History films can fake it – they’re art, not journalism | Letters

Guardian readers respond to Simon Jenkins’ article about fictional history films being the new threat to truth

Is Simon Jenkins trying to turn the clock back? Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians (1918) established a new form of biography which, with wit, irreverence, lampoon, irony and caricature, established new, deeper truths about his subjects apart from mere facts. Strachey borrowed from history, fiction, drama, of truth of fact and truth of fiction. He showed that outrage and subtlety are compatible.

Strachey himself writes in his preface to Eminent Victorians: “The explorer of the past, if he is wise, will adopt a subtler strategy: he will shoot a sudden, revealing searchlight into obscure recesses, hitherto undivined. He will row out over that great ocean of material and lower down into it a little bucket, which will bring up to the light of day some characteristic specimen from those depths.” This is what Adam McKay
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BBC led revolution in public access TV | Brief letters

Public access TV | Fragmented railways | Evans Cycles | Wordsearch | Trident | Brighton or Hove

Re your article on Channel 4, from 1973 to 2002 the BBC’s Community Programme Unit gave the marginalised, unheard and ignored the opportunity to make programmes under their own editorial control. The Cpu’s Video Diaries and Video Nation strands also put the cameras in the public’s hands. Part of Channel 4’s initial remit was to broadcast unheard voices and different perspectives, but the public access revolution began at the BBC.

Tony Laryea

Editor, BBC Community Programme Unit 1985-1990

• I hope that trade union representatives of the Rmt and Aslef will be invited to write a full-page opinion piece in response to Simon Jenkins’.

Julie Boston

Co-founder of Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways
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Die Rekruten: the reality show on the frontline of the German army's battle for public support

A hit YouTube documentary may help to undo scepticism about the military as allies call for the country to play a bigger role

Julia weeps when ordered to remove her piercings, Jerome struggles with his early wake-up call, and Marvin shivers when handed an assault rifle for the first time. “I hope I never have to use it,” he says. The scenes are from Die Rekruten (The Recruits), a hit YouTube documentary following the lives of 12 new marines, who have become something like minor celebrities, during their first three months of training.

“Perhaps these will be the hardest three months of their lives,” says a deep-voiced commentator during the opening credits of the show, against a dramatic backdrop of silhouettes of the recruits, who have attracted a strong following on social media.

Related: The Germans are making contingency plans for the collapse of Europe. Let’s hope we are, too
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Charlotte Church joins 'Question Time' panel

Charlotte Church joins 'Question Time' panel
Charlotte Church has been confirmed for this week's Question Time panel. The Welsh singer will take part in the BBC's long-running political debate show when it takes place in Swansea on Thursday night (November 29). Church will appear alongside Shadow Immigration Minister Chris Bryant MP, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP, Neil Wallis, former executive editor of the News of the World, and columnist Simon Jenkins. David Dimbleby will chair (more)
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Simon Hoggart's week: We do so like to paint ourselves into a corner

We'll find it hard to defend the Falklands now we don't have an aircraft carrier, and we just can't resist showing ourselves in a bad light

✒As the Falkland islanders prepare to vote in their referendum, I met at a party a very, very senior military officer – someone you've certainly seen on television. I asked if it was true the Argentinians had no intention of trying to retake the islands by force, and he said he hoped not. But they could certainly cause havoc. All they needed to do, he said, was to land special forces on the islands and blow up the airfield. "Now that we have no aircraft carriers, there is absolutely no way we could send troops and materiel. We would be absolutely powerless." I have no doubt this thought has occurred to the Argies too.

✒There's been much sympathy for David and Samantha Cameron after it
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Letters: People who lived in glass houses and climate change

As the researcher on the 1972 BBC1 series Mistress of Hardwick, which recreated life inside the Countess of Shrewsbury's magnificent Elizabethan mansion, I was intrigued by Lucy Worsley's suggestion that we should "Live like Bess of Hardwick" (13 April) in order to help adapt to climate change and the loss of oil and other resources. While it's true that Bess was at times maternally generous to her staff, many of whom lived in close proximity within the household, it's misleading to present that way of life as in any way a model for modern times.

Of course it would be lovely to imagine some sort of mutually supportive, organic community living in such a beautiful building. But the truth is that it was a steeply hierarchical and authoritarian society, in which most people had few rights but many duties, with little or no scope for dissent.

Nor was the house energy efficient,
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Letters: Multicultural hamlet

Perhaps the now ex-producer of Midsomer Murders, Brian True-May – now he has some time on his hands – would like to visit my rural hamlet in Buckinghamshire? He could bring Simon Jenkins with him – since he apparently agrees with True-May, who said: "We don't have ethnic minorities involved because it wouldn't be the English village with them. It just wouldn't work" (Report, 15 May). We don't live far away from the village where much of Midsomer Murders is shot. Here, in our small hamlet of around 50 people, we have a British family of African descent, a British Asian and also my wife, British of Iranian descent. While there is no point in pretending that most English villages are multicultural, there are clearly some that are. What's more, there will be plenty of villages that are in the future. Thank God, or Allah, for that!

Mark Seddon


Race & religionITV1ITVTelevision industryTelevisionRace issues

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