Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Thursday, 5 June 2008


A new BBC series called Jews starts on June 18th , this is a piece I wrote on the series in today's New Statesman

After the 11 September 2001 attacks, both Jews and Muslims ceased to be people and became ideas, concepts to be discussed in newspaper columns, internet chat rooms and blogs. Jews and Muslims as three-dimensional beings, independent of their role in terror or the war on it, separate from their opinions of the Middle East, dropped out of sight. The BBC has sought to rectify this situation by commissioning three films about Jews from the award-winning documentary-maker Vanessa Engle, whose 2006 series Lefties made me laugh out loud. The presence of the name Anthony Wall, a long-time editor of the Arena arts strand, also inspires confidence.

. . .

Engle's series tries to get to grips with Jewish life in Britain. What you are left with are those faces. The crooked smile of the Auschwitz survivor from Salonica. The trapped eyes of the Hasidic drug dealer. The cornered look of the Jewish atheist who doesn't want to hurt his father. They aren't issues. They're what life is, before you start having opinions about it and turning it into an issue.


Deja Pseu said...

Very interesting article. I'm hoping that series makes it to BBC America. Our PBS did one recently on the history of Jews in America which was quite good.

If you're ever in LA, you might enjoy a visit to the Skirball museum. It features exhibits on Jewish communities in some of the most unlikely places, such as China.

60 Going On 16 said...

Thanks for mentioning this Linda. There is now so much dross on UK television; one forgets that there are still, occasionally, landmark documentaries that make the licence fee worthwhile.

Arabella said...

While everyone else is watching American Idol, would some kind soul please divert some military spending money into the coffers of PBS, then I could see this. After all, we had Cranford recently!
BBC America is an endless loop of Jeremy Clarkson and Monarch of the effing Glen (as it's known in our house)so this documentary, along with the recent play about Mary Whitehouse would be most welcome.

mq, cb said...

deja pseu, the programme will probably be available to watch online for 7 days after its broadcast transmission. Go to

Arabella, "Filth" is still available on iplayer, I think.

If you can't access them from the USA, I suppose that you could always try going through a proxy server.

Arabella said...

Thanks mq.