Last Night’s TV: The Culture Show

The Beeb’s terrestrial high-brow output returns, albeit in condensed form.

What started as an ambitious project designed to equal The South Bank Show in early evening form back in 2004 has found itself transformed into a lighter, late night format.

One of the great things about The Culture Show has always been its diversity. Over the course of its hour (or reduced 50 minutes as it soon became) your evening’s viewing could be perforated by Russell Brand speaking to the Oxford University Union only to effortless switch to an in depth review of the latest art house film from Mark Kermode.

This delightful array of treats remain in the show’s new format – now hosted by Kermode alongside ex-rocker turned presenter Lauren Laverne – but squashed into a hectic half hour.

Last night in the space of 30 minutes we managed to sample hasty snippets of Karl Pilkington’s video diary of filming with regular cohort Ricky Gervais in Boston, writer Simon Armitage’s attempts to start a rock band at 45, Kermode’s scathing review of Sex And The City, art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon attempting a Freudian analysis of the work of Gustav Klimt, all topped off by a performance from 21 album strong Sparks in the studio.

While you have to admire the efforts of those involved to produce such a wealth of interesting content in a bitesize primetime package, you couldn’t help but feel the maybe whatever Culture is – as the BBC have been trying to find out through those annoying idents – it is best enjoyed at a more leisurely pace.