WHAT WE’RE SEEING: The Joy of Essex by Jonathan Meades

WHAT WE’RE SEEING

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Today is the last day to catch up on Jonathan Meades’ latest programme, The Joy of Essex, on BBC iPlayer. An idiosyncratic jumble of views of the county, Meades goes out to demonstrate that Essex, for all its stereotypes, cannot be defined. That there is a lot more to the county than meets the eye. Meades zones in on the 20th century creations in Essex, depicting it, for its closeness to London, as a social laboratory that can best been seen through its architectural ambitions at Bata-ville, Hadleigh Farm Salvation Army colony, Fritton-on-Sea and Gidea Park near Romford to name a few. Meades’ programme is not, however, as joyous as its title suggests. The film does not happily bumble along, but the county’s alleged weirdness is inherently bound up in the weirdness of the programme’s viewing. A niche but popular presenter, Meades is dry-witted and every spoken word counts. The filming takes this approach as well; architectural evidence is presented by almost perfectly still frames in glaring blue sky. Surreal and lifeless documentary filming, much like the county itself, no doubt, you will either love it or hate it. But is this a fair portrayal? View at: BBC iPlayer

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