IVAN METHUSELAH (21° October 1944 - 22° October 2014) was an AVW journalist from 2001 to his death in 2014. Born in Bath, his father was a Jewish refugee from Danzig and his mother managed three grocers' shops (White's) inherited from her father. The family was the first in their street to own a television set, though Ivan had already developed an interest in the moving image through childhood trips to the local picture house. In 1959, at the age of 15, Ivan began his journalistic career with an apprenticeship at the Keynsham Courier. He moved onto the staff of the Bristol Herald in 1962.
In 1972, Ivan met Hela Czerwińska, a Polish biologist and visiting scholar at the University of Bristol. The two had a daughter, Irene. Hela returned to Poland with Irene in 1976, and was later part of the dissident Polish Flying University. Ivan lost contact with Hela and Irene in 1981.
It is assumed that Hela and Irene's departure in 1976 was a contributory factor towards Ivan losing his job at the Bristol Herald that same year. He soon managed to find employment with the Cardiff Reporter but disliked working there, and in 1979 he moved north, taking a job at the Rotherham Recorder. In 1983 he submitted a review of Return of the Jedi to a local fanzine, and this was seen by the Recorder's editor, John Schofield, who was impressed with the writing and asked Ivan to shadow the syndicated film column they currently used at the paper. Schofield was happy with the trial and from early 1984 Ivan's film reviews became a regular feature for the Recorder. Ivan also contributed to television, theatre and concert reviews, and received a good deal of support early on for his enthusiastic and carefully scathing commentaries from miners' benefit performances. By the time his photograph was appearing on his by-line he had already curated his trademark large white beard and thick-framed glasses.
In 1992, Ivan published his first book: After Endor. Now considered a landmark in textual analysis, it is perhaps best summed up by the following excerpt:
The events in the final reel of Return of the Jedi leave us in no doubt as to the fate of the Sanctuary Moon of Endor: the detonation of an immense space-station in a low orbit, and the sort of 'fireworks' we see during the celebrations spell nothing short of an Ewok holocaust... In omitting to show this carnage, Lucas and his directors are making an editorial decision which casts the Rebels as heroic victors, but the truth is almost certainly far more complicated... the decision to end at this particular point of celebration, when there is much unresolved both in the present location and in the wider Galaxy is a political decision: we view these events through the prism of propaganda... If the Star Wars trilogy is a documentary cut in the interests of the Rebellion, even the backstory crawls cannot be trusted and so it is that we must ask ourselves "is this Evil Empire really so?"
2001 saw Ivan's first involvement with AVW when A/V Woman Productions published Ivan's second book: Buffy the Homicidal Maniac, an exploration of the value of life and the nature of death in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Then in October of that year he joined the AView editorial staff in the role he would occupy until his death.
In 2003 Ivan was diagnosed with a benign but inoperable tumour, the first effect of which was to reduce his bladder capacity beyond the length of most films. This was a great frustration to Ivan, who dubbed the tumour Margaret (after Margaret Thatcher, and with reference to Dennis Potter's Rupert). He shifted his energies to TV reviews, and in 2004 he embarked upon his much-celebrated Digi-Box Rationbook project which he ran for six years before Margaret put a stop to that too. Ivan continued to engage with AView as much as health would allow (including collaborations with Aidan Ross: Racing News and The Library of News), and he presented a series of programmes on ATV, including arts magazine The Foyer, film-club strand Early Cinema and the award-winning TV-criticism show Boxed In. Throughout his time at AVW he was also part of the AView Eurovision Jury.
2012 was not a good year for Ivan. It began with the death of his cat, Lauren (after Lauren Laverne), who had been regularly namechecked in his columns. He said that television died that same year (although he was referring to digital switchover rather than ennui). It was also in 2012 that Ivan's tumour became malignant, and he was told not to expect to make his 70th birthday.
But like his Biblical namesake, Ivan Methuselah was intent upon living longer than might be considered usual under the circumstances. Six months prior to his 70th birthday he set up a Twitter account subtitled "Ivan Methuselah has six months to live tweet", and he was determined to see two things before he would accede to death: enjoy his birthday and make it to the end of the first Capaldi series of Doctor Who. He managed the former in a small celebration with friends, after which, at 10:39pm, he tweeted "Doctor Who seems a lot better this year." He died the following afternoon with three episodes left in the series.
When asked for his favourite film, Ivan famously replied: "well it's Citizen Kane but I usually tell people it's Watership Down to sound more interesting."