Grayson Perry reveals the Full English
Grayson Perry’s Full English (Channel 4, 9pm)
Arise, Sir Grayson…
Despite claiming he’s “not quite ready” for it, the cross-dressing ceramicist was awarded a knighthood in the New Year’s honours list for his services to the arts, something he claims he was never tempted to turn down because, “I’ve always been very much of the opinion that it’s more interesting to be inside the tent and you can have more fun.”
But what will he wear when he receives his award? If it’s a plain old suit, his fans are going to be very disappointed indeed.
For many, their first experience of the Essex-born star came when he was named as the winner of 2003’s Turner Prize, a ceremony he attended in the guise of his alter ego Claire. Some were shocked, others raised their eyebrows or were amused, while the rest probably couldn’t have cared less – his fabulously outlandish garb was perhaps more proof, if it was needed, that artistic types are also often eccentric.
Twenty years on from that headline-hitting event, Perry is regarded as a national treasure thanks in no small part to the series of documentaries he’s made for Channel 4, as well as his much-loved Art Club programme, which also features his wife, psychotherapist Philippa Perry, their celebrity friends and creative members of the public. It proved inspirational to many viewers during lockdown and continues to be hugely popular – here’s hoping it won’t be long before another run is heading our way.
Now Perry – or should we be addressing him as Sir Grayson? – is back with a new three-part series in which he takes a tour of England in search of the true meaning of ‘Englishness’.
“The last time Grayson went on the road for a Channel 4 series, it was to try and understand the complex mood and tribes of America,” explains Shaminder Nahal, Commissioning Editor at Channel 4. “Now, closer to home, he’ll be getting under the skin of the English at a moment where our identity politics seem more in flux than ever.
“With Grayson’s utterly distinctive take, the series promises to be genuinely eye-opening and entertaining.”
“With all the talk about identity these days I thought it would be a good time to look at one shared by over 80 per cent of the UK population: Englishness,” adds Perry. “What is Englishness in 2022? The Scots, the Welsh and the Irish seem to be more comfortable with feelings around national identity. I’m criss-crossing the country trying to weave a picture that helps us understand who the English are.”
During each programme, Perry goes in search of the objects, art, design, fashion, personal mementoes, family heirlooms and pieces of popular culture which have helped shape England’s national identity. He’ll then showcase them in an exhibition which will also feature his own interpretation of Englishness.
He begins in Kent, where he meets Druids and a man who looks out for immigrants making their way to Dover. Plus, Pearl Lowe and her musician husband Danny Goffey discuss their love of faded glamour.
It’s surely the perfect task for a brand new knight of the realm.