

This is certainly true for the visitors at Audley End, a fabulous Jacobean property in Essex, owned and run by English Heritage. Here you can admire a Holbein, a Hilliard miniature or a Canaletto, as well as the Robert Adam library in the main house. But the bigger crowds can be found in the servants’ wing, which includes a laundry, where children are allowed to turn the mangle, and a kitchen, from where the smell of bread is emanating and on the day I visit “Mrs Crocombe” issuing orders and criticising “Sylvia”, the second kitchen maid, for her slow apple peeling. Of course, both are actors. There are five in the house, all playing servants from the year 1881 and refusing to come out of character.

Tess Askew, 80, is visiting as part of the group from the Swanton Morley WI in Norfolk and is trying to engage Mrs Crocombe in a discussion about a microwave. The cook, in turn, pretends to be baffled about this “modern appliance” – an act that tickles the tourists.

Askew says the appeal of touring the old laundry and kitchens is partly seeing the lovely shelves of copper pots and jelly moulds, and partly “being housewives – we’re interested in how they used to do it”.

“There is a retro-chic about housework,” says Lucy Lethbridge, the historian and author of Servants: A Downstairs View of 20th-Century Britain, “usually among people who don’t have to do it very much. If you really have to clean, you don’t have much sentimentality about using lemon juice on your windows, or making your own beeswax polish.”

Many of the visitors at Audley End have researched their own family histories. Don Crouch, 58, a retired civil servant from St Albans, who is visiting with his wife and a friend, says: “A lot of people look back at their ancestors and have more connection with downstairs than upstairs life. Even fairly wealthy middle-class people are not well heeled enough to relate to upstairs life.”

His wife, Judith, has researched her family back to the 1780s and discovered her ancestors were drovers, labourers and sawyers. “I do find the class thing very interesting. I come from working-class stock. Although I maybe have gone up a little bit in the world, this,” she says, pointing to Mrs Crocombe, “is more what I would have experienced if I had been around then.” She works for the V&A, but is admiring the fine porcelain pie dishes.

Some historians, however, worry that though the reconstructions of servants’ lives here and at other stately homes are well researched, they can mislead modern audiences.

Dr Lucy Delap, a Cambridge lecturer whose specialism is domestic service, says that in the great houses – be they the Buckingham Palace of ITV’s Victoria or the real-life Audley End – the servants “were quite well paid, and their conditions were quite easy when compared to the majority of servants working in one- and two-person households. They didn’t have a green baize door and time off in the afternoon, and didn’t have rustic-looking wheelbarrows to move apples around in.”

Delap is a fan of Audley End and other heritage days where you can pick up the dolly or iron and feel the weight of a pre-electric domestic appliance, but too often people fail to realise how back-breaking the work was. “Being a servant was all about getting up early, working until midnight and getting chilblains,” says Delap. “People don’t think of it in those terms, because of the likes of Downton and Victoria. These romantic depictions of domestic service really efface the idea that this is a site of precarious, exploitative labour.”

I ask Askew if, born a century earlier, she would prefer to have been a member of the domestic staff or one of the Braybrookes, the aristocratic family who owned Audley End. “I’d like to think I’d be down here with what was really going on. I wouldn’t like to be up there with people curtseying to me. I like this kind of life,” she says.Some historians suggest below-stairs life is possibly back in fashion because it represents a golden era compared with today’s uncertainties. Lethbridge says: “It is an age, seen through rose-tinted spectacles, when we imagine the classes mixed in a paternalistic, co-dependent pyramid. The leisured class were at the top, supported by the labour of those at the bottom, who were in turn looked after. Maybe there is something in that highly regulated certainty that is attractive to us now.”

Most people do not, of course, connect the domestic servants of Victoria or Downton with today’s equivalent: the eastern European cleaner with no paid holidays, or the Deliveroo-rider handing over your evening meal. Or, for that matter, staff in large country houses – now often a hotel.

The most famous of these is Cliveden House, the Italianate pile owned by the Astor family and scene of legendary parties and the Profumo scandal. It is now owned by the National Trust but leased to one of Britain’s smartest hotels, which employs 150 staff to service the 48 rooms. If you book The Butler Did It break – which starts at £350 per night, per person – you can enjoy a private tour with the house butler, 53-year-old Michael Chaloner. Disappointingly, he stopped wearing tails a few years ago, but he is full of stories of famous guests, including Charlie Chaplin and Michael Jackson, as he shows you around the bits of the house that are usually off limits. This includes the amazing view from the roof, the Lady Astor suite (yours for £1,200 a night) and the below-stairs area.

Here, the historic bells used to summon staff are mere decoration. Most of the service corridors and former servants’ sitting rooms are turned over to the operations of a fully functioning modern hotel, with waiters and chefs scurrying past the stacks of firewood used in the great hall, and unused foldaway beds.

“A lot of the Americans don’t like seeing this bit,” Chaloner says. “But a lot of Brits do.” Below stairs, as Lethbridge points out, is so often a reminder of class, something “rotted deeply into our national psyche and our sense of ourselves”.

Chaloner adds: “I think people care about the staff a little bit more nowadays. When I first came here in the early 90s, people came here for their £1,500 lunches, the fattest cigars, and the most expensive brandies. They didn’t care two hoots about the people serving them. But now people are interested in the people who work in the hotel. The staff are part of the deal.”

In the lobby of the hotel, there is a small selection of merchandise on sale, including the DVD of Scandal, the film of the Profumo affair; The Lady’s Maid: My Life in Service by Rosina Harrison, a former maid of Nancy Astor; and scented candles. I tell him I’m disappointed there isn’t a butler version.

“What would it smell of? Boiled cabbage, old socks and body odour?” he laughs. “I am under no illusions about how grim life was below stairs back then.”

 Being a servant was all about getting up early, working until midnight and getting chilblains

• This article was amended on 1 November 2016. An earlier version said the original 1970s series of Upstairs Downstairs was broadcast by the BBC. It was made by LWT and shown on ITV.

 Servants: the True Story of Life Below Stairs, BBC Two, review
Michael Pilgrim reviews Servants: the True Story of Life Below Stairs, Dr Pamela Cox' new BBC Two series exploring the lives of servants.
4 out of 5 stars
By Michael Pilgrim10:00PM BST 28 Sep 2012

Dr Pamela Cox explores the secret history of servants at the beginning of the 20th Century for her new BBC Two series, Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs.

Dr Pamela Cox explores the secret history of servants at the beginning of the 20th Century for her new BBC Two series, Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs. Photo: BBC
The prodigious 19th-century letter writer Jane Carlyle had a frightful time with her servants. She went through 34 in 32 years. Hardly surprising since they were that breed of hired help known as the maid of all work, the sole domestic in a middle-class household.

One such, Mary, had the misfortune to give birth in a back room of Jane’s Chelsea house. Feet away, Jane’s husband Thomas Carlyle was busy taking after-dinner tea, the great essayist seemingly unperturbed.

This was not good. As Servants: the True Story of Life Below Stairs (BBC Two) explained, Mrs Carlyle was seen to have failed to keep her employee on the path to righteousness. There was no choice. Mary had to go.

Servants was presented by the academic Dr Pamela Cox. Given that Cox’s grandmothers were in service and that she teaches at Essex – a university not renowned for its right-leaning views – one might have expected a rant. Certainly, the picture painted was far from the gentle Farrow & Ball ambience of Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey, but it was not without affection.

Cox started her three-parter at Erddig, North Wales. In the 19th century, the estate employed 45 staff labouring for 17 hours a day. They had to shift three tons of coal a week, enough for 51 fireplaces and five ovens. Six hundred items of clothing were laundered a week and 60 pairs of boots polished daily. A laundry maid could be paid as little as £700 a year – at today’s prices.

The work was meticulous, repetitive and exhausting. Which makes you think that they have a secret underground room at Downton full of whirring German white goods doing all the work. Little else explains why the staff never look tired or sweaty.

None the less, Erdigg represented the paternalistic end of domestic service. Its owners hung what were known as loyalty portraits of their staff in a hall. The photos were charming, but the typed poems pasted beside them sounded more the sort of thing you’d write about a beloved puppy, than about the people who starched your shirt and blacked your footwear.

Though enlightened enough to acknowledge the staff, the family were witheringly dismissive of those who displeased them, as the clunky verses for Mrs Hale, a ladies maid, made clear: “Black was her dress, her face austere, and when she for Brighton did leave, no one here a sigh did heave.” Not what you’d call a positive reference for a future master, even if it does rhyme.

It wasn’t just a question of us and them. Servants themselves were graded into a complex hierarchy, governed by arcane rules, presided over by the butler, cook and housekeeper, the last a portly, dragonish figure who only had to jangle her keys to evoke fear in low-ranking hall boys.

The sense of benevolent orderliness, of people content in their allotted station, is, of course, a cosy Victorian fabrication, just like the conventions of Christmas. It is a myth that even now bathes us in warm nostalgia and persuades us to buy National Trust tea-towels. Cox’s cheerful pursuit for her subject suggested she even enjoyed the myth a bit herself, despite better intentions.

 "Below Stairs" is a study of servant portraiture in Britain and is illustrated with works by Hogarth, Gainsborough and Stubbs. Continuing the examination of traditional domestic life explored in the films "Gosford Park" and "Remains of the Day", "Below Stairs" is also the subject of a BBC Four documentary. Featuring portraits of all ranks of servant the book illustrates the shifting organisation of households through the centuries, and the highly complex relationships between employers and employees. Traditionally, portraiture in Britain has concentrated on recording the upper classes and the celebrated. Instead, "Below Stairs" explores the representation of the servant, be it in a grand or modest household, in the country or in the town, at the royal courts or at colleges and clubs. This groundbreaking selection of paintings and photographs tells a fascinating story about power, class and human relationships spanning over 400 years of social and economic history.

Behind the green baize door
While 'upstart' butlers may make news, servants have largely been invisible in the history books. In art and fiction, however, they have long been an iconic presence, writes Alison Light

Alison Light
Sat 8 Nov 2003 01.30 GMT First published on Sat 8 Nov 2003 01.30 GMT

Down ill-lit corridors the servant scurries, disappearing into darkened chambers, hurrying back to the kitchens or the courtyards, a blur on the edge of vision. Servants form the greatest part of that already silent majority - the labouring poor - who have for so long lived in the twilight zone of historical record. In the servant's case, though, anonymity often went with the job.

In mid-to-late 19th-century Britain, when live-in service was at a peak, servants' labour was meant to be as unobtrusive as possible. Relegated to the basements and the attics, using separate entrances and staircases (their activities muffled and hidden behind the famous "green baize door"), they lived a parallel existence, shadowing the family members and anticipating their needs - meals appeared on the table, fires were found miraculously lit, beds warmed and covers turned back by an invisible hand.

In the grander households the lower servants were often unknown "above stairs". The writer Vita Sackville-West recalled that at Knole her mother was supplied with a list of first names from the housekeeper before she doled out seasonal gifts. More conveniently, servants were often hailed by their work titles such as "Cook" or "Boots", or, if their own names were considered too fancy, given more "suitable" ones: "Abigail", "Betty", "Mary Jane" were all in vogue at one time. Deportment and body language, the bowed head, the neatly folded hands, all prevented servants from "putting themselves forward", though few employers were like the Duke of Portland at Welbeck, who expected his staff to turn their faces to the wall if they encountered the family.

Few, that is, except for the royal family, some of whose archaic practices were revealed last week by Paul Burrell in his book A Royal Duty (including the Sunday task of ironing a £5 note for the Queen's church collection). Royal servants have long been a source of fascination because of their proximity to rulers who were otherwise remote. Such relationships often caused friction at court, as when Queen Victoria allowed her Hindustani teacher, or Munshi, the 24-year-old Abdul Karim, to take his meals with the royal household. The Windsors may expect a feudal level of fealty from their staff and, as the self-styled "keeper of Diana's secrets", Burrell is one in a long line of upstarts who has overstepped the mark. Yet the history of domestic service, even at its most mundane, suggests that it has always been a job like no other, involving unusual intimacies and frequently encouraging both employers and their charges to invest in a fantasy of friendship.

From medieval times, litigious servants have sought redress in the courts (legal records offer some of the earliest evidence of their lives). But historians have long found servants to be awkward customers. Their numbers alone make a history of service daunting (in 1900, there were still more people working in domestic service than in any other sector barring agriculture). Though they were legion, so much about servants was singular. They were legally seen as dependents but in principle were free to leave. Their hours of work, time off and wages were often unregulated and the perquisites, or "perks" of the job, such as the quality of their board and lodging, varied enormously. Working in comparative comfort behind closed doors, deferring to employers and perhaps silently envious of them, the figure of the servant represents all that is the opposite of the articulate, organised or collectively minded. Feminised, indoor and intimate, domestic service is usually excluded from more heroic accounts of the making of the English working classes.

Yet domestic service was not simply a throwback to a pre-industrial world. The ideal of service was the cornerstone of 19th-century life, informing the language and structure both of public institutions and family life. The Victorians elevated dependence into a moral and social good. The idea of serving others (perhaps in the new civil "service" or as a "servant" of a bank or indeed, in the "services") was strengthened indoors by an evangelical Christianity. Domestic servants drew satisfaction and self-respect from their devotion to duty, though few were so inspired as Hannah Cullwick, Arthur Munby's maid and scullion in the 1860s. Up to her elbows in grease and muck, she welcomed the filthiest chores, as her diaries record, partly as a test of her humility and of her faith in a salvation achieved by hard work. But "being drest rough & looking nobody", also gave her the freedom to "go anywhere and not be wonder'd at".

Service could mean betterment, though rarely did a servant rise far above her station (Cullwick eventually married her master but she obstinately resisted playing the lady). In Merlin Waterson's The Servants Hall (1980), which describes 250 years of domestic history at Erddig, the Yorke family's modest country house on the Welsh marches, we learn that Harriet Rogers preferred to be a lady's maid and housekeeper than remain at home on an isolated farm. The Yorkes encouraged her reading and broadened her horizons but she remained single all her life and quietly put away her numerous Valentine cards. Servants made choices, though not in circumstances of their own choosing. If we fail to recognise this, they remain typecast as trouble makers or arch conservatives, as rogues or dupes or victims.

Servants haunt the 18th- and 19th-century domestic novel, conjuring up the fears and fantasies of their employers. As Daniel Defoe's diatribe of 1724, "The Great Law of Subordination Consider'd", testified, the unruly servant was a sorcerer's apprentice who could send not just the kitchen but the whole social order spiralling into anarchy. In Jane Austen's Mansfield Park (1814), when Fanny Price returns home to Portsmouth from her posh relatives, her first sight is of Rebecca, "a trollopy looking maid" who is "never where she ought to be". Rebecca's sluttish ways speak volumes about the moral impropriety of the family. Like Samuel Richardson's Pamela before her, Fanny is herself a servant morally worthy of a better station in life (Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre is one of her descendants). Her social climbing will reform but not threaten the upper classes. She looks forward to generations of middle-class mistresses whose superiority depends on keeping others firmly in their place.

It's almost impossible for us to see service except through an optic of class antagonism or exploitation. Yet the attachments between servants and their employers were often complex. No man, as they say, is a hero to his valet - certainly not Charles Darwin, whose butler, Joseph Parslow, douched and dried him everyday for four months, while Darwin tried hydropathy for his chronic diarrhoea and nausea. Parslow, who numbered among his many tasks donning leather gaiters to gather flower spikes from ditches or ferrying plant specimens back from Kew Gardens, often cradled Darwin like a baby in his arms. Thomas and Jane Carlyle got through servants at a rate of knots (one was dismissed by him as a "mutinous Irish savage"). Prostrated by headache, Jane was often comforted by another maid-of-all-work, Helen Mitchell, who rubbed her cheek with her own and soothed her mistress with companionable tears.

Servants might be officially invisible but they were central as providers, especially when their employers were at their most needy. The English upper classes have frequently recalled cold childhoods warmed only by confederacies with the servants. Rudyard Kipling's first memories, in Something of Myself , were of his Portuguese ayah and the Hindu bearer, Meeta, who held his hand and eased his fear of the dark. "Father and Mother" were associated with painful partings. Service, in other words, has always been an emotional as well as an economic territory. The valet, the housekeeper and the girl who emptied the chamberpots all knew this as they stepped over the threshold of someone else's house.

In most painting, as in literature, servants appear in supporting roles. But an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery - "Below Stairs: 400 Years of Servants' Portraits" - gives faces to some of those whom history has effaced. British art frequently followed the Italian convention in which a servant, a page or secretary, a horse or dog, might be included to enhance the stature of the principal subject. Literally so with Van Dyck's portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria painted in 1633; she was quite tiny but standing next to dwarf Jeffrey Hudson added several cubits to her height.

Servants were among the first commodities to be displayed, along with the fashionable silks and porcelain, in small-scale "conversation pieces", family portraits from the 1720s. There are also plenty of walk-on parts for servants in genre paintings: pretty dairymaids in tidy farmyards, grooms exhibited with prize hounds in sporting scenes, ruddy-faced, fleshy cooks amid the slaughtered meat. Only rarely does a tremor of personality disturb these still lives.

"Below Stairs" concentrates on individual portraits of servants that have survived thanks to their employers' affection or caprice. The majority are "loyalty" portraits, meant to be exemplary and instructive, testifying to the benevolence of the masters as much as to the virtues of their staff. Erddig's enlightened squires had individual, informal portraits painted of the whole household, from the lowly "spider-brushers" to the cook, coachmen and gardeners, often with humorous scrolls attached detailing their lives and work. Loyalty portraits were popular too with the university colleges, museums, banks, clubs, hotels and other institutions. Paintings elevated trusty employees to the status of a symbol.

In their accompanying catalogue, curators Giles Waterfield and Anne French rightly warn that such portraits are anomalous. Only large establishments were likely to commission costly pictures and most British servants worked for the ever-expanding middle classes in far humbler situations. Rather than the butler or the housekeeper, the typical domestic in the 19th-century home or lodging-house was the "maid-of-all-work" or "slavey", like Dickens's "Marchioness" in The Old Curiosity Shop , whose half-starved existence comically belies her inflated title. Usually a young girl, often straight from the workhouse, such general servants came cheap (until the 1940s the majority of Barnardo's girls went straight into other people's kitchens).

Life-size or full-length, looking you straight in the face, it's a shock to encounter sympathetic images of people so often caricatured, reduced to cartoon or grotesquerie. Artists aimed at more than mechanical likenesses, "mere face-painting", as William Hogarth dubbed it. Bored with their patrons, painters were sidetracked by the servants whose faces were free of cosmetics and whose figures were less inert than those hampered by the trappings of wealth. George Stubbs's portrait of Freeman, the Earl of Clarendon's gamekeeper, for instance, shown moving in for the kill, is a force in his own right. Elderly servants, unlike their employers, didn't need to be flattered: the woodcarver with his spotted neckerchief, the weary housekeeper and the messenger at the Bank of England are given all their blemishes and wrinkles.

Loyalty portraits frequently commemorate long service and nothing is dearer to the conservative imagination than the image of the old retainer. Yet at the great houses, where the rewards for long service were most enticing, the speed at which servants could be hired and fired was often breathtaking. Even at Erddig there were clear limits to liberality. Elizabeth Ratcliffe, a lady's maid in the 1760s, was a talented artist who could put her hand to a mezzotint as easily as to her mending, but after one of her successes her mistress wrote to her son vetoing further exploits lest "I shall have no service from her & make too fine a Lady of her, for so much say'd on that occasion that it rather puffs her up". There are almost no portraits of ladies' maids in British art. Since the maid often dressed in the mistress's cast-offs, her Ladyship was afraid, perhaps, of being upstaged.

In reality, though, most servants have always been comers and goers, migrants arriving in the city and hoping to send money home, moving on to marriage or a better place. Ultimately, the servant portrait is poignant because it's a contradiction in terms. Its subjects, who often in life couldn't call their souls their own, are proudly dressed in a little brief authority. But even the most amiable portrait of the servant is always a portrait of the master.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, photography took over the loyalty convention, with group portraits of uniformed servants, often displaying their badge of office - a broom, a saucepan or a garden fork - formally posed outside the house. Such photographs remind us that live-in service does not belong to the distant past (I have one such memento of my grandmother in her days as a skivvy). Servants' testimonies, like those in the sound archives at Essex University, are often full of bitterness and shame. In her autobiography, Below Stairs (1968), Margaret Powell remembers how deeply humiliated she felt when her mistress told her to hand newspapers to her on a silver salver: "Tears started to trickle down my cheeks; that someone could think you were so low that you couldn't even hand them anything out of your hands."

Between the wars, as other employment became available, women, and particularly the young, voted with their feet. The decline of live-in service revealed just how hopelessly dependent many employers were. In the 1920s, for instance, Lytton Strachey's sisters, Pippa, Marjorie and Pernel (the former dedicated to women's suffrage, the latter principal of Newnham), had to ask their younger relatives to turn on the oven on the servant's day off. Dependence was often a matter of pride rather than practical incompetence. Opening the front door was especially unthinkable since servants were the gatekeepers to the outside world. Well into old age, Siegfried Sassoon, in impoverished isolation at Heytesbury House, kept up a façade of grandeur by asking visitors to come by the servants' entrance.

Of course there were people who remained a lifetime in other people's families, who were unstinting and generous and who believed what they were doing was worthwhile. Julia and Leslie Stephen's cook, Sophie Farrell, who was passed around Bloomsbury circles for many years, went on signing herself "yours obediently" to "Miss Ginia" (Virginia Woolf) all her life. Others were snobs who missed their privileges and the kindness of their employers. Once the old models of rank and deference collapsed, lives foundered; Frank Lovell, for five years head footman at Erddig, made a new start as a chauffeur just before he joined up in 1914 but the war years left him adrift. Disappointed and unsettled, he drowned in 1934, leaving his wife and young son believing it to be suicide. Servants often found it hard to adjust to a more democratic world.

But so did their employers. Although socialists and feminists might campaign for the poor, plenty assumed that housework was beneath them or that others were more suited to it. Margaret Bondfield, minister of labour in 1931, annoyed fellow Labour party members by refusing out-of-work Lancashire mill girls unemployment benefit if they turned down domestic training. The feminist Vera Brittain, whose unconventional household was shared with her husband and Winifred Holtby, her friend, depended on the servants, Amy and Charles Burnett, for years. It didn't prevent Brittain from bemoaning the lot of "the creative woman perpetually at the mercy of the 'Fifth Column' below stairs". Writers and artists wanted uninterrupted time and their servants duly emancipated them. Grace Higgens, for instance, "the Angel of Charleston", made it possible for Vanessa Bell to be a painter, cooking and cleaning for her for more than 40 years. "Ludendorff Bell", as her son Quentin called her, kept up the Victorian habit, nonetheless, of starting every day by giving her orders to the cook, who stood waiting while her mistress sat at the breakfast table. For all the photographs and portraits Bell made of Grace, they could never be pictured side by side.

By the 1950s, few British women expected to "go into" service but that is hardly the end of the story. In the last decade or so the domestic-service economy - an army of cleaners, child-minders, nannies and au pairs - has been rapidly expanding (Allison Pearson's recent apologia for the career woman, I Don't Know How She Does It, goes guiltily over the old ground of the mistress victimised by a manipulative underling). In this country much of the cooking and cleaning is done by low-paid casual workers, often migrants, in private houses as well as in hotels, offices and schools. Racial assumptions, as well as class feelings - as Barbara Ehrenreich and others have argued - are fostered by this division of labour.

All of us begin our lives helpless in the hands of others and will probably end so. How we tolerate our inevitable dependence, especially upon those who feed and clean and care for us, or take away our waste, is not a private or domestic question but one that goes to the heart of our unequal society. We rely constantly on others to do our dirty work and what used to be called "the servant question" has not gone away. The figure of the servant takes us not only inside history but inside ourselves.

· "Below Stairs" is at the National Portrait Gallery, London WC2, until January 11. Alison Light is writing a book about Virginia Woolf's servants, to be published by Penguin.

 Servants' Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance (Below Stairs)
Margaret Powell

Margaret Powell's Below Stairs became a sensation among readers reveling in the luxury and subtle class warfare of Masterpiece Theatre's hit television series Downton Abbey. Now in the sequel Servants' Hall, Powell tells the true story of Rose, the under-parlourmaid to the Wardham Family at Redlands, who took a shocking step: She eloped with the family's only son, Mr. Gerald.

Going from rags to riches, Rose finds herself caught up in a maelstrom of gossip, incredulity and envy among her fellow servants. The reaction from upstairs was no better: Mr. Wardham, the master of the house, disdained the match so completely that he refused ever to have contact with the young couple again. Gerald and Rose marry, leave Redlands and Powell looks on with envy, even as the marriage hits on bumpy times: "To us in the servants' hall, it was just like a fairy tale . . . How I wished I was in her shoes."

Once again bringing that lost world to life, Margaret Powell trains her pen and her gimlet eye on her "betters" in this next chapter from a life spent in service. Servants' Hall is Margaret Powell at her best―a warm, funny and sometimes hilarious memoir of life at a time when wealthy families like ruled England.

What the Butler Saw: 250 Years of the Servant Problem
by E. S. Turner 
This is a lively foray into a world where a gentleman with £2,000 a year was betraying his class if he did not employ six females and five males; where a lady could go to the grave without ever having picked up a nightdress, carried her prayer bookor made a pot of tea. It is the story of the housekeeper and the butler, the cook, the lady's maid, the valet and the coachman. Their duties are described in detail, and the story is told of the strife and even pitched battles that ensued between servants and the served. Here is social history from a fascinating angle, packed with droll information lightly handled, with many a moral for our own times.
Servants: A Downstairs View of Twentieth-century Britain Paperback
by Lucy Lethbridge 
Servants: A Downstairs View of Twentieth-century Britain is the social history of the last century through the eyes of those who served. From the butler, the footman, the maid and the cook of 1900 to the au pairs, cleaners and childminders who took their place seventy years later, a previously unheard class offers a fresh perspective on a dramatic century. Here, the voices of servants and domestic staff, largely ignored by history, are at last brought to life: their daily household routines, attitudes towards their employers, and to each other, throw into sharp and intimate relief the period of feverish social change through which they lived.
Sweeping in its scope, extensively researched and brilliantly observed, Servants is an original and fascinating portrait of twentieth-century Britain; an authoritative history that will change and challenge the way we look at society.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Ordeal By Innocence 2018 / Trailer - BBC One

Ordeal by Innocence is a three part BBC drama that was first broadcast during April 2018. It is based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name and is the third English language filmed version to be broadcast. The drama stars Bill Nighy, Anna Chancellor, Alice Eve and Eleanor Tomlinson amongst others.
The show was originally intended to be broadcast as part of the BBC Christmas programming but was held back initially due to one of the actors being accused of sexual assault.

Set in 1956, the programme opens with the death of Rachel Argyll, a wealthy heiress who with her husband, Leo Argyll, have adopted five children as they cannot have their own. Initially, son Jack Argyll is accused and awaits trial in prison before he himself is killed at the hands of another prisoner. Eighteen months later and the family is gearing up for a wedding; Leo Argyll is due to marry the Argyll family's former secretary, Gwenda Vaughn, when a mysterious stranger arrives at the door claiming to have an alibi for Jack for the night of the murder. The stranger, Dr Calgary, is unaware that Jack is dead and has come back to help get Jack released from jail. Because the family has received many visits from fraudsters claiming to be Jack's alibi, Dr Calgary's testimony is coldly received, and he is told in no uncertain terms to leave the family alone.

Dr Calgary is then threatened by the other son, Mickey Argyll, but is courted by Philip Durrant, the disabled husband of Mary who sees Dr Calgary as a cash cow. Dr Calgary is awash with disbelief, but telephones Leo Argyll and tells him that his wife's murderer is still on the loose.

Differences to the novel
Just like many other novels and stories by Agatha Christie, Ordeal by Innocence is set in the West Country of England. This production shifted the location to Scotland and it was filmed in and around Inverkip.

The family name in the book is Argyle, whereas it is spelt Argyll in the programme (although the pronounciation is the same). The main suspect character, Jack, is called Jacko in the book  and he dies in prison from pneumonia, not by being beaten to death by another prisoner.

With regard to characters, Kirsten Lindstrom, the family's housekeeper, is a middle-aged Nordic woman in the novel—a detail that plays a key role in the mystery's solution; in the miniseries, she is turned into a Scottish woman in her thirties, who is one of Rachel's foundlings. Dr Calgary is played with hints of mental instability, whereas in the book his testimony is seen as reliable from the very beginning. Other characters, such as Gwenda Vaughan, Mary Durrant, and Hester Argyll, are portrayed much more negatively than they were in the novel: Gwenda is bossy and smug, Mary is deeply embittered, and Hester is a secret alcoholic.

Ordeal By Innocence review - crime saga seamlessly sifts truth from lies
5 / 5 stars    
Careful choreography is the backbone of this Agatha Christie adaptation, which features a uniformly brilliant cast

Lucy Mangan
Sun 1 Apr 2018 22.00 BST Last modified on Fri 6 Apr 2018 22.00 BST

A decanter to the skull. A gently spreading pool of blood beneath the body on the rug. The scream of a servant. A houseful of suspects assembles. We can only be watching an Agatha Christie.
If Holy Week and the advent of spring seems like an odd time to give viewers the secular, murdery treat that is a Christie adaptation – this time of her 1958 story Ordeal By Innocence – well, that’s because it is.

The three-part mystery was supposed to follow in the footsteps of writer Sarah Phelps’ last two immaculate reworkings, And Then There Were None in 2015 and Witness for the Prosecution in 2016, and be the centrepiece of the 2017 Christmas schedule.

When one of the actors involved, Ed Westwick, became the subject of multiple historical sexual assault allegations, the decision was taken not to broadcast Ordeal By Innocence and to reshoot with a new actor, Christian Cooke.

The whole phalanx of actors – including Anna Chancellor as wealthy philanthropist and collector of waifs and strays Rachel Argyll (soon to have her skull decanted by the decanter); Bill Nighy as her widower Leo (soon to remarry with his frightful secretary Gwenda – played by Alice Eve, who at the last moment was unable to join them from the US and was split-screened in later); Morven Christie as the screaming servant; and Anthony Boyle as the apparent wielder of the fatal crystalware – reassembled in January and redid 35 scenes, with Cooke playing the volatile Mickey Argyll, one of Rachel’s multitudinous now-adult orphan charges, in 12 days.

If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t – a few stray icy breaths showing as they attempt to recreate a July setting in a Scottish location midwinter notwithstanding – be able to tell. The whole thing knits together seamlessly. It grabs you from the opening scenes, as Rachel is dispatched and Jack, always the most delinquent of her adopted children, is convicted – thanks to his fingerprints in her blood – of her murder despite his protestations of innocence. He is killed in prison.

So far so good. But half an arch won’t stand. Where is the rest of the premise?

A year later, as the family gathers at the ancestral home for Leo and Gwenda’s wedding and some illuminating flashbacks, it arrives. A nervous young stranger called Dr Arthur Calgary (a fine and unexpectedly moving, in Agatha’s customarily affectless world, performance by Luke Treadaway) turns up with a suitcase and a claim that he can alibi Jack.

The game, to quote Arthur Conan Doyle – the other master of detective fiction without whom neither the libraries nor TV schedules of England would long survive – is afoot.

 Cast members (left to right) Luke Treadaway, Anna Chancellor, Bill Nighy and Morven Christie. Photograph: James Fisher/Joss Barratt/BBC/Mammoth Screen/ACL

Like Christie on one of her husband’s archeological digs, the next hour is spent sifting the mingled sands of truth and lies. Discrepancies in Arthur’s story are discovered to arise from self-protection, not fraudulence. Bitter divisions in the family (and eyebrow-raisingly strong bonds – yes, Mickey and adopted sister Tina, I’m looking at you) are gradually revealed – none deeper and more bitter than that between monstrous mother and children.

Rachel, it turns out via a combination of flashing glances, elliptical threats and above all, the simple sense of barely repressed fury rippling through every atom of Chancellor’s being, is A Piece of Work. We know not why – yet? – but she is the devil in disguise and has given just about everyone in Denouement Hall a reason to bump her off.

From now on, it’s just a matter of letting the danse macabre unfold. Phelps doesn’t get in the way of Christie’s careful choreography. However, she – and a uniformly brilliant cast that also boasts Matthew Goode as the supercilious Philip, who’s clearly an absolute shit (especially to his wife, cowed Argullian daughter Mary, played with brilliant brittleness by Eleanor Tomlinson), even before he was embittered by being paralysed in a drunken car accident – flesh out and strengthen Christie’s characters, whom she was frequently happy to leave as ciphers in the puzzle she was laying out to solve.

The latest adaptations, rich, dark, adult and drawing on a backdrop of postwar grief and instability, are a far cry from the sunny – still murderous, but sunny – uplands scattered with millet seed for Joan Hickson to peck at as Miss Marple or the light-filled art deco apartments in which the leetle grey cells of David Suchet’s Poirot could do their work.

The audience’s innocence has been too battered by the ordeals of the past few years, perhaps, for them to pass muster now. We get the Agatha Christie adaptations, we need, it seems – and, in the last three outings at least, better than we deserve.

Ordeal by Innocence, episode two review – Agatha Christie’s legacy is safe with this masterful BBC adaptation
Ed Cumming
9 APRIL 2018 • 7:44AM

As the second episode of Ordeal by Innocence (BBC One) began, two of the characters had ceased to be. Monstrous philanthropist Rachel Argyll (Anna Chancellor) had been fast-tracked upstairs. In prison, having been fitted up for the deed, her monstrous son Jack (Anthony Boyle) followed suit soon after.

It was a good start, but frankly, they deserved to die. When the mysterious Dr Arthur Calgary (Luke Treadaway) turned up at Argyll Towers claiming to have an alibi for Jack, we realised that each of the dramatis personae had a good reason to bump off the old girl. So far, so traditional.

Less expected was that each of the others, unwittingly, presented a good case as to why they deserved to be murdered, too. Everyone was so unlikeable.

There was Bill Nighy’s widower Leo, smirking round the mansion. Gwenda Vaughan (Alice Eve), the former secretary with an eye on the inheritance. We must not forget skulking housekeeper Kristen (Morven Christie). Christian Cooke as Rachel’s pointlessly angry son Mickey Argyll. Matthew Goode, having a ball as disabled war hero Philip Durrant, was relentlessly cruel to his wife, Rachel’s daughter Mary (Eleanor Tomlinson, Demelza from Poldark). It takes a fine ensemble cast to make so many different characters so fabulously horrible. In fact, only Calgary and the deceased’s other daughter Tina Argyll (Crystal Clarke) deserved to be spared. Everyone else was free to shuffle off.

In Sarah Phelps’s post-war retelling, the threat of nuclear war looms in the background. A swift intercontinental ballistic missile would certainly have improved the civility of the breakfast table.

Three episodes might be one too many, but Ordeal by Innocence is a remarkably taut piece of writing. In murder mysteries the balance must always be struck between revealing enough so that the viewer feels that they could have worked out who did it, but not so much that they do. This is why almost all such programmes hinge on a detective: a Barnaby or a Poirot or a Lund. It’s not we, the intelligent audience, who are being deceived: it’s the blundering dick.

Without that device, here it must be achieved through hints and glances, quick cuts, and dialogue. By the end of the episode, there was a third death: another step that rightly threw us. For all our Scandi noir and sophisticated modern crime drama, Ordeal by Innocence proves that a masterful plot will endure beyond fashion. Christie’s reputation is safe in Phelps’s hands.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Serge Gainsbourg: “our Baudelaire, our Apollinaire de la chanson” or egocentric and narcissistically decadent ‘poseur’? “Jane and Serge” FROM SATURDAY 07 APRIL UNTIL SUNDAY 04 NOVEMBER Musée des Beaux Arts, 25 rue Richelieu, Calais.

Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin in Paris in 1973. Photograph: Michel Clement/AFP/Getty Images

He was a great man. I was just pretty': photos tell story of Jane and Serge
Exhibition in Calais captures intimate moments from Birkin and Gainsbourg’s relationship

Maev Kennedy
Fri 6 Apr 2018 13.13 BST Last modified on Fri 6 Apr 2018 22.00 BST

Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin in Paris in 1973. Photograph: Michel Clement/AFP/Getty Images
The English singer and actor Jane Birkin met Serge Gainsbourg in 1968 when she was 22 and left the French singer and songwriter more than half a lifetime ago in 1980 – yet at 71 her name is still rarely mentioned without being bracketed with his.

As an exhibition of photographs – called, inevitably, Jane & Serge – opens in Calais, she seemed philosophical about the oversight. Among scores of glamorous images of the couple, the largest photograph by far, blown up to the size of a barn door, is of his handsome if haggard features cradling not Birkin but their dog Nana.

“That’s what happens when you are with a great man,” she said. “He was a great man. I was just pretty.”

She was equally cheerfully accepting of the fact that much of her fame still rests on one scandalous song, the ecstatic moans of Je t’aime ... moi non plus, recorded in the year she met him, and an international hit despite being banned in many countries.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest  Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg take a break as they drive through Oxfordshire in 1969. Photograph: Krause & Johansen/Andrew Birkin
“It was surprising to be banned by both the Vatican and the BBC,” she said. “And it was funny to have the BBC orchestra playing it because they wouldn’t play it on Top of the Pops.”

Birkin is halfway through a world tour of orchestral versions of Gainsbourg songs, and added: “If I am singing in Argentina in two weeks’ time, it is because of Je t’aime.”

The photographs were taken by Birkin’s brother, Andrew, a film scriptwriter and director, who had been photographing his sister since he first bought a cheap camera in his teens. Some in the exhibition are family snaps, while others – including the couple mugging for the camera on a red doubledecker bus – come from a magazine photo shoot. All had been carefully filed away for half a century, and some he had never seen printed before.

He met Gainsbourg almost as soon as his sister did, when he was working with Stanley Kubrick on the eventually aborted project for an , and she wrote from the set of the film Slogan, begging him to come and keep her company and cheer her up from her daily encounters with “a horrible man”, who was mocking and teasing her. Gainsbourg was, and remains a giant in French cultural circles, but Birkin was already well known from film roles including a famous nude scene in Michelangelo Antonioni’s .

Birkin said: “I fell in love with Serge, Andrew fell in love with Serge, Serge fell in love with Andrew, we were a trio.”

Her brother had no partner or children at the time, and regularly joined the couple and their children – her daughter Kate from her marriage to the composer John Barry, and Charlotte, born in 1971 – and dogs for holidays. Andrew Birkin took photographs continuously, documenting long lunches, smoky evenings, sleepy mornings, and less familiar views of the moody Gainsbourg roaring with laughter or playing rowdy games with the children. The gallery in Calais is a few miles up the coast from many of the happy seaside settings.

“I had never met anyone like him, I adored him,” Andrew Birkin said. “It was not sexual – or maybe that is not what a psychiatrist would say. We did kiss on the lips.” Their intense triangular friendship survived the breakup of his sister’s relationship. He last saw Gainsbourg a few months before his death in 1991, at his house in Paris with its black and chrome interior, where fans still lay floral and painted tributes on the pavement.

 “He took me back to his bedroom with the big black bed in the big black room. He had a pile of film videos – not good films, terrible American cowboy things – he put one on, and he was fast asleep in two or three minutes. I left in the small hours and I never saw him again.”

“It’s a bit weird,” Jane Birkin said, looking around at walls lined with her own shining young face, and Gainsbourg’s crumpled features usually wreathed in cigarette smoke, “it’s a bit like being dead.”

She left because his melancholy and heavy drinking made him impossible to live with, she said, but thinks in many ways they were better friends and he wrote her better songs after she left.

“You could talk back to him for once,” she said. “You were not just his creation any more.”

• Jane & Serge, Calais Museum of Fine Arts, until 4 November

Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg take a break as they drive through Oxfordshire in 1969. Photograph: Krause & Johansen/Andrew Birkin

Jane and Serge in 1969. Photograph: Krause & Johansen/Andrew Birkin

Jane Birkin alongside her brother, Andrew, in 1964. Photograph: Krause & Johansen/Andrew Birkin

Serge Gainsbourg's 20 most scandalous moments
From writing saucy songs for Brigitte Bardot to propositioning Whitney Houston on TV, we recall the causes célèbres of France's premier pop poet

Francine Gorman
Mon 28 Feb 2011 12.10 GMT First published on Mon 28 Feb 2011 12.10 GMT

 Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg
 French connection ... Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg. Photograph: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Twenty years ago this week saw an event that brought the entire French population to a standstill. It was the day that Serge Gainsbourg – France's answer to David Bowie, Mick Jagger and John Lennon rolled into one smoke cloud of controversy – died of a heart attack. So what better way to commemorate his life and legacy than a look at the 20 most scandalous things he achieved during his career?

1. Writing suggestive songs for Eurovision-winning 18-year-old girls
1965 saw Frrench sweetheart France Gall take to the Eurovision stage to perform a Gainsbourg-penned entry, Poupée de Cire, Poupée de Son (later covered by Arcade Fire). A resounding win at the competition, combined with the success of their previous collaborations such as 1964's Laisse Tomber Les Filles led Gall to trust Gainsbourg to a point that she would sing more or less whatever he presented her with. A trust that would be well and truly scuppered with the release of Les Sucettes (Lollipops) in 1966, the story of a girl who is "in paradise" every time "that little stick is on her tongue". Upon discovering the dual meaning of the risqué lyrics, Gall refused to perform the song and never worked with, nor spoke to Gainsbourg again.

2. Dating the already married Brigitte Bardot

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In 1967 Gainsbourg became infatuated with the French siren who, while enduring a difficult time in her marriage, agreed to go on a date with him. So intimidated was he by her stunning looks that on the date, he lost all of the wit and charisma that he was renowned for. Thinking he had ruined his chances with the sultry blonde, he returned home to hear a ringing phone over which Bardot insisted that as an apology for his poor performance on the date, he write her the most beautiful love song ever heard. The next morning, there were two: Bonnie et Clyde and Je T'aime … Moi Non Plus.

3. Recording songs in steamy, sweaty vocal booths (also with Brigitte Bardot)
Understandably, this upset Bardot's husband. Upon hearing Je T'aime … Moi Non Plus, Bardot headed to a Parisian studio with her new beau to record it. Throughout the two-hour session, sound engineer William Flageollet claimed to have witnessed "heavy petting" in the vocal booth while the sighs and whispers were committed to tape. The song had been mixed and readied for radio when Bardot, remembering that she was married, revoked her consent for its release. News of the recording had reached her husband, German businessman Gunter Sachs, and after desperate pleas, Gainsbourg relented to Bardot's wishes and the version was shelved. Bardot later went on to release the recording in 1986. And also to divorce her husband.

4. "Enticing" and entrapping a young English rose
This was how the wooing of his next major love interest was widely reported, but it's not necessarily the truth. Distraught after the collapse of his relationship with Bardot, Gainsbourg occupied himself with a role in the 1969 film Slogan. Playing opposite him was a charming, young English actor called Jane Birkin. Under the impression that her co-star hated her, Birkin arranged a dinner with him over which Gainsbourg, 18 years her senior, fell in love. Unfortunately, due to the amount of alcohol consumed throughout the date, the first night the pair spent together was in a hotel room ... with Gainsbourg passed out drunk on the bed. The pair would remain a couple until 1980, and inseparable friends until the end of Serge's life.

5. Moaning and groaning on record
After shelving the original Bardot recorded version, Marianne Faithfull and Valérie Lagrange (among others) were approached to make feminine "noises", as it were, but both declined. A willing companion was, however, found in new love interest Jane Birkin. Rumours had circulated that the pair recorded some of the more intimate parts of the song by placing a microphone underneath their bed. In actual fact, the re-recording was undertaken in studios in Paris and London where the heavy breathing was claimed to have been meticulously stage-managed by Gainsbourg. Birkin has always denied the rumours of employing the under-bed recording technique ... for this song, anyway.

6. Getting rich by shocking the world
Je T'aime … Moi Non Plus brought huge success, notoriety, substantial record sales and worldwide outrage when it was finally released in 1969. It was No 1 throughout Europe, and was the first UK No 1 to be sung in a language other than English. By far Gainsbourg's most successful release, the song is recognised internationally as "that one with the organs and the girl having an orgasm?". The single sold millions and set the tone for what was to come next from the scandalous pair.

7. Getting banned by radio
Even though millions of copies of Je T'aime ... Moi Non Plus were sold around the world, the song was still considered too explicit for radio play. In the UK, it was the first No 1 to be banned by the BBC due to its explicit content. It was also banned in Spain, Sweden, Italy and even on French radio before 11pm. It has also been claimed that the Italian executive who permitted the release of the song was excommunicated by the Vatican, and in the US, limited sales and radio play led the single to peak at the oddly appropriate chart position of 69. However, Americans and Italians used thriftiness to get hold of the records, and in the end, all of this publicity didn't do the sales much harm at all.

8. Writing a concept album about falling in love with a teenage girl, who subsequently dies in a plane crash
This was always going to raise a few eyebrows, particularly when you get your young girlfriend to pose as the eponymous teenage seductress for the album cover. 1971's Histoire de Melody Nelson was Gainsbourg's first concept album, the story of a man who knocks a young redhead from her bicycle and falls in love with her. An ultimately tragic tale, the album is now recognised much more for its musical prowess than any underlying Lolita-inspired tones. With strings and arrangements orchestrated by the profoundly talented Jean-Claude Vannier, musicians from Beck through to Placebo and Portishead have cited this album as hugely influential on their work, demonstrating once again how Gainsbourg could overcome a scandal to emerge the immensely gifted hero.

9. Suffering his first heart attack at 45
In 1973, at the relatively young age of 45, Gainsbourg's years of smoking and drinking began to catch up with him and in May, he suffered his first heart attack. After collapsing in his museum-like home on Rue de Verneuil in Paris's trendy St Germain, an ambulance arrived to take him to hospital. Before leaving the house however, Gainsbourg insisted he be covered with his highly fashionable, extremely valuable Hermès blanket as the hospital's "own brand" ones were too ugly. Typical Gainsbourg, always one to go out in style.

10. Performing publicity stunts in hospital beds
While recovering from his heart attack, Gainsbourg began to miss the spotlight so called a press conference from his hospital bed during which he claimed he would reduce the risk of suffering a second heart attack by "increasing his intake of alcohol and cigarettes". Found hidden around his hospital room on his departure were pill bottles stuffed with cigarette butts, from the sneaky smokes he'd been illicitly enjoying while "recovering".

11. Casting his girlfriend in the role of the boyish-looking lover of a homosexual man
This is what Serge riled people with in 1976. The Gainsbourg-directed film, which shared the title of his hugely successful song Je T'aime ... Moi Non Plus was a complicated, explicit story following the difficult relationship of a gay man who falls in love with a boyish female (Birkin), and the sexual problems and emotional difficulties this inevitably leads to. The film was poorly received in France, and even more so in England where it was shown on only one screen – in an adult cinema in Soho.

12. Embracing Nazi rock
Paris, 1975. Thirty years after the end of the second world war. This would be a good moment, Gainsbourg thought to himself, to release Rock Around the Bunker, an upbeat concept album about Nazi Germany. The songs were set to swinging two-step beats, a return to a rockier feel after a few albums exploring more orchestral sounds. Opening track Nazi Rock tells the story of SS soldiers dressed as drag queens, dancing during the Night of the Long Knives. This song, combined with other tracks from the album such as Eva and SS in Uruguay led Gainsbourg, provocative as ever, to find himself in trouble for his comical take on a controversial subject.

13. Releasing a reggae version of the French national anthem
This has a tendency to incite hatred among your fellow countrymen. A stint in Jamaica was where Gainsbourg recorded his 1979 reggae-inspired effort, Aux Armes Et Caetera, of which the title track was a cover of the French national anthem, La Marseillaise. The album was a collaboration with reggae legends Sly & Robbie, who accompanied Gainsbourg on a subsequent tour that was plagued with bomb threats, cancellations and disgruntled protesting paratroopers. However, in true Gainsbourg style, the controversy was manipulated to work to his advantage, and the album eventually became one of his fastest sellers. Aux Armes Et Caetera sold more than 600,000 copies in France and is considered to be one of the earliest albums to have brought reggae to the mainstream.

14. Turning his house into a black, fabric-lined museum
Gainsbourg claimed to need the calming influence of black at his St Germain home to counter the relentless activity in his brain. Each item of his extravagant collection of objects was specifically placed around his house and according to Birkin, Gainsbourg would know if anything had been touched or moved. Surrounded by beautiful things, but also compelled by an impulse that would probably be described today as OCD, Gainsbourg strived to keep his home exactly as he wanted it. Being unable to treat the house as a home was reportedly one of the contributing factors to Birkin leaving him in 1980.

15. Setting a 500 franc note alight on French TV
For one thing, this was illegal. Yes. even if you are Serge Gainsbourg. 1984 would prove to be one of his more audacious years, seeing him cause all kinds of stirs. It was in this year that Gainsbourg burned a 500 franc note live on French TV in a protest against heavy taxation. Although an offence punishable by law, Gainsbourg would feel the heat from a different direction. As a reaction to the extravagant behaviour of her father, Charlotte's classmates would retaliate by setting her homework on fire, punishing her for her father's disregard for money.

16. Releasing a duet with his teenage daughter entitled Lemon Incest
This caused one of the biggest scandals of Gainsbourg's career. Recorded with 12-year-old daughter Charlotte in 1984 (as previously mentioned, one of his more outlandish years), the song caused uproar in France, and even made headlines in the UK. The title, a play on similarities between the words "zest" and "incest" was considered shocking enough, but it was the video that would be the major source of complaint. Young Charlotte was filmed in a nightshirt and knickers lying on a bed with her topless father, singing about "the love that we will never make together". The world was outraged, but the publicity led to increased album sales with Serge and Charlotte subsequently made a huge amount of money, proving Gainsbourg's recipe for success, once again, to be a winning one.

17. Promoting sexually driven puns
Looking again to 1984, as though inspired by George Orwell's authority-battling ideas, Gainsbourg once again managed to outrage the nation. In this year Love On the Beat was released, the title of the album being a play on the word "bite", a colloquial French term meaning "dick". The album was surrounded by controversy for Gainsbourg's application of sexually driven puns. Also featuring his most highly contested release, Lemon Incest, Love On the Beat would go on to become his most provocative album.

18. Explicitly stating his sexual desires to Whitney Houston on French TV
After a performance on the French prime time show of Michel Drucker in 1986, Houston found herself seated next to France's most notorious lothario for a post-performance chat. Little did she expect that the praise she would receive would turn into something sordid as Gainsbourg, in his best English clearly and confidently informed his host that he wanted "to fuck her". Houston's already highly blushed cheeks deepened a shade, and the scenario has never since been forgotten.

19.Taking his twisted ideas and ... making a movie out of them
As if the hysteria surrounding Lemon Incest hadn't provided quite enough drama for the Gainsbourgs, in 1986 Serge took it a step further when he wrote and directed Charlotte Forever, the story of a young girl (played by his daughter Charlotte) living with her widowed, alcoholic father. The film intertwined stories of incest and suicidal tendencies that French audiences found distasteful and difficult to understand. This reaction was upsetting for all involved in the film and to make things up to his daughter, Gainsbourg wrote her an album of the same name with poignant, touching duets. His audience forgave him, and Serge went on to record his final release, a rap album entitled You're Under Arrest.

20. Dying in style
Serge Gainsbourg would be found dead after suffering another heart attack at his home in Rue de Verneuil. It seems his decision to preserve his health by smoking and drinking even more didn't quite work out. France stood still on hearing the news, and fans flocked to his home to pay tribute to the country's most illustrious rock star. François Mitterrand, the president at the time, described Gainsbourg as "our Baudelaire, our Apollinaire ... he elevated song to the level of art". Although leaving a legacy of scandal, drama and controversy, Gainsbourg is now remembered much more for his artistic ability, music and charisma. Serge Gainsbourg is still a highly debated, yet widely adored character. He also achieved what he intended, to have us all talking about him, even 20 years after his death.

03 21 46 48 40
Musée des Beaux Arts
25 rue Richelieu
62100 Calais
Description        « Jane & Serge »

Family album by Andrew Birkin
While it is true that many photographics exist of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg as a couple, Andrew Birkin's series
is conspicuous for its intimacy and rarity. These images of a decade which is seen by many as symbolic of a true cultural
renewal offer an extraordinary diversity of stagings.
The exhibition at the Calais Museum of Fine Arts follows the recent rediscovery of private photographs by Andrew Birkin,
brought into the public arena in the form of a prestigious art book published by Taschen in 2013 under the direction of
Alison Castle: Jane & Serge, a Family Album by Andrew Birkin (Taschen, Cologne, 2013). It is partly based on information
and a selection of prints from that book. Featuring in turn family snapshots or series of commissions for the press, the
exhibition reveals the extent to which the private and public life of the artist couple formed by Jane Birkin and Serge
Gainsbourg were interwoven.
Yet the exhibition Jane & Serge, a family album by Andrew Birkin develops an original discourse, combining a selection
of Andew Birkin's photographs with a brief presentation of the cultural context. It draws visitors into a period of artistic
profusion and new freedoms, to this day epitomised in France by Jane Birkin. The exhibition also evokes the artistic
experimentations conducted at that time by Serge Gainsbourg, although these attracted less attention than the later
excesses of his decadent dandy persona.
This exhibition takes on its full significance being staged as it is in the city of Calais, the crossing point between France
and England. Serge Gainsbourg looked across the Channel for a more modern sound; his music is inspired by an
Anglo-Saxon legacy and his meeting with Jane Birkin, the young English actress who was to become his muse. Dated for
the most part between 1964 and 1979, Andrew Birkin's photographs bear testimony to this pivotal period for the artist,
between France and the United Kingdom.
The content of the exhibition has been developed by the Calais Museum of Fine Arts with the collaboration of Andrew
Birkin and the cultural projects agency Art Storm.

until Sunday 4 November 2018