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JG Ballard on ITV's South Bank Show

Author: • Sep 17th, 2006 •

Category: Ballardosphere, Chris Petit, Iain Sinclair, television

JG Ballard appeared on the South Bank Show on ITV in the UK on Sunday. There was a long interview with JGB conducted by Melvyn Bragg and filmed at Shepperton Studios, plus an overview of Ballard’s career, a discussion of Kingdom Come, and contributions from Martin Amis, Will Self, Iain Sinclair and Chris Petit. As of Monday 18th September, UK time, a podcast will be available of Ballard’s South Bank appearance.

The Amis/Self/Sinclair/Petit forward line is the standard attack — Ballard’s regular cheer squad, no less (missing only Alex Garland) — but personally I’d like to see these TV homages stretch out a bit more. Why not Ballard discussed by domantrices, RAF pilots, mechanics, architects, doctors, rugger players with stevedore arms, football hooligans, shopping mall general managers?


In any case, Ballard’s South Bank appearance was a bit of a surprise to long-time fans. In 1999, JGB was quoted in the Guardian as follows:

Most television is remarkably good, bearing in mind that it is a popular entertainment medium, but Melvyn Bragg poses a problem of his own making. The South Bank Show is a classic example of dumbing down: most television trivialises the already trivial, but the South Bank Show trivialises the serious, which is far more dangerous”.

To which Melvyn Bragg replied:

JG Ballard says that “The South Bank Show trivialises the serious”. I find this snobbish, offensive and depressing, particularly as I admire Ballard’s work and thought better of him. It’s also wrong. I think that a programme on UB40 is every bit as serious as a programme on Harold Pinter. We did both last season and neither was trivial.

If he has not seen them I would be happy to send him tapes of those two programmes, and from the same season, the programmes on Tony Harrison, John Tomlinson, Anish Kapoor, Lucy Gannon and the new South African choreographers. I am genuinely interested to know if he can tell me how any of those programmes fit his lazy smear. In Tony Harrison, for instance, there was a very long and detailed interview with the poet about his work: he read a great number of his poems and his verse film was also examined. Unless JG Ballard can prove his point, his comment stands as no more than a sad and sour little swipe”.

I’ve never liked UB40, myself…

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8 Responses »

  1. podcast available at itv.com/southbankshow as of monday

  2. if anyone has a video rip of this broadcast, please email this poor american: unhot@hotmail.com

    😉 thanks

  3. There’s a torrent available for this South Bank Show on uknova.com

    For those who don’t know it, UKNova deals exclusively with UK TV that isn’t commercially available, so it’s great for recent shows that you may have missed (or couldn’t see because you live outside the UK). You have to be a member, there’s a signup tool here:
    http://www.paulbain.co.uk/uknova/

  4. The torrent seems to have gone now from uknova. If anyone could possibly reseed it there, I would be hugely grateful.

  5. Also, does anyone know why the ITV podcast isn’t working at the moment? I keep getting a message in itunes saying the podcasts aren’t on the server…

  6. The torrents on UKNova only run for 28 days and are then removed. However, this one’s just been re-seeded.

    I think the South Bank Show podcast updates itself every week. I looked at the Ballard one just after transmission, and then tried to have a look a few days later to find it’d been replaced by the subject of the following episode.

  7. Yes, the UKNova torrent is working great at the moment – thanks, Paul. Also, the podcasts are working fine again now – they had access to about 6 shows last time I tried it, including video and audio-only versions of the Ballard interview.

  8. the south bank show (3 pts) is up at youtube. (i thought it was outstanding) here’s pt 1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E55vUH_Ppb0&feature=related

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