by Forbes Taylor
As an introduction to the early days of commercial TV in Britain you'd be hard-pressed to find a more jaunty, detailed, revealing, enjoyable text than this. Hailed as "a genius" by the Sunday Express, after directing his first movie at 21 (move over, Orson), he worked for Korda, filmed action sequences for Richard Greene's Robin Hood ("Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, Dum, dum, dum the night"), pioneered archaeology programmes on TV, and was among the first British producers to experiment with US-UK co-productions. But, as he writes, "high fame and fortune eluded me". Luckily his very good humour never deserted him, and this book is full of anecdote and pithy opinion: The Red Shoes - according to Martin Scorsese one of the ten best movies ever made - is "a travesty... Mills & Boon... [full of] ham-acting". Forbes told me himself that Powell - Hitchcock too - "had no idea how to direct people".
Forbes was Head of Documentaries at Anglia TV; if you're interested in early TV read this memoir. He has also written a novel, A Lover's Guide to Armageddon. about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand at Sarajevo. Very de nos jours, and suggestive of a delicious conspiracy theory (Forbes is very partial to a conspiracy theory).