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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009
    Drivetime next week
    BBC Four is currently treating insomniacs to repeats of Michael Smith's personal journey from hometown Hartlepool out through the land, in search of modern national identity, Citizen Smith. This must be to prepare the public for a new documentary series, Michael Smith's Drivetime, which starts next week. In which Smith takes a look at roads and what they do to us.

    As I blogged last year, I might be in this programme, though I'm not holding my breath as (you may remember from the blog), it was so wet on the day we filmed (some dead roads outside Huddersfield) that the camera let in water and had to be dried out by the car's heater while we retreated, dripping, to a caff in Lindley. Plus what I said might well have been rubbish. We'll see.

    But regardless of any cameo from yours truly, Drivetime should be worth a look. Smith is like no other documentary maker. Their informal style makes his programmes look amateurish but they're far from it. There's a lot of integrity in their trademark series of encounters and conversations with people Michael has had no previous knowledge of, thus carries no preconceptions about. Not to mention risk-taking. It requires some skill to think on your feet, on location. It's hit and miss, but the Citizen Smith episodes usually seemed to hit... something, some spot of insight, difficult truth, even inspiration. Hopefully Drivetime will do the same.

    BBC iPlayer screenshot from Citizen Smith #2: London