What better way to while away a cool July evening than to sit huddled round a video dreaming of warmer places? Well I can think of several but. if none oflhose options is available. here are some videos that are.
I BOYCOTT'S GREATEST ENGLAND TEAM (PG) ‘l've made it patently clear. . .' Mr Popularity himself, consented to choose some others whose cricketing style appealed to him. However. alter it was pointed out that ten more were needed to make a team. he came up with some of the finest batsmen and bowlers to play Test cricket for England since 1964. His chosen clips contain some classic cricketing moments as do the compilations That Man Botham, and The Best of the Ashes 1970—87 which are released simultaneously. (Video Collection, £9.99) I BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY (18) 108 mins. Michael J. ‘Back to the Future' Fox is
the distressed young professional who turns to booze and drugs for solace alter his mother dies and his wile walks out on him. Eventually. through the help of a compassionate colleague and new girl-friend (Tracy Pollan) he manages to pull out olthe nose-dive and set a more level course again. Though the main protaganist looks like he's nevertouched anything the wrong side of aspirin. Fox works hard at throwing off his ‘nice-guy' image and at least succeeds in altering lt. (Warner Home Video. £9.99)
I SCOOP Young William Boot sets off to town in search of a desk lob only to be catapulted into Africa as a war correspondent. Oenholm Elliott. Michael Horden. Michael Morley and Donald Pleasence star in LWT‘s magnificently opulent version of Evelyn Waugh's newspaper satire. all packaged up in one feature-length version. (Video Collection, £9.99) I SWITCHING CHANNELS (PG) 104 mins. A flat.19BB. remake of The Front Page with Kathleen Turner and Burt Reynolds as a pale imitation of the great Lemmon/Mathau partnership. The stars blunder through with some neat gags as Reynolds tries to keep his hotshot reporter and ex-wlfe away from the eminently sensible Christopher Reeve.
I JACKLIH VOLUME 2 Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the golf course - Jacklin 2 The Revenge. The real danger is that you smash up your sitting room with a seven iron as you concentrate on emulating his swing. (Video Collection. £9.99)
l _ The evening rambler
Alistair Cook reveals at the Radio Academy Festival that his favourite book is called The Statistical Abstract ofthe United States ofAmerica, leading Matt Thompson. BBC producer. to conclude there is not much difference, after all, between those who sell radio and those who make it.
Last week. at the Radio Academy Festival in Glasgow. programme makers. audience researchers. Lord Chalfont. and every conceivable radio creature in between. met to talk. breathe and eat radio— although I have to admit those little shiny blue bits get stuck between my teeth.
In the intervals. all that could be seen was a huge seething mass of grey — suits. ties. hair— dotted here and there with brightly-coloured dresses. like some giant amoeba with a collective desire for coffee.
Despite this apparent collective spirit. after attending some of the sessions I became aware of two distinct groups: those who are concerned with the selling of radio and those who make it. The former use expressions such as radio advertising sales areas. audience bases and targets: the latter use ones like Blackpool. listeners and grannies. And. while one delegate tried to assure us that this schism was only a matter oflanguage. there was an underlying suspicion. on both sides. that it was really a question ofattitude. 'l’he sellers treat listeners like impersonal numbers on their graphs and. if sheep had bank accounts and large enough headphones for their personal radios. then the sellers would just as soon broadcast to them. The radio makers don‘t live in the real world. they're protected from any real competition and the icy stare ofstatistics.
So it was with collective relief that we applauded Alastair Cooke as he strolled. with the economy of an 81 year-old to the podium. Here was a speaker we could all safer enjoy. He raised his hand to acknowledge the clapping. patted his white hair and. with a pause to allow fora complete silence to descend. started his 216mb Letter From America. like so many before. with the words ‘Good Evening'. His first letter was broadcast on 31 March
1946 and he hasn't missed a single weekly broadcast ever since. He wasn‘t going to mess around now.
He launched into his familiar. rambling. casual style with an anecdote about a lecture he had given to an audience of doctors. about. much to their displeasure. the pomposity ofdoctors. ‘Maybe you can no more cure a naturally pompous person than you can reﬂower a virgin. it was meant to be a consoling thought. What came out ofit. shortly after my lecture had
been printed in the (‘Iinie Bulletin. wasa letter from the University ofTokyo's Department of Gynaecology: “But. Mr Cooke." it said. “We do it!" ‘ Mr (‘ooke then went on to talk about something completelydifferent.
He describes his talks as a ‘free-wheeling trip through the unconscious.‘ This infuriates the more mean-minded listeners. who suspect he is just going on and on. making it up as he goes along. putting in all those enormous pauses in order to write as few words.with as little effort. for as much money. But they are wrong. Alastair Cooke isan original and he knows about things. a lot of things. but will only talk about whathe knows. Chatting informally in the press room. it was hard to imagine you were listeningtooff-the-euffL'ooke. He talks like his letters. always with the hypnotic storyteller's pace and always beautifully phrased. He mentioned his passion for finding out what the mass of the people really think. rather than what the commentators tell us we think. He paid tribute to the greatest book ever published. where you can find out what the people think. It is printed by the US Government. costs $39 and is called The Annual Statistical A In true! of the United States of A merica.
By the end of his talk. his unconscious had mos ed on to. . . "I’he most beautiful sound in America: the tinkle of ice at twilight.‘ And. to a unanimous standing ovation. Mr Alastair L'ooke left the microphone. and us. strolling out as nonchalantiy as he had strolled in.
Letter rmm A "it’flt'u is broadcast on Long Wave. Fridays at 9. 45pm and repeated on Sundays at 9. 15pm.
Matt lltompson is a HIM ‘ Radio 4 producer.
‘Class collision and an open and honest examination of disablement’ are the twin themes of Changing Step. a film for BBC Scotland. Conceived and directed by Richard Wilson (who directed A Wholly Healthy Glasgow, for TV), It was written by Antony Sher, still best known for his award-winning Richard III on stage, and his portrayal of lecherous sociology lecturer Howard Kirk in the History Man on TV.
Of late Sher has been concentrating
on writing ratherthan performing, and is currently completing his second novel. In Changing Step he takes a peripheral role. The film is set in a Scottish country house, converted into an auxiliary hospital for the recuperation of wounded soldiers in 1917. The wounded are cared for by volunteer nurses drawn mostly from the upper or middle-classes, unused to caring for the working-class soldiers. ‘The world is turned upside down,’ explains Sher. “The lady of the house is no longer in charge, and the working-class boys are being looked after in a house where they would normally be the stall.’
The film shows how two innocents, Private Ross (James Convey) and Lady
Alice Napier (Susan Wooldridge) react to the new surroundings of the hospital, and to each other. A great deal of thought and preparation has gone into the way that the issue of disablement was tackled. All the wounded soldiers are played by genuine amputees, and war veterans and First World War experts were consulted extensively before the film was made. Many disabled young men were interviewed before five were chosen for the parts. ‘Then we worked out the individual differences between the characters in a sort of Mike Leigh way.‘ explains Sher. Many improvisations during the initial stages of rehearsal found their way into the final script.
The five soldiers are at the centre of events, with the better-known performers (Sher, Eleanor Bron) serving as a kind of link device. The soldiers react in different ways to their disablement, but to differing degrees all experience what Sher calls ‘the euphoria of not being dead’.
It is a feeling that is also present in Sher's current stage play. the RSC’s Singer, presently at the Barbican, which concerns the relationship between three concentration camp survivors. For all his writing activity Sher still loves the stage, and relishes the opportunity to return to playing the classical baddies in the nearfuture. (Tom Lappin)
Changing Step: 8801 26 July 9.30pm.
The List 13 — 26 July 199085