Television review – The Guardian, 26 September 1988

Dangermen at work

Campaign! (Channel 4)

The television's first tussle with politicians was to try to stop them talking. In Campaign! (Channel 4), General Eisenhower's news-media adviser told how he devised a flashing podium which, as Ike got into his mind-numbing stride, flashed: "Get off now! Get off now!" You can say this much for professional soldiers: they respond to unequivocal orders. Hubert Humphreys was "genetically incapable of giving a less than seven-minute answer to anything" and a young Nixon was cut off like a gas fire: "The time purchased for this programme has now elapsed".

It was the end of oratory. Television, of course, is allowed to go on as long as it likes: Campaign was a two-hour account of the hurly-burly in the double bed as politicians and television struggled for a larger share of the blanket.

Roger Ailes, yet another news-media adviser, said: "When I was small, Harry Truman came to my home town on the back of a train and everybody swarmed down to see him ride through, then went home and voted for him because they knew Harry," and entirely failed to keep the yearning out of his voice. The man he advises about television is George Bush, whom the foremost cartoonist in America is drawing as an invisible man.

Television preview – City Limits, 21 September 1988

Campaign! – 40 Year of American Presidential Elections

...Absolutely extraordinary, particularly the witty use of clips: Nixon's Checkers speech, Sidney Lumet's 'Power', Chevy Chase as Ford, etc.

To BFI Film + TV database To BBC Online David Ash, producer-director

Television documentaries by British programme maker David Ash

Contact:  send mail