Age Of The Image
Never give away the secret of the trick —that’s what every young magician is taught. But telly has discovered how much fun there is to be had in revealing the sleight-of-hand.
Wildlife documentaries did it first, with ten-minute segments at the end of each episode that detailed the agonies endured over months by film crews in search of the perfect footage.
Now drama is exploring the technique, as murder-mystery maestros Jack and Harry Williams show us what we didn’t see during the first season of Liar (ITV).
Joanne Froggatt is pictured above as Laura Nielson, while Ioan Gruffudd is pictured as Andrew Earlham. The only pity is that we’ve had to wait so long to learn the secrets of Liar
Ioan Gruffudd stars in this psychological seaside thriller as a charismatic hospital surgeon, exposed as a rapist by one of his victims.
At the end of the six-part series in 2017, the body of Andrew Earlham turned up with his throat cut – lying in a muddy stream at the shoreline.
But viewers were left to guess at much of what happened, from the moment Earlham fled his house one step ahead of the police, to the discovery of his corpse.
We could never have known, for instance, that his first move was to break into a friend’s boat at a marina and spend the night lying low, planning his escape.
We saw, too, his very first meeting with teacher Laura, played by Joanne Froggatt with a charmless arrogance.
A two-and-a-half year gap makes it almost impossible to remember all the subtleties of the first series. James Flatters is pictured above as Luke Earlham
One of the dextrous twists of Liar is how Earlham remains likeable, even when we know what a monster he is — while his accuser is a cold, unsympathetic figure with a selfish streak.
Deft camera work adds to the sense of disorientation.
At one point the gum-chewing detective, DI Renton (Katherine Kelly), discovered a clue in Laura’s house. We couldn’t quite see what it was, as she bagged up the evidence.
Later, we discovered it was the dead man’s car key — incriminating, but not necessarily conclusive. There’s more sleight-of-hand to be explained yet.
The only pity is that we’ve had to wait so long to learn the secrets of Liar. This was such a complex story, with so many flashbacks, that keeping track of it all was hard enough at the time.
Never give away the secret of the trick —that’s what every young magician is taught. But telly has discovered how much fun there is to be had in revealing the sleight-of-hand. Joanne Froggatt is pictured as Laura Nielson, Danny Webb is seen as DS Rory Maxwell, and Katherine Kelly is pictured as DI Laura Renton
A two-and-a-half year gap makes it almost impossible to remember all the subtleties of the first series.
Art historian James Fox was revealing the sleight-of-hand in the cinematographer’s trade on Age Of The Image (BBC4).
Some of the techniques are simple ones we see on television every day, yet they are not obvious until someone points them out.
Scenes in a drama rarely start with a close-up, for instance. We see a couple of longer shots first, to establish where the action is.
And when a character is speaking, the camera never cuts from one side of the face to the other, left profile then right — that would make it look like the actor is talking to himself.
James had reels of these fascinating film facts to share as he traced the modern era’s obsession with the face in photographs, from the first movies to today’s glut of selfies.
One of the earliest was a self-portrait in a bath.
Scenes in a drama rarely start with a close-up, for instance. We see a couple of longer shots first, to establish where the action is
Jacques Henri Lartigue, a nine-year-old French boy, was so thrilled with his box Brownie camera in 1904 that he floated it on a wooden platform in the tub and gazed into the lens.
That could have ended in disaster. Instead, he captured a fantastic image of his own grinning face, bobbing on the surface of the water.
I’d never seen the photo before, and could not have guessed how it was taken.
It’s always exciting to realise how a trick is done.
Welcome return of the day: Hard to believe it’s ten years since Ainsley Harriott hung up his apron on Ready Steady Cook (BBC1).
Now the show’s back with permatanned Rylan Clark-Neal as host. He’s no chef but it really doesn’t seem to matter.