I Heart OI Soweto (BBC2) 7.50—8.20pm.
The first in a new four-part series
investigating the lives and problems of
people living in the sprawling South
I Arena: One Irish Rover (BBC2)
8.20—9.35pm. Another ofthe St. Patrick's
Day weekend specials. this documentary
spotlights grumpy Celtic rocker Van
Morrison. as he embarks on a world tour.
IOuIOIAIrica(BBCZ)9.25—10.15pm. No sign of Meryl Streep. this is a documentary
i introduction to a series ofAfrican films.
! featuring interviews with some ofAfrica‘s
i best-known directors.
' I 4-Play: Ball On The Slates (Channel 4)
I III—11.10pm. Brian Elsley‘s political
thriller is set in Scotland in 1993. A Labour
Government is thrown into crisis when
four MPs are killed in a car crash. and
| their wafer-thin majority is jeopardised.
i See preview.
l IYaaha(BBC2) l().15—ll.45pm.The first
film in the African season is directed by Idrissa Ouedraogo. It‘s a simple tale ofthe unlikely friendship between two children and an old outcast woman who isthc I grandmother — or Yaaba — of the title. I Push The BoatOut(BBC1) 10.45—1 1.25pm. More folk-related sounds from the Renfrew Ferry. American eccentric Tymon Dogg is this week‘s star turn.
I Twin Peaks (BBC2) 1.15—2.05am. Repeat of the previous Tuesday's episode. with Agent Cooper checking the bus timetables out of town.
SUNDAY 17 '
I Viv on Sunday (Scottish) 3-3.3(ipm. Chat from Viv Lumsden and her guests. with filmed reports from around the country. I Brush Strokes (BBC1)7. 15—7.45pm. Gentle comedy with the occasional sharp line. Karl Ilowman is the genial painter/decorator Jacko.
I British Academy Awards (BBCI) 8.15—9pm. Lots of loveying and doveying at the annual back-slapping shindig. Presenters are the mutually hairy Billy Connolly and Noel Edmunds. and a live transAtlantic link-up is promised.
I Screen 2: Do Not Disturb ( BBCZ)
10—1 1 . 15pm. The excellent Peter Capaldi co-stars with Frances Barber in tonight's new TV drama. a contemporary ghost story.
I Shrinks (Scottish) 9— 10pm. Obsessive patients. compulsive cleaning disorders and radical financial revamps are some of the treats in store for the psychiatrists at the Maximilian Clinic.
I Cutting Edge: A Plague On Your Home (Channel 4) 9Ll()pm. Londontower blocks are providing fertile breeding grounds for cockroaches. The problem has become so severe that some families have been forced to take the law into theirown hands
I The Manageress (Channel 4) 10—1 1pm. Cherie Lunghi's ever-changing squad of actor/footballers do battle once again in this excellent repeated series. Their struggle for promotion to the First Division continues.
I The Jolson Story (Channel 4) 2—4.25pm. The best-known Hollywood showbiz biopic features Larry Parks as the blacked-up Jewish boy singing his way
onto Broadway. and falling in love with
the greasepaint and the crowd‘s applause. I Twin Peaks (BBC2) 9—9.5(Ipm. The cast of wackos. freaks and nymphomaniacs cause more problems for Agent Cooper and SheriffTruman.
I Taking Liberties: Dying 0i Shame (BBC2) 9.50— 10.20pm. ls shoplifting a crime. or a cry for help'.’ This documentary investigates the links between shoplifting and suicide.
I Play For One: Joe (BBCl ) 9.30—10pm. Another in the BBC Scotland series of one-person plays. Joe stars June Watson as a middle-aged Italian who has spent most of her life in Scotland. but looks back fondly to her childhood in sunny Italy.
WEDNESDAY 20 - ’
I A Different World (Channel 4) 6-6.3(lpm. A new series ofthe supposedly hip college sitcom. that originated as a spin-off from the Cosby Show. Very goody-goody. to the point ofnausea.
I Inspector Morse (Scottish) 8—10pm. Another 120 minutes of red herrings. ludicrous plot-twists and the quirky habits of the loveable old git. ably assisted by the eminently sensible Kevin Whately.
I For The Greater Good ( BBCZ) 9.25—1l).25pm. First episode in a three-part drama series. fix-Professional Martin Shaw shakes off Lewis Collins and Gordon Jackson to star in this complex political thriller.
I The Golden Girls (Channel 4) Ill—10.30pm. First series repeats.still crammed full ofjuicy one-liners from the four geriatrics. They haven‘t quite developed the cruel put-downs ofpoor Rose yet. but they‘re getting there.
I Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out (Channel 4) 10.30—11pm. More mirthful moments from the Man With The Stick. and assorted performing comestibles. No doubt the dire Graham Lister will have a very poo-er cabaret turn to try out.
I City Lights (BBC2) 8—8.3(Ipm. Repeated laboured jokes from Gerard Kelly asthe bank clerk who‘d rather be creating great literature than mixing up people‘s statements.
I The Crystal Maze (Channel 4) 8.30—9.3(lpm The futuristic game-show returns. hosted by Rocky Horror Show originator Richard O'Brien. The games are intriguing. the contestants almost as appalling as the people who go on Remote C '(mtrol.
I Red Dwarf (BBC2) 9—9.3(lpm. The eponymous spaceship and its motley crew hurtle through outer-space on another expedition in search of punchy jokes and imaginative storylines. Sometimes they find them. sometimes they don‘t.
I 40 Minutes: Battered Men (BBC2)
9.3()— II). 10pm. An investigation into the problem of men becoming victims of violence. Apparently one in five casualty patients from domestic violence are men. Stop me if my maths or logic are at fault here. but doesn't that mean that four in five are women?
I True Stories: Echoes from a Somhre Empire (Channel-l) 10.30pm—12. 10am. Werner Herzog directs a powerful documentary telling the horrific tale of Jean-Bede] Bokassa. self-styled Emperor of the Central African Republic. Herzog tells the story through the eyes of journalist Michael Goldsmith. and includes stories of murder. cannibalism. and child massacres.
I N8 (Scottish) 10.55—1 1.25pm. Arts and entertainments info from around Scotland provided by our wacky trio ofpresenters.
In this age ofstyle-consciousness. when everything from condoms to cake-decorations has to be ‘designer‘. it‘s not so much what you do as how you do it. and particularly which accessories and cultural references are to the fore at the doing. Substance is definitely the poor cousin to style.
The good old TV whodunnit is no exception to this fetish for surface glamour above serious content. with examples available from both sides of the Atlantic. For aspiring writers. the advice must be ‘don‘t worry too much about the plot. just get the little details right. and you'll be counting the repeat fees before you can say Inspector Morse.‘
For Morse is still the expert at this sort ofthing. John Thaw‘s Thames Valley aesthete gets the quirky little offbeat touches so perfectly. you can happily overlook the fact that the plot bears as much resemblance to reality as Ken Dodd‘s tax returns. Without getting too cynical. it‘s a fair bet that members ofthe Thames Valley force probably spend considerably more time chatting about Ford Capri accessories and coming up with fictional confessions to the Basingstoke blagging. than Morse‘s regular habit of philosophising about real ale. quoting obscure literary bans mots and listening to Verdi arias. but hey. this is fantasy. and a particularly beguiling one at that.
A recent episode offered us up women priests, psychopathic bulimia sufferers and Peggy Mount as a Mother Superior. in a plot seemingly lifted from Python outtakes. But. all things considered, it didn‘t really matter that much. The old-fashioned whodunnit staples of red herrings, shifty-looking prime suspects and devious twists at the end serve merely as an irritating sideshow to the show‘s real intention: to show us what a loveable old sourpuss Morse is. Like Columbo (now returned in a series oflengthy specials) whom we willed to be as eccentric. scruffy and downright objectionable as possible in the
'company ofall those Beverly Hills
millionaires. it is the character we
care about. rather than the story. Morse has the added asset of Sergeant Lewis (Kevin Whately). an ordinary-Joe-type suburban Dr Watson who. I‘m glad to see. is beginning to get a few jibes of his own in on the old cerebral snob. although he still has to get the boss his tea and help with the washing-up. Talk about the odd couple.
Morse hasn‘t come up against a werewolfas of yet. although no doubt if he were to. his detection methods would be as outlandishas Agent Cooper‘s in Twin Peaks. We know whodunnit now. but it is very difficult to believe anyone has actually been following this show week in. week out for the plot. Haunting camerawork. OK. intriguing characterisation. fine. comic genius. definitely. but that plot. . . forget it. There‘s been an awful lot ofcomplete tosh written about David Lynch in general and Twin Peaks in particular. usually by the sort of people who think Michael Ignatieffis an intellectual. and claim to like Peter Greenaway. The trouble is. ifyou take the thing too seriously you begin to ask questions like. why are all the female characters either 1) Pouting young teases with very audible breathiness that is nothing to do with asthma, 2) Grasping. calculating. ruthless businesswomen/bitches. or 3) Raped and mutilated corpses“? Call me a philistine. but I find it more comfortable to take Twin Peaks as a soapy entertainment with a more than averagely ludicrous storyline.
All the same. there have been plenty ofthose Great TV Moments to savour. with my personal favourites being Dale Cooper eye-to-eye with a moose. Deputy Frank scrabbling under a desk for his sperm sample. and Leland ‘It was me all the time folks‘ Palmer singing ‘mairsy dotes and doesy dotes. and little lambsy divy'. All of these little vignettes, though. were necessary and welcome antidotes to tedious amounts ofdwarfs talking gibberish, or nubile nymphettes emoting to a dreary old Julee Cruise soundtrack. It comes as a huge relief that now the wolf is out of the bag so to speak. we can look forward to a feast ofthose tiny comic details that make all the difference. Break out the doughnuts fellas.
Ifthey‘re desperate for another murder victim though. could I politely suggest Josie Lawrence? Ifit wasn‘t enough having to put up with her on Whose Line Is It Anyway on Channel 4. The Funny Farm on Scottish is also showing her dire improvisations. only 15 minutes later. Surely there‘s something in the Broadcasting Act to prevent this
self-satisfied harridan screeching unfunny ‘songs‘ about toothbrushes and vacuum cleaners at us twice a night. She makes Sandi Toksvig’s grating ‘captain ofthe hockey team’ tones seem almost acceptable. Emma Thompson‘s solo series of a couple ofyears ago remains the current yardstick for execrable comedy showcases. but Lawrence’s own show Josie goes into production any time now. You have been warned. (Tom Lappin)
GGThe List 8-21 March 1991