It can’t hurt. Of that much I can be sure.
November 27, 2019 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Three very different deaths were announced today in the UK. First came TV chef Gary Rhodes, arguably the originator of the modern British TV chef as we know it, and only 59 when he died. Then came news that Jonathan Miller had died at the age of 85. Incredibly widely talented, he was still a practising doctor when he started appearing on the stage. Finally came new that Clive James had died aged 80, robbing us of his high-impact comic phrasing.

You probably need to be British and of a certain age to have felt the impact of all three, but all made a big contribution to their fields. Clive James faced up to his impending death with some brilliant poetry, from which the title of this post comes.

Jonathan Miller moved seamlessly from comedy to directing, as well as making some striking documentaries.

Gary Rhodes secured his first Michelin star at the age of 26, and for better or worse gave us Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay.
posted by YoungStencil (14 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:12 AM on November 27, 2019

posted by Quasirandom at 12:07 PM on November 27, 2019

I am so sad about Clive James. This is from Japanese Maple, another poem he wrote in anticipation of his death:

My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.
Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.
What I must do
Is live to see that.That will end the game
For me, though life continues all the same:

Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,
A final flood of colors will live on
As my mind dies,
Burned by my vision of a world that shone
So brightly at the last, and then was gone.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 12:12 PM on November 27, 2019 [13 favorites]


Clive James especially. I knew he'd been trying to get back to Australia for the last few years to die there, but no carrier would take him in his condition. Not just that sarcastic fella from the telly, but an immensely talented writer. Read some of his later poems, and you'll make that ugly snort-cry noise: the kind arising from interruption by humour while finding the room getting remarkably dusty.
posted by scruss at 12:20 PM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

ALeaflikeStructure - that is beautiful. To be able to write that and describe Arnold Schwarzenegger as looking like "a condom full of walnuts" is a rare talent.
posted by YoungStencil at 12:56 PM on November 27, 2019 [5 favorites]

James wrote that poem 5 years ago. So he got to see that flame, and then some.
posted by chavenet at 1:17 PM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

posted by lalochezia at 2:15 PM on November 27, 2019

Here is Clive James reading Japanese Maple
posted by chavenet at 2:47 PM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Clive James in The Observer (along with Nancy Banks Smith in The Guardian) was one of the creators of the style of television journalism - his reviews were published as books and remain hugely readable nearly fifty years after the programmes he's talking about were broadcast.

His autobiographies are often hilarious and highly recommended, though it took a while before I realised through the pseudonyms that the friends he mentions from his youth include Barry Humphries, Germaine Greer and Bruce Beresford.

Clive James on Television 14th August 1988
Clive James Postcard series
Beware of the Beautiful Stranger by Pete Atkin, lyrics by Clive James.

Jonathan Miller remained oddly beloved in the UK for someone so unashamedly, effortlessly intellectual.

Whistle and I'll Come to You
The Body in Question
Miller's fairly radical recontextualisation of The Mikado - Act I, Act II, Documentary.
A Brief History of Disbelief

Clive James interviews Jonathan Miller

Clive James and Jonathan Miller really deserve a post each. I honestly don't know anything about Gary Rhodes other than the hair, which I suppose is long gone.
posted by Grangousier at 2:51 PM on November 27, 2019 [10 favorites]

posted by Mister Bijou at 4:28 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

And yet, within about a minute of starting that interview, James and Miller are discussing farting.

My kind of intellectuals. I miss them.
posted by scruss at 5:30 PM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

posted by asok at 5:43 PM on November 27, 2019

Gary Rhodes was the first guy to really talk up British cooking - at least at the haute/restaurant level. As such everyone got their schtick from him - your Ramsays, your Hestons, your Kerridges etc.
posted by treblekicker at 5:54 AM on November 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

Clive James and Jonathan Miller have a kind of complementary relationship in my mind - both quite big TV influences on me as a young person but with James I came to him as the guy who did the funny shows about TV and only later realised how smart a critic and writer he was. Miller helped demystify intellectual topics in a very effortless way and I only later knew about him being part of Beyond the Fringe and that circle of comedians and actors.
posted by crocomancer at 5:59 AM on November 28, 2019

« Older might have been a very late ice-age wolf   |   In the mouse world, Europe is still divided in... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments