from Havana poverty to the Royal Ballet

The South Bank Show has been going for 44 years, and Melvyn Bragg shows few signs of weariness. He could have thrown in the towel when ITV cancelled the series back in 2010; instead he moved it to Sky Arts and continues to produce his unshowy, intelligent profile interviews. 

I prefer it to Alan Yentob’s Imagine strand, which does a similar thing but always with the sense that Yentob is interviewing a member of his own clique, and that their conversations are an extension of a dinner party chat. 

The South Bank Show: Carlos Acosta is the last in the current series. Acosta’s life story lends itself well to a biography such as this. Born into poverty on the outskirts of Havana, his father, Pedro, was a tough man who would beat him with the handle of a machete. One day Pedro saw a silent film featuring a ballet dancer and ordered his son, a talented breakdancer, to follow that path. As Acosta explained, with generosity:…

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