Viv Lumsden’s new chat show, and Channel 4’s The Land of Europe.
A new chat show might not exactly be what the world has been waiting for, but Scottish Television’s Viv On Sunday series promises a different approach. Tom Lappin talks to the producer, Robin Seiger.
Cynics say that television is three or four very old ideas endlessly recycled. Whether that‘s true or not, certainly the concept of the chat show has been with us almost since TV began. Despite attempts to jazz it up in the American David Letterman style by the likes ofJonathan Ross or Ruby Wax. the format remains pretty much the same: Presenter + guest = hopefully scintillating chat.
Its enduring popularity with TV producers might be something to do with its relative cheapness. an important consideration when every penny can mean a higher franchise bid. All you need to supply is a chair, a sofa. a few drinks in hospitality (George Best or Oliver Reed excepted). and you‘re away. The quality depends entirely on the chemistry between presenter and guests. With Wogan, it‘s often a case of the bland leading the bland, while Ross has a forgivable tendency towards the suggestive or juvenile. The ; fact is. the genre is still slightly under the shadow ofthe two great Yorkshiremen of the 70s, Russell Harty and Michael Parkinson. whose personalities would spark off their guests in unpredictable ways, and both ofwhom knew when to sit back and just let their guests talk. It made for distinctly more diverting television than the current trend for shallow nonentities
endlessly plugging their latest book/film/TV series.
Viv Lumsden practices her chat-up lines.
Scottish Television‘s new chat show Viv On Sunday. presented by Viv Lumsden. promises to take a more sensible approach. and to try to be more innovative with the limited resources at its disposal. Producer Robin Seiger explains: ‘lt‘s
very rarely you get big names coming up to Scotland, so to do a Scottish talk show. it’s always going to be problematic, in that you won‘t be able to do a celebrity-based show. You‘ve got to use a wider brush-stroke in your approach.‘
Although the programme has lined up interviews with celebrities such as Tom Jones, Ian McShane and Roger Daltrey. they are only a small part of its more democratic format. ‘We tried to make it much more universal. and not have a rigid structure of two celebs a week. every week. We wanted to be more reactive,‘ says Seiger. ‘It is really a magazine programme, in the sense that we want to be informal, relaxed and entertaining. If there was one word we were conscious of it was that every item should be fun. My experience is that in the most popular shows like The Generation Game or Blind Date. it is the public who are the real stars. Audiences are more likely to identify with other people who are like them, rather than stars elevated by some sort of celebrity status.’
To this end, the show will regularly provide assignments for members of the audience. One intrepid soul will attempt to become a stand-up comic, while a Glasgow usherette will be ﬂown to London to review a film. While this may seem to be straying dangerously close to Esther Rantzen territory, it is all in accordance with Seiger‘s democratic philosophy. ‘Everyone‘s got an opinion on a film,’ he says, ‘but why should Barry Norman’s opinion be more worthwhile than anyone else‘s? Well, I don‘t think it is.‘
Presenter Viv Lumsden is still rather better-known for reading the news on Scotland Today, although she has also presented shows like The Scottish Home Service and The Garden Party. ‘She’s very sharp and quick-witth and a very good interviewer.‘ says Seiger, who takes care to emphasise the fact that this is a team show. ‘lt‘s not going to be a personality vehicle at all. It won‘t be a case of Viv saying ‘Here‘s my next guest . . .‘ It‘s very much our show. our guests.‘ Try suggesting that to Terry Wogan.
Viv On Sunday is on Scottish Television. Sun Feb 10at3pm.
TRAUIO LOVE ON THE AIR
Hating Derek Jameson and Gloria Hunniford is a national hobby to which I happily subscribe. So, "14 February finds me in a mood for masochism - a cute Garfield card from my mother would do the trick—I shall tune into Radio 2 at 7.31am, just in time to catch Derek’s chlrrupy ‘mornin' mornin", and listen to the loathsome Valentine Day Special. I gather that it is a Special because it is to be packed with information on the most imaginative ways to propose marriage. There is more to it, it seems, than ‘getting down on one knee and putting a ring on a
Derek Jameson: the man they love to hate.
Alan Bennett is above all that. His series of six monologues, Talking Heads, won such wild acclaim on TV that the BBC have decided to make them available to the massive audience of Radio 4. A Chip in the Sugar is the first in the series and performed by Bennett himself. In it a middle-aged man talks about his elderly mother and her new ‘romantic' involvement with an unsavoury characterirom her past (Radio 4, Sun 10, 2.30pm). Also of dramatic interest is Rousseau's Tale, an imaginary account oi the address made by the French philosopher during his exile in London in 1765. Famous for his words
‘Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains’, on this occasion Rousseau talks about his emotional and sexual life and inspires both outrage and sympathy in his audience. (Radio 3, Tue12, 10.30pm)
God and Caesar is a five-part series in which heads of state talk about religion, politics and reforms. F. W. de Klerk was first to grasp the nettle. Coming Soon are V. P. Singh and Garfield Todd, former Prime Ministers of India and Southern Rhodesia, and David Lange, the controversial, pacifist former Prime Minister of New Zealand. (Radio 4, Thursdays, 11.25am; repeated Saturdays. 5pm) (Miranda France)
The List 8— 2| February 1991 65