If you’re not one of the lucky 25 percent of Australians who have cable TV you are missing out on what has to be the “must see” event of art television this year. The program is the simply titled Brian Sewell’s Grand Tour in which the UK’s poshest art critic retraces the steps of English nobility and their journey’s through France and Northern Italy in the 18th Century. The subject of the show is really just a vehicle for Sewell to hold forth on his favourite themes – naked boys, dirty boys and lascivious boys. Oh yes, and art and food.
Sewell is the art critic for the UK’s Evening Standard and champions an ultra-conservative, anti-populist view of art so old fashioned it has turned him into a cult figure. Although his hatred of modernity, conceptualism and contemporary art galleries doesn’t mark him out as unique, it’s his speaking voice that’s earned him a special place in the hearts of millions. Described as being “posher than the Queen” Sewell’s voice caresses and elongates vowels and crunches consonants into a syrupy monologue so fruity it should be bottled and marketed as vintage. Here’s a sample of the great man’s style from YouTube.
Such bombast, such incredible erudition – not to mention the most insane hand waving this side of Sister Wendy – has prompted a number of web sites in praise of Sewell’s talents. The best is undoubtedly Brian Sewell.co.uk and its handy Brian Sewell Sampler which takes audio clips and allows would-be art critics the chance to study his delivery. You might also end up with a serviceable “English” accent.