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Imagine: Simon and Garfunkel: the Harmony Game

Fri Jan 25, 9.30-10.45pm, BBC4

The Art Garfunkel of 2011 may recast it as joking around, and today’s Paul Simon as growing apart artisically, but footage of the all-conquering pair during the making of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ shows two guys who just hated each other, withering aside following dismissive putdown. Even now, they’re interviewed separately, but are gracious and generous in their praise for each other. This superior take on the ‘Classic Albums’ approach forensically examines the construction of the songs on the global smash, which involved one or two impressively ambitious sonic experiments and, in one case, a terrified octogenarian security guard. But it also takes time to examine a bold but badly timed TV special called ‘Songs of America’, in which director Charles Grodin (later to star in ‘Midnight Run’), used the duo’s hits to draw a distinctly unflattering portrait of the nation. Such East Coast liberalism went down poorly with Nixon’s silent majority, and it was smashed in the ratings by an ice-skating show. An empty, aching America indeed.