A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME: AN EXPERT’S VIEW: Anna Griffiths is kind - so gives A Dance to the Music of Time a second chance

It promised fun, sex, scandal and rich people - particularly men - behaving badly. A Dance to The Music of Time, based on Anthony Powell’s 12-volume epic, follows a clutch of school chums from the 20s until the early 70s. With a lavish multi-million pound budget and a cast of diehard luvvies such as John Gielgud, Edward Fox and Alan Bennett, how could it fail?

It promised fun, sex, scandal and rich people - particularly men -

behaving badly. A Dance to The Music of Time, based on Anthony Powell’s

12-volume epic, follows a clutch of school chums from the 20s until the

early 70s. With a lavish multi-million pound budget and a cast of

diehard luvvies such as John Gielgud, Edward Fox and Alan Bennett, how

could it fail?



Channel 4 has been busy building up to the ’event’, with lots of

programme trailers and posters, creating the same anticipation that it

did with its tortuous drama-thriller, Melissa, which failed to impress

audiences in May. Perhaps this was a bad sign.



The first episode had a naked woman opening the door to her lover and

then dancing, again naked, with him in the closing scene - and that’s

about as clear as it gets. To try and sum up (someone has to): this

first part set up the characters, following them from school (Eton, of

course) to University and then through careers and marriages (all

disastrous).



The narrator, Nicholas Jenkins, played by pretty boy, James Purefoy,

looks on in various states of surprise and condemnation, as he bumps

into his pals from school, including the hapless Widmerpool, who

progresses from victim to the controlling force. But with different

actors playing the same people at different ages, I got very confused,

although Widmerpool was one of the few constants, looking 50 when he was

supposed to be 15.



In A Dance to the Music of Time, the only other constants were bouts of

dancing and bursts of music. Time played a confusing role, as we

staggered through five-year chunks, guessing at characters’ ages by the

number of jobs or wives they had got through.



I appreciate Channel 4 is keeping its promise to invest in home-grown

drama, and so I will watch the next episode in the hope the likes of

Miranda Richardson will bring depth to the story.



Anna Griffiths, a Campaign media reporter, is ready to reach for the

remote.



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