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Philip Larkin – Love And Death In Hull (Channel 4 2003, Dave Hill)

Love and Death in Hull

Intriguing documentary Love And Death In Hull was a profile of one of Britain’s best known poets. Philip Larkin’s poems about the human condition are still seen as quintessential pointers, he was all too often seen as something of a pessimist with his work often dealing with decay, dying and sorrow, but he was also seen as something of a rye commmentator on relationships. Larkin never married and worked as a librarian for most of his adult life.

The doco featured contributions from the likes of A.N. WiIlson, Martin Amis, Jonathan Raban, former girlfriends, the poet Andrew Motion (who authored a biography of Larkin), most seem to agree that Larkin was incapable of love and was at heart, deeply selfish. There was also lots of emphasis on his affairs and his unwillingness to commit to a serious relationship as well as some interesting points about how Larkin’s father was a pro-Hitler sympathiser and even took Philip to Germany twice in the late 1930’s.

Archive footage of Larkin himself is rare and most of what appears here is from the 1964 Monitor documentary he made in collaboration with John Betjeman.

production details
UK / Channel Four / 1×60 minute episode / Broadcast 6 July 2003 @ 8.00pm

Executive Producers: Nicolas Kent, Vanessa Phillips / Producer and Director: Ian MacMillan

Narrated by Alison Steadman / Poems read by James Wilby / Letters read by Philip York / Philip Larkin played by Dave Hill