It’s not too often I’m compelled to urge people to watch a TV show, I tend to do it more with films or dvd box sets but I shall make an exception after seeing what will probably end up being my televisual highlight of the year. The show in question was Rich Hall’s The Dirty South (BBC4, 12/07/10) which set out to prove that Hollywood’s depictions of the American South throughout the years are wide of the mark in many cases. Attempting to disprove the notion that the South can be easily catergorised by the three R’s – rednecks, racism and religion, this programme was not just insightful, it was very funny thanks to Hall‘s pieces to camera which were crammed with wit and polemic while all the time remaining informative. I doubt if anyone will be as consistently funny as a presenter of a show this year.

With the work of novelists and playwrights such as  Erskine Caldwell, Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner all coming under the spotlight it would have been easy to film a whole show simply on the literature that has come from the south and how it has been depicted on the big screen but with the inclusion of other films set there and the music created there this really was quality television. Add to that Hall’s guiding and sardonic presenting style and the show was the complete package. I’m not sure how often this programme will be repeated but it’s currently on the BBC iPlayer here and I’m sure it will pop up on YouTube at some point. I would certainly hope for a DVD release although I’m not sure if one will be forthcoming.

I could easily fill up half a page with superlatives and adjectives concerning The Dirty South but I shall wrap up on the following nugget. It’s not often I laugh out loud when watching something on my own but I did on various occasions none more so than when inside Sun Studios in Memphis and in front of the famous photo, Hall commented “Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins in the same picture,”. Quickly followed by “If you were a religious scholar, that would be the equivalent of Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and Carl Perkins in the same picture.” Priceless.

Image – metro