GLUED TO THE BOX book cover   Glued to the Box
Television Criticism from the Observer 1979-82
Clive James

"Ten years and many Soap Operas ago our foremost television critic - Clive James - founded a column on the principles that humour, intelligence and style were the inalienable rights of his readers. Those who laughed and loved his two previous collectons - Visions Before Midnight and The Crystal Bucket will not be disappointed by this, his third and final collection from his decade at the Observer. He is as funny as ever" - Books and Bookmen
"Along with its two predecessors, it will stand as a once-only critical phenomenon: ten years' worth of high intelligence and wit." - The London Review of Books
"The funniest writer in Britain" - The Sunday Times
"Those who recall the standard set by his two previous volumes, Visions Before Midnight and The Crystal Bucket will not fail to be impressed by the undimmed vigour and panache of the writing, the vitality and freshness of the perception, the biting trenchancy of the humour. But they are bound, finally, to be heartened and encouraged by the enthusiasm for and commitment to the medium which has remained constant for a decade and which in itself provides some measure of the achievement of those years." - British Book News
"A third glittering selection." - Julian Barnes
"James reinvented the style of TV criticism. Described by Sheridan Morley as 'far and away the funniest writer in regular Fleet Street employment', James was the first critic to prostrate himself before the flow of the medium in all its manifestations. He admitted to himself and his readers, that for most is the frenzied commentary of Murray Walker and the uneasy elocution of Harry Carpenter are as important a part of TV as the most earnest offering from 'Play for Today' or 'The South Bank Show'. They do not, of course, hope to be regarded as 'art' but they are part of the same experience." - Time Out

All the Anthonys
Quite slim indeed
St Vitus's gospel
Sata and the Seed
Scoop it!
Face your dog
Ultimately and forever
Cold gold
Washed-up cat
Woodhouse walkies
Tanya talks Russian
Three famous, three high
Your brain's got it wrong
Nude bathing in Britain
Moral imagination
All fingers and toes
Oodnadatta Fats
How do you feel?
Master stroke
Someone shart JR
Idi in exile
Hrry Crpntr
Borg's little bit extra
Big-time Sue
There is no death
You tested the gyroscope?
A horse called Sanyo Music Centre
This false peace
Bottom of the sea
Bouquet of barbed haggis
Thank you, wow
Fast maggots
Donor kebab
Very lovely salver
Good lug
I am a tropical fish
Not psychic myself
Back in showbiz
Yes sir, that's my foetus
While the music lasts
Snow job
Mass in the crevasse
Ferry funny
Paint it yellow
The Colonels are nuts
Wedding announcement
Bovis and Basil
Whacky world of weather
Actual flow
Hail Columbia!
Steve doesn't smoke
Ho ho!
No kidding
Three dots for suspense...
Two goals down
Forbidden kiss
Them again
Dan's winning lob
Heavenly pink light
Wedding of the century
The Bagwash speaks
Lindi's built-in barbeque
Ideological intervention, man
Speer checks out
Hot pistils
Blinding white flash
Borgias on my mind
A man called Insipid
Signals from the void
More Borgias
Midwinter night's dream
Man of marshmallow
Noboby understands all
Rebarbative reverberations
Guardians of party orthodoxy
Terms of reference
Spirit of Bishop's Stortford
Make mine Minder
Rumpole recollects
Ernest Hemmingway Schopenhauer
Stop treading on the rug!
One last look

First Paragraph from the Introduction

With the last piece selected for this volume I complete a ten-year tour of duty as the Observer's television critic. Visions Before Midnight and The Crystal Bucket were the first and second volumes of selections from a column written almost every week during that period. This volume is the third and last. By the time it is published I will have moved on to other things, and probably started regretting that I ever walked away from such a cushy number. More and more often, as the years wore on, people who felt compelled to encourage me in the delusion that I was a hard-working and useful member of the community would ask me how I planned my viewing week. Wasn't it tiring, deciding what to watch and then sitting there watching it? Dutifully I would pretend that it was back-breaking labour, but neither I nor my interlocutor was ever fooled.

From the Picador paperback edition, 1983.

This page and its contents are copyright © 2000-02 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: January 2, 2002.