Jonathan Meades' TV programmes on architecture are always entertaining and distinctly personal, and the one being shown on BBC2 this coming Saturday, 29 April, at 10.30pm - Joe Building: The Stalin Heritage Trail - is among his best. The subject is what happened to Soviet architecture after the Modernist excitements of the early 1920s, when Stalin - 'glorious godfather of Post-Modernism' as Meades calls him - prescribed populism and monumentality as the way to go.
Some of Meades' past programmes have suffered from distracting visual gags, when what he really needs to do is just stand there and speak, for what he shows us and says is interesting enough. This new programme is less selfindulgent, and is full of good lines - Baroque is 'demob-happy Classicism'; garden cities are 'the sort of answer that turns its back on the problem'; while Stalin's schemes were hatched 'in the psychopathic playground of the Kremlin'. Meades' earlier programme, Jerry Building, on the 'unholy relics' of Nazi Germany, will be repeated on BBC2 on Wednesday 3 May at 11.20pm, and he has just -nished -lming a new series, whose topics include suburbia and architect Cuthbert Broderick (of Leeds Town Hall fame), which should be on TV before long ( www. jonathanmeades. com).
What happened to Modernism under dictators is a theme which the V&A's big Modernism show begins to explore but stops short - the section towards the end on Italy, for instance, is perfunctory. So it's a good moment for the RIBA to raid its photo archive for a 1930s show called Italian Modern at Max Mara, 19-21 Old Bond St, London W1, from 4-13 May (above is Pietro Lingeri's Amila clubhouse). John McAslan + Partners, architect of Max Mara's Italian HQ, is designing the exhibition ( www. architecture. com).
For anyone who missed the RIBA's -ne show of Czech Modernist architecture, one of the best things at 66 Portland Place for a long time, Scalo has published The New Vision for the New Architecture: Czechoslovakia 1918-1938 (£35).
All the photos from the exhibition are there, mostly well reproduced, with much more explanatory text than was possible at RIBA ( www. scalo. com).
For forthcoming events visit www. ajplus. co. uk/diary