Bauhaus Rules, BBC Four

Although design shows cover the TV schedules like a rash, BBC Four doesn’t normally trouble itself with them – unless, of course, they tick the right boxes and deal with the right sort of design. Bauhaus, the short-lived but massively influential art school founded in Weimar in Germany in 1919, ticks every BBC Four box imaginable, from art history to politics to gender studies, so where else in the schedule are you going to drop an evening of erudite programmes devoted to it and its legacy?

With first a documentary about Anni Albers, one of the most prominent of the female Bauhaus alumni, and then a second about the broader movement, it all landed with an appropriately weighty thud. Leavening the mix, however, was the third of the evening's programme, and this one did have something in common with the design shows on the mainstream channels. Formatted as a reality-style show, Bauhaus Rules found Jim Moir, aka Vic Reeves, giving a bunch of art school graduates a crash course in all things Bauhaus and then asking them to apply what they had learned to the creation of a series of art works. In one sense it was heartening that the sense of play the Bauhaus instilled in its students is still a factor in modern art school practice. On the other hand you had to wonder at the admission by one that she had never been in a dark room before and by another that in her own work function followed form rather than the other way around, as the Bauhaus luminaries taught.

The bemused students started by practising special breathing techniques and coming together for a communal meal at which something called “garlic moosh” was served “It’s like you go to art school and you get there and you find out you’ve joined a monastery,” quipped Moir. Then they set to work dragging rubbish from a skip for the initial challenge, though first they had to be blindfolded so they could commune with their trash using just touch and smell. Think MasterChef but with bubble wrap and steel wool instead of duck breasts and beetroot foam. It all ended with a Bauhaus-style costume ball themed around metal. The students also had to dress the space and take part in the Bauhaus dance, which involved grooving without touching while leaping up and down and stamping their feet. Moir, never one to miss a chance to indulge in a surrealist flight of fancy, dressed as a sort of grizzled tinfoil wizard.

Coming after an hour and a half hour of enlightening if po-faced documentaries it was hard to know if Bauhaus Rules was intended as the main event – Moir/Reeves is a bona fide TV legend after all – or simply as a sort of postprandial diversion. Either way its oddness certainly suited the subject: in other words form and function here went hand in hand.