I like to be educated by the programmes I watch on television. And when knowledgeable celebrities are talking about things that happened in the past, I like to have a comparison with something I have experienced so that I can imagine what the real thing was like.
In Armando's Tale Of Charles Dickens, I was transported back to Dickensian times, realising more and more just how much we've got in common with Victorian Britain. For example, Iannucci describes the excitement of a Dickens' public reading. I immediately tasted the flavour of such an event when told it was like "Lady Gaga coming to town".
I'll always remember Lady Gaga's readings at the local Methodist Hall last year. You could cut the air with a knife as her fans listened intently to the story of a poor one-legged wastrel girl who battled against overwhelming odds to become world famous as an entertainer.
Then there was Timeshift: The Smoking Years in which Stuart Maconie gave us probably the most evocative description possible of entering the smoky atmosphere of the upstairs on a double decker bus. "It was a blue fug of cigarette smoke...Like being in a foxhole in Vietnam".
Now I've been in a foxhole in Vietnam on one of my discovery holidays and let me tell you, those Vietnamese foxes smoke like troopers, one after the other.
Cross Country Couch
2 hours ago