This novel process, which produced much hilarious entertainment, resulted in some intriguing selections. The critics veered between slyly teasing choices (Philip Hook: Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog (Orange)), the most expense work of art by a modern artist at $58 million) to the solidly justified (Francine Stock’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Nicholas Kenyon, expected to choose a piece of music, plumped for Tom Stoppard's Arcadia. Robert McCrum was the wackiest of all: having evaluated the claims of a raft of novelists such as Jonathan Franzen and Zadie Smith, he pressed the claims of children’s literature in general and Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo in particular, parts of which he entertainingly read.
The audience suggestions brought the choices back somewhat towards the mainstream: The Sopranos, Angel of the North, The God Delusion, and a fourth choice that eludes me. The FINAL cut was 2:2 to audience and critics.
The final list: Arcadia, the Sopranos, Angel of the North and The Gruffalo. If the last choice seems surprising it was up against Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion – fiction triumphs over fact yet again.
My choices, three of which were argued in the debate and the fourth which has only just occurred to me , were: Mad Men; Santiago Calatrava’s architecture in general and the Centre for Arts and Science, Valencia, in particular; Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel and Chick Corea and Gary Burton’s Crystal Silence. It’s a shame no piece of music was seriously argued for.
Above all, it was fantastic entertainment and it made us think. What do you think? What are your choices?