The English were always Philistines, Sir Roy!
Sir Roy Strong, eminent English historian and former director of Victoria and Albert Museum in London, has ridiculed television programme ‘I'm a celebrity... Get me out of Here!' in a recent article in ‘The Daily Mail'.
"It made we feel utterly ashamed to be British", he lamented. For those of you lucky enough not to know what this programme is about, let me explain. It chooses a number of celebrities and puts them in an artificial situation. In latest series they were dropped in Australian jungle and put through a number of ordeals such as having insects poured on their heads! As always there was a mixture of personalities with emphasis on young people of opposite sex being together. These could be relied on to use bad language, take off most of their clothes or even have sex.
Sir Roy deplores that "the country of Purcell, Shakespeare, Isaac Newton and Winston Churchill had sunk so low. It's not just that so many people watched ‘I'm a Celebrity' (14 million) and vacuous behaviour of its victims, but that they actually gloated over such puerile antics in their homes."
Although Sir Roy Strong is an eminent historian, it is difficult to understand his surprise at 14 million people gloating over this gibberish. When he refers to "the country of Purcell, Shakespeare, Isaac Newton" you have to giggle. When did majority of English show any interest or love of Shakespeare (endured at school by majority) or classical music of Purcell or scientific theories of Newton? Anyone with any acquaintance with English people will know that these are interests of few, even elite.
This is precisely problem. On one hand we have an elite who enjoy these cultural pursuits, and on other vast majority who are glued to their televisions watching ‘I'm a Celebrity' or soap operas such as ‘Eastenders'. However, as an historian I am sure Sir Roy is aware of origin of this problem in educational system at end of Victorian period.