*”Prospero, Ariel, Reith And Gill
Thursday 10 October, 11.15am-12.00pm
BBC RADIO 4 EXTRA
Above the front door of the BBC’s Broadcasting House in London’s Portland Place is a statue by Eric Gill depicting Prospero and Ariel from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
When it was unveiled, concern was expressed about the size of Ariel’s genitalia. The story that the then-Director General Lord Reith ordered Gill to get up his ladder and do something about it has never been proven. But this little piece of BBC history is the starting point for Gary Brown’s 2010 comedy which playfully deals with the perennial tension between the Establishment and the Artist.
The strange and mysterious Gill contrasts with the authoritarian but often troubled figure of Reith. In the end, the sculpture focuses their thoughts on the role of art in life. While this is a comedy, the play also touches the well-documented darker side of both men’s nature.
The cast includes Anton (Game Of Thrones) Lesser as Gill and Tim (Blackadder) McInnerny as Reith.
4 Extra début. First broadcast on Radio 4 in June 2010.*
From Wikimedia Commons:
“When Jacob Epstein’s Day and Night (1928) at 55 Broadway were unveiled “the graphic nudity of the sculptures was just too shocking for Londoners in the 1920s. Newspapers started a campaign to have the statues removed and one company director even offered to pay the cost.
Frank Pick the managing director of London Underground at the time took overall responsibility and offered his resignation over the scandal. In the end, Epstein agreed to remove a couple of inches from the penis of the smaller figure on Day and ultimately the furore died down.”
From Italy Magazine, September 2009, on Michelangelo’s David (1504):
“There were no detractors, although the sponsor of the project, Piero Soderini did make a suggestion that was slyly dealt with by Michelangelo. Soderini commented that David’s nose was too thick, so Michelangelo climbed the scaffolding to attend to the problem.
The young sculptor pretended to alter the nose and even sprinkled marble dust to complete the effect. Michelangelo then asked Soderini for his opinion of the ‘new’ nose. ‘Ah, that’s much better,’, said Soderini. ‘Now you’ve really brought it to life.’ “