'Memories,' according to PG Wodehouse 'are like mulligatawny soup in a cheap restaurant. It is best not to stir them.'
In this memory-themed edition of Words and Music Tom Hiddleston and Eleanor Bron nonetheless poke around with the soup spoon to discover what's below the surface.
Among the ingredients Wordsworth and Bertie Wooster are in remarkable agreement; Alan Bennett struggles to comes to terms with his mother's dementia; and Fanny Burney recalls her horrific operation. St Peter and Montaigne have trouble remembering; Ted Hughes remembers all too well his honeymoon with Sylvia Plath; William Blake and Elizabeth Jennings look back on happier days. Somewhere in the middle is a large dollop of Proust.
It's all to be found floating in the music of Purcell, Conlon Nancarrow, Chabrier, John Adams, Brahms and Bach.
David Papp (producer).
Lords of Misrule
Turn the world upside down, break all the rules and let the dead talk to the living and what have you got? Nothing less than the spirit of Carnival. This week Words and Music takes its cue from Rome's Saturnalia and the gris gris of New Orleans.
Carnival may be about laughter and licence but it also acknowledges darkness and unease. It's a kind of whistling in the dark and a kind of exorcism. It gives physical form to our fears and with its clowns, zombies and ritual helps us to reconcile ourselves to the obscene, the terrible and the outrageously wonderful in our lives. Most, if not all of us watch and all of us sometimes wear the mask and join the dance.
Musical intoxication is supplied by the likes of Saint Saens, Constant Lambert, Verdi and Berlioz and the verbal fireworks come courtesy of Edgar Allan Poe, Byron, Elizabeth Bishop, ee cummings, Malcolm Lowry and Goethe with the actors Saskia Reeves and Tom Hiddleston as the Lords of Misrule.
Cyrano de Bergerac is, perhaps, the greatest classic romance. Set in 17th century France, it features the eponymous poet-swordsman with a misshapen nose but abundant panache who falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful Roxane. She, alas, loves another, the dashing Gascon soldier Christian de Neuvillette and Cyrano finds himself acting as the young suitor's ghost writer, pouring out exquisite love poems to win the day.
This production uses Anthony Burgess's fine verse translation of Rostand's ever-popular play. Cyrano is played by Kenneth Branagh, Roxane by Jodhi May and Christian by Tom Hiddleston. They make the most not only of the passion and poetry and the famously moving conclusion, but also the humour which threads through the play.
Sunday 4 May 2008 20:00-22:45
By William Shakespeare
A production from London's Donmar Warehouse, featuring an award-winning performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor in the title role as the jealous Moor Othello, alongside Ewan McGregor as the scheming Iago.
When the esteemed general Othello promotes Cassio to be his personal lieutenant, Iago, Cassio's bitter rival and friend of Othello, is envious and plots revenge. Iago manipulates and enrages Othello, making him suspicious of his wife Desdemona, ultimately bringing events to a tragic conclusion.
2 hours 45 minutes
Don Fabrizio, a member of the old Italian aristocracy, contemplates his obsolescence amidst the great social changes during the Risorgimento of the 19th century. The head of an opulent household in Sicily, he reflects nostalgically on the past as his family grows to maturity and Garibaldi's republican movement puts an end to the feudal system and the traditions of the old bourgeoisie.
An unlikely group of kingmakers gathers together to select the Roman Emperor, as the forces of Attila the Hun threaten the Empire's stability. Drama by Mike Walker based on Suetonius's work, with Tom Hiddleston, David Collings, Adjoa Andoh, George Baker, Sam Dale and Victor Sobchak. Series 3, Episode 3
Another Country is loosely based on the life of the spy Guy Burgess, Guy Bennett in the play, and examines the effect his homosexuality and exposure to Marxism has on his life, and the hypocrisy and snobbery of the English public schools.
Drama based on the transcripts of the 1972 trial of "The Angry Brigade", a group of left wing subversives who over two or three years carried out a wave of bombings in pursuit of their doctrines. The defendants and their supporters viewed it as a political trial. At six months long, this was the longest criminal trial in British legal history.