Shooting the Past
[ Issue 41 ]

Shooting the Past really turns Emily Bronto on

Bikwil is pleased to present Shooting the Past

Shooting the Past

Fizzgig is pleased to learn that a recent piece of classic British TV drama is now available in the shops.

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From the Back Verandah — Fizzgig


I was delighted recently to learn that the BBC’s 1999 production of Shooting the Past is available on VHS and DVD.

(The good news for Australian audiences is that there is also a repeat screening this summer on ABC TV.)

This magnificent made-for-TV series was written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff. On the face of it, the drama tells the story of the conflict between a wealthy American businessman and a group of librarians. He is planning to dispose of a collection of ten million priceless photographs housed in a mansion he has just bought. The librarians are the collection’s custodians and they want to preserve it intact, so they attempt several strategies to thwart his intentions.

But under the surface story Poliakoff is presenting us with several important messages. One is the value of libraries and the staff who run them, know them and love them. Economic progress may be a good thing, but often it threatens the preservation of the world’s heritage.
Even more significant is the idea of — to quote the words of a friend of mine — “making discoveries about mysterious, profound meanings from the past”. (If that description itself sounds a bit mysterious to those of you who’ve not seen Shooting the Past yet, I’m sorry, but I don’t want to give away vital parts of the plot.)

The stars are Lindsay Duncan as the library curator Marilyn Truman, Liam Cunningham as the businessman Christopher Anderson, and Timothy Spall as the eccentric Oswald Bates, Truman’s chief researcher. As always, character actor Spall gives a wonderful performance.

As far as I’m concerned, Shooting the Past ranks up there with those other classic British television dramas Talking to a Stranger (1966) and Edge of Darkness (1985). So, wherever you live, if you haven’t experienced this TV treat, take my advice and buy or borrow it post-haste.

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