Normally I don't take issue with pedants who criticise production values of films and television, possibly because it's usually me being annoying by shouting at the black box in the corner. But I'm going to make an exception with that renowned cinematographer Alastair Campbell. Yes that one, who presumably directs film photography when he's not Tippexing documents. Missing the point by the length of a focus puller's tape measure, he complains in a 'tweet' about BBC's Wolf Hall that he's: "Not entirely persuaded by the lighting strategy". By which we must take it to mean that he, and the other critics who live their lives in everlasting sunlight, can't see the night interiors properly because they're shot using just candles. Which funnily enough is how it was all those years ago Alastair. Stanley Kubrick did the same thing with NASA lenses to shoot Barry Lyndon interiors, and that probably hasn't been bettered until Peter Kosminsky's production. Wolf Hall is stunning television, one we will remember for years, long after the Broadchurches have been stacked in the remainder bin. Of course it's not faultless, (pity about propane gas fires instead of the real thing), but it very nearly is.
So, having got that out, I may as well tell you two other things that have recently made me shout out intemperately. Over on the other side as it were, I have to look away everytime anyone gets on a train in Downton Abbey. For all the correct cutlery and meticulous positioning of butler's trays they would still like us to believe that they travel southwards from northern Yorkshire by the Southern Railway. Of course we in Unmitigated England know why. It's because the Bluebell Line's Horsted Keynes station is so much nearer to Downton's Highclere Castle location than anything up north. And then, nearly finished, there's that Routemaster bus that kept coming round the corners and passing at the end of streets of late forties 'London' in the otherwise excellent last episodes of Foyle's War. But then, they tried very hard to make us think that Dublin was London as well.
Photo of the mesmerising Mark Rylance: BBC / Company Productions Ltd
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012), Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012) and English Allsorts (Adelphi 2015)
"Open this book with reverence. It is a hymn to England". Clive Aslet
"Enchanting...delightful". The Bookseller "Cheekily named" We Love This Book
The Cigarette Papers
"Unexpectedly pleasing and engrossing...beautifully illustrated". The Bookseller
"Until the happy advent of Peter Ashley's Cross Country it has, ironically, been foreigners who have been best at celebrating Englishness". Christina Hardyment / The Independent
More from Unmitigated England
"Give this book to someone you know- if not everyone you know." Simon Heffer, Country Life. "When it comes to spotting the small but telling details of Englishness, Peter Ashley has no equal." Michael Prodger, Sunday Telegraph