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Jonathan (Turner) Meades (born 21 January 1947, Salisburymarker, Englandmarker) is a Britishmarker writer on food, architecture, and culture, as well as an author and broadcaster. Meades was educated at the King's College, Tauntonmarker and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) c.1967.

He is an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Food writing

Meades has written reviews and articles for The Times for many years, and was specifically the restaurant critic of The Times newspaper between 1986 and 2001. He was voted Best Food Journalist in the 1999 Glenfiddich Awards. Having thrown in the napkin in 2001 after being the Times restaurant critic for 15 years in an interview with Restaurant magazine, Meades estimated that he put on 5 lb a year during his reviewing period, which works out around an ounce per restaurant. By his own admission in the series Meades Eats, after being pronounced 'morbidly obese' he subsequently managed to lose a third of his body weight over the course of a year.

Television work

He is well known to British television audiences for his series about architecture Abroad in Britain and its sequels Further Abroad with Jonathan Meades, Even Further Abroad With Jonathan Meades, Abroad Again in Britain and Abroad Again. These visually-innovative documentaries look at neglected forms of British architecture such as caravan parks and golf courses, and at the place that famous buildings hold in the British popular imagination. Meades' television work also includes two separate one-off documentaries about the architectural legacy of both the Third Reich, Jerry Building, and Stalin's Russiamarker, Joe Building.

Meades has also written and presented a documentary called Surreal Film (2001) for BBC Two (although the onscreen title was "tvSSFBM EHKL", the words encoded in appropriately surreal fashion), which sought to expound on surrealism in a manner that fitted the subject. Perhaps inevitably, given Meades' approach and his choice of topic, some found it bewildering and often psychedelic. However, it was nevertheless distinctive and humorous in a field often populated only by de rigueur and comme il faut offerings.

His latest full length series Jonathan Meades : Abroad Again was shown on BBC Two in May 2007. It uses his familiar style of jaunty camera angles often showing him from behind, going down escalators, sitting on walls or even not at all as he is walking away from the camera. He talks directly to the camera and often his speeches are split up from different angles or positions. There are times of silence or with only music where shots of the building he is talking about are shown. Equally he often uses scathing remarks to criticise other buildings such as an occasion when he refers to the Millennium Domemarker as a "Museum of Toxic Waste".
In 2008 a two-part documentary, Magnetic North, was screened by BBC Four. In the programme, Meades celebrates the culture of Northern Europe, and wonders why the North suffers in the popular imagination compared to the South. The programme features the expected stylistic flourishes and quirks of presentation now associated with the writer/presenter. It was subsequently re-edited into four half-hour episodes and shown on BBC Two.

A 9-DVD box set collecting his various Abroad... series was due for release in April 2008 but was then reduced to a 3-Disc "Best of..." due to licensing problems/expense of the music used in the programmes. Many of Meades's documentaries can be found on Youtube.

In 2008 Meades penned the introduction to the London Books reissue of the James Curtis 1938 novel about truckers and low-life They Drive By Night.

Published works

  • This is Their Life (1979) ISBN 0-86101-045-0
  • The Illustrated Atlas of the World's Great Buildings (1980) ISBN 0-86101-059-0
  • Filthy English (1984) ISBN 0-224-02145-1 (Short stories)
  • English Extremists (Blueprint Monographs) (1988) ISBN 0-947795-68-5
  • Peter Knows What Dick Likes (1989) ISBN 0-586-20148-3
  • Pompey (1993) ISBN 0-09-930821-5
  • Architectural Expressions (2001) ISBN 0-471-49667-7
  • "The Times" Restaurant Guide 2002 ISBN 0-304-35939-4
  • Incest and Morris Dancing (2002) ISBN 0-304-35938-6
  • The Fowler Family Business (2002) ISBN 1-85702-904-6

TV works

  • The Victorian House (1986) Channel 4
  • Abroad in Britain with Jonathan Meades (1990) BBC Two
  • Further Abroad with Jonathan Meades (1994) BBC Two
  • Jerry Building — Unholy Relics of the Third Reich (1994) BBC Two
  • Without Walls: J'Accuse — Vegetarians (1995) Channel 4
  • Even Further Abroad with Jonathan Meades (1996) BBC Two
  • Heart By-Pass, Jonathan Meades in Birmingham (1998) BBC Two
  • Travels with Pevsner (1998) BBC Two
  • Queen Victoria died in 1901 but is alive and well today! (2001) BBC Two
  • Surrealism (2001) BBC Knowledge
  • Pevsner Revisited (2001) BBC Four
  • Meades Eats (2003) BBC Four
  • Abroad Again in Britain (2005) BBC Four
  • Joe Building: The Stalin Memorial Lecture (2006) BBC Four
  • Abroad Again (2007) BBC Two
  • Jonathan Meades: Magnetic North (2008) BBC Four
  • Jonathan Meades: Off Kilter (2009) BBC Four


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