Dirty Den dies again. A French camera crew visits Britain in
The results of a unique TV swap — a British production crew for a French one — will be screened soon on Channel 4. Ross Parsons examines the shifting cultural barriers and asks, ‘Do they mean us?’
Now that the Berlin Wall has fallen, only one major barrier to European unity remains — and even ifShe goes. the English Channel will still separate us from mainland Europe. Yet even that great defence against foreigners will soon be undermined by the Chunnel. Already, drill-ends have met beneath the sea and Johnny-foreigner won‘t be far behind.
As the whiffofgarlic mingles with the pungent odour of pork pies and brown ale beneath La Manche. Channel 4, aware of the changing mood
of an island nation and determined to be in the vanguard of Euroculture, have organised a brief
swapping of camera crews with a French production company. As a prelude to the brave new world of Europe post- 1992, each crew will grub around in a foreign trough ofculture and offer a filmed report on what they turn up. The results of this cultural crossover will be shown in Without Walls, the channel‘s innovative arts programme. on Wednesday 14 and Sunday 18. As the making ofthe programme itself demonstrates. cultural values are gradually losing their heritage of national ideals and traditions as market forces dictate an increasingly uniform outlook. Among those interviewed in France — Alain Touraine. Jacques Derrida. Jean Beaudrillard, Pierre Bourdieu and Regis Debray
France's iinest hour- Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkln’s Je T'hime reached the number one spot in the British charts in i 969. It remains the most successiul everioreign language single in this country.
In their efforts to find out whether traditional British virtues of tolerance and consensus are under threat, they shuttled between London and Cambridge talking to Michael Ignatieff. Margaret Drabble, John Berger. George Steiner and Sir Stephen Spender — a peculiarly narrow frame of reference if they wish to examine British culture.
So, with similar small groups ofcultural talking heads referred to in each country. the question of divergence in more popular areas ofeultural activity has not been properly addressed. In the main, the people talked to can tell their arts from their elbow but that‘s about all. By keeping the scope of their investigations into each nation‘s cultural life quite narrow, they provide a whiff of 1a viefrancaise/anglaise but not enough to get your teeth into.
Without Walls: Tunnel Visions ( Channel 4) Wednesday 14, 9.15—10. 15pm, andSunduy 18, 9.30~10.30pm.
some argue that there is a vital struggle going on to maintain their own values in a world in which separate cultures are disintegrating. Ironically, the programme at once celebrates these ideals and contributes to the internationalisation of them.
A wide difference still remains, however. While the British production team tried to explore the effect that the toppling of revolutionary idealism in Eastern Europe has had on intelectual thought in France, traditionally rooted in the French Revolution of 1789, the French were baffled by ’Allo. ’Allo.
In the ‘return leg’ to be screened on Sunday 18, the production team from Paris look at the current climate in Britain. They discover that while it is almost an insult to be called an intellectual here, Charter 88. the Salman Rushdie affair and Harold Pinter and his chums seem to provide evidence that people are prepared to take a stance on some issues.
Remember Reg Cox? He was the old codger iound dead in the very lirst episode oi EastEnders, popularly believed to be their Cotton's lirst victim. You had to ieel sorry iorthe actor, looking iorward to being part at a smash BBC soap, only to land the part oi Reg. The actor concerned, Nobby James, had previously appeared as Lynch Mob Victim in the Virginian, and Dismembered Body in several HSC productions, but eventually changed his agent.
That same agent allowed Leslie
Next issue: Danny Kendall. Honest.
Grantham to do a sex scene with Susan ‘Chelle’ Tully, and was never lorglven. Les wanted out, and true to the usual preposterous plot devices, he became . the lirst man on TV to be murdered by a bunch oi llowers down by the Waliord canal. The reason given ior the exit was that Les wasted up with the role oi tough guy Den, the dodgy pub owner with a ltindly streak, mixed up with some bad boys. Instead he wanted to try a new challenge in The Paradise Club with the role at tough guy Dan, the dodgy club owner with a kindly streak, mixed up with some bad boys. . . (Torn
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