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Return to Betjemanland

Thirty years ago, Sir John Betjeman died and was buried at St Enodoc Church, close to the village of Tribetherick in north Cornwall.
To commemorate Betjeman's death the writer, critic and biographer of Betjeman, AN Wilson, visits the real and imagined places that shaped his life to reveal the life and work of the poet and broadcaster.

Wilson explores how Betjeman came to speak to, and for, the nation in a remarkable way. As a poet Betjeman was writing popular verse for the many, not the few. With his brilliant documentaries for television, Betjeman entertained millions with infectious enthusiasm as he explained his many passions and bugbears.

As a campaigner to preserve the national heritage, Betjeman was tireless in his devotion to conservation and preservation, fighting the planners, politicians and developers - railing against their abuse of power and money.

Wilson investigates this by visiting locations in London, Oxford, Cornwall, Somerset and Berkshire. He travels through a landscape of beautiful houses and churches, beaches and seaside piers - a place that Wilson calls Betjemanland.

In doing so he also reveals the complexity and contradictions of Betjeman - how Betjeman, the snob with a love of aristocrats and their country houses, is the same person who is thrilled by the more proletarian pleasures of the Great British seaside; how the poetry of Betjeman shows us that he is haunted by childhood memory, has religious faith but also doubt and is in thrall to love and infatuation; and how the man his friends called Betjeman was full of joie de vivre, but also suffered great melancholy and guilt whilst living an agonised double life.

1 hour

Last on

Fri 5 Sep 2014 01:40

Credits

Role Contributor
PresenterAN Wilson
ProducerAlastair Laurence
DirectorAlastair Laurence
Executive ProducerMichael Poole

Featured in...

John Betjeman Collection

BBC Four Betjeman Collection

Rediscover the documentaries that made Betjeman a much-loved figure on British television

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