Greetings and welcome to another Thursday Television review and this week I have something slightly more intellectual from the BBC on Monday nights at 21:00 ‘How to be a bohemian‘ ably and eruditely presented by Victoria Coren Mitchell. This show is well produced and filmed and has a topic close to my heart ‘Bohemianism’ something I have always felt that I was living myself and given the views expressed it could be said that I was a Bohemian( I certainly have a laissez faire attitude to money), unlike the hipster douches of east London sorry Tarquin if you got a trust fund you ain’t no Bohemian no matter how flamboyantly you might dress. This being the first episode in the series Victoria introduces us to the history of the bohemians and the term itself, which was interestingly enough a term for gypsy as it was believed all gypsy’s came from Bohemia.
Starting in Paris in the 1800’s many artists and creatives(as we’d call them now) lived and worked mainly on the ‘Left bank’ of the Seine a cheaper place to live for the struggling creative and which is still home to the ‘Latin Quarter’ the location of Henri Murger’s famous work ‘La Vie de Boheme’ and this work is what Puccini created his now famous opera ‘La Boheme’ from. While originating in Paris Bohemianism spread the short hop north to London as well as in other directions with the likes of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood most notably William Micheal Rossetti who’s house in Chelsea is still there and sounds like they had a wild time wombats and zoo of animals. Victoria takes on a journey through all these events with amiable ease, showing us(me included) some of the hidden gems like the fountain for Rossetti and the gorgeous William Morris’s house. The talking head cast is celestial in it’s range from Stephen Fry to Grayson Perry and one of my favs Richard Cole as well as many others providing an insight by what some might say are the modern bohemians.
I found this to be not only entertaining but informative a truly difficult thing to accomplish in the world of TV, Victoria’s presentational style is welcoming and inclusive while still maintaining intellectual integrity, the holy grail of documentary presentation. If like me you have even a passing interest in art history or cultural history this show will give you that fix, on the other hand even if you have only heard of the modern Bohemian chic and think of it as a fashion style(which shows the gypsy roots) then this will enlighten and inform you as to the heritage of the style. In conclusion this is a marvelous show providing both humour and insight into a fascinating cultural term, well worth watching I look forward to the rest of the series and with that I’ll leave you with this nugget: “art is a barren route, of which glory is the Oasis”- Henri Murger