TV Highlights

The Secret World of Lewis Carroll

BBC Two - 9pm

Who's in it?

Martha Kearney went well and truly down the rabbit hole last night, to explore the genesis of one of the most bewitching tales of all time.

In a nutshell

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a stone-cold classic, and not in the way other books are classics – ie, belovedly unread by the masses. No, the saga of the girl who enters a surreal netherworld populated with dodos, talking playing cards and homicidal monarchs is very much alive in our pop culture, constantly reinvented (cartoons, 3D action movies, gothic operas) and giving us iconic phrases and imagery. So how did it all spring from the mind of a seemingly unassuming, straightlaced cleric called Charles Dodgson? This programme sought to explore the evolution from Dodgson the vicar to Lewis Carroll the visionary writer, bringing in the views of experts as well as celebrity fans like Richard E Grant and Philip Pullman. There was also much made of the real-life inspiration for the heroine – Alice Liddell – and fascinating analysis of the Victorian era’s idealisation of children.

What's the verdict?

Just when we thought there was very little new to say about one of the most retold stories of all time, this programme comes along to put us right. It’s a fitting tribute to the magical tale on the 150th anniversary of its publication.

Star rating: 5/5

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07-07-2011