Friday, 23 August 2013

The Daily: August 23

We scour the news so you don't have to...

Written by Stephanie Rihon
The end of Downton?
Downton Abbey aficionados avert your eyes: some truly worrying news is hot off the press. In a recent interview, Hugh Bonneville, who plays the Earl of Grantham, has urged Julian Fellowes to ‘quit while he is ahead’. Bonneville has said that he doubts the future of the award winning series. The upcoming season begins in September and is set in February 1922. Bonneville is particularly worried that this time shift will mean that the series will catch up with other BBC period dramas such as ‘Upstairs Downstairs’.
Nevertheless, Bonneville thinks he is ‘colossally lucky’ for starring in the series but sees Downton’s future as a carousel ride. At some point, it has to stop and everyone will go in their separate directions. Indeed, the television networks or ‘money men’, as Bonneville puts it, will want Downton to continue as it fares extremely well in more than 100 countries, reaching about 120 million viewers each week.

New Iron Lady
The designs for a new statue in Grantham, Lincolnshire, birthplace of Margaret Thatcher, have been unveiled. The only physical memorial of Thatcher in the area is a small plaque on the building of her father’s old grocery shop. Helen Goral, chairman of the Grantham Museum, hopes that this will expand on exhibitions that already feature in the museum on the town’s ‘most famous daughter’.

Several designs have been created both of Thatcher in standing and seated positions with the help of an artist, but the museum wishes to have significant input from the public. A decision on its location still needs to be made; whether it should be inside the museum or in the main Grantham square. Goral hopes that the statue’s base will contain discs with famous Thatcher quotes to add poignancy and a feminist angle to the monument. Visitors will be able to take away brass rubbings of the quotes as a memento of their visit. The statue will be privately funded with hopes to raise approximately £200,000 for the initiative. It will be an opportunity for the town to ‘embrace its rich heritage,’ continues Goral.

The Grantham Museum has seen an influx of visitors measuring more than 300% since the former Prime Minister’s death on 8 April this year. Further to this, 3,000 visitors signed condolence books sharing their views and memories of Thatcher’s three terms in power (1979-90).

When in Rome...drink wine like the Romans did
A group of archaeologists at the University of Catania in Sicily have decided to ferment wine in the same style as their Roman ancestors. Instead of using machinery, archaeologists will utilise Roman tools to plant the vines in the ground, fastening them with canes and brooms. Following this, the wine will be fermented in replica man-sized terracotta pots then with a lining of beeswax to avoid water drainage.

They hope to make 70 litres of red wine at the first harvest through this process of open fermentation. The ‘recipe’, so to speak, was sourced in Virgil’s poem ‘Georgics’. In antiquity, the wine used to have a vinegary tang to it and was usually sold to slaves. The rest was sweetened with honey and water to be sold to nobles. Lead researcher, Mario Indelicato, has said that they will ‘rely on the fermentation of the grapes themselves, which will make it as hit and miss as it was then’. The only thing which has changed in the past thousand years is the grape variety available to them and the Italian attitude to drinking; their ancestors were at ease with ‘drunken carousing’.

The future of television by Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey was the first actor to give the Mac Taggart address at the Edinburgh Television Festival yesterday for 38 years. His keynote speech focused on the future of television, stating  that the medium was entering its ‘third golden age’ and needs to be nurtured to grow further. The actor argued that for several years, the quality of television dramas have been increasing and overshadowing the big screen by creating complex characters that drive the action forward. Spacey mentioned the US hits, ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Homeland’ as examples of this phenomenon which have also struck gold over the pond amongst British viewers.

However, Spacey continued to warn television networks to steer clear of a ‘shift to conservatism’. The American system of piloting shows before they are chosen to air has long been criticised as a result. In a short 45 minutes, writers have to establish the premise of characters and create random cliffhangers to prove their script’s potential. Veteran shows like ‘The Sopranos’ would never have been picked up by networks with this method. This leads to shift in focus, with producers pitching their shows to digital media such as Netflix, which is where Spacey’s new programme ‘House of Cards’ is currently syndicated.

Spacey’s conclusion harks back to his mentor, Jack Lemmon’s, words, ‘it’s about total abandon’. The aim is to empower artists, nurture their creativity and to ‘keep the flame of this revolutionary programming alive’. That is the future Kevin Spacey wishes to secure for television in the coming years: breaking boundaries by taking risks and transporting viewers to new places.

#VictorianEnglandUnveiled
Historians have created a modern time machine using Twitter to try to recreate Victorian England and document Jack the Ripper’s murders. For over a year, several Ripper specialists known as Ripperologists have pulled together documents and photographs to piece together the true atmosphere of the time. Their efforts will be released on Saturday via @WChapelRealTime, a new Twitter account which will send out live tweets tracing the Ripper’s killings. The famous Detective Constable Frederick Abberline will be hash-tagged as well as contemporary reporters and local workers’ musings from nearby Shadwell Docks.

If hearing about Jack the Ripper’s horrors was not enough, you can also learn about life in Victorian England. The historians warn that ‘living conditions were pretty grim’ with no lavatory facilities in the rat infested flats of East London. This somewhat strange initiative was created to introduce the younger generation to this portion of England’s history; a change from the dusty textbooks.

However, author Richard Jones worries that this will glamourise the murders ‘as if they are a tourist attraction’ when the public should be paying respect to the five brutally murdered women. He even suggests the erection of a plaque, paying homage to the murder victims, which will remind people of the Ripper’s terror.

Photography: Press Association



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