Ewen Bremner in William Mcllvanney's Dreaming plus Muriel Gray‘s Munro Show.
Dreams burn down
BBC Scotland‘s Screen Two
' presentation Dreaming. comes to
the small screen on 24 March. Tom Lappin previews William
Mcllvanney‘s ‘Billy Liar‘ for the
()K. hands up who remembers Bil/y 1.1'ar‘.’ No.
not the dodgy 7(ls sitcom. but the joyous 1%} tnovie with 'l'om (‘ourtenay as Keith Waterhouse‘s creation. Billy. the dreamer working for Mr Shadrack the undertaker. but
spending most of his time writing 'l'\' scripts in his
head and lusting after Julie Christie. Very much an evocation of its time. the film brilliantly
captured the atmosphere of a small Northern
town doing its best to grind down the imagination
and ambition of a young lad.
'l‘his idea of the rebellious imaginative spirit hemmed in on all sides by the rigid oppression of
authority figures is revisited in Dreaming. a new BBCScotland filmwritten by William
Mellvanney for the Screen ’l‘wo series. [iwen Bremner plays Sammy Nelson. an unemployed but gifted 17—year-old. who spends his life
Ewen Bremner in ‘Dreaming'
arguing with his father. being told he is overqualified for jobs. sending songs to his heroes Deacon Blue. and above all. dreaming. .. The story is set in Mcllvanney's mythical Ayrshire town ofCiraitltnock. a place where it is advisable to adopt a practical approach to life. Sammy‘s dreams are systematically frustrated. l lis friend ridicules Sammy‘s serious socialist songs. his planned liaison with girlfriend Pauline goes disastrously wrong. and he can‘t even get a copy of last law To Brooklyn at the library. .‘y’lcllvannevs short story (from the ll’a/king Wounded collection) has undergone quite a transformation for the small screen. Sammy’s
fantasies take in opera. silent comedy. l’rcnch art movies. and a wealth ofsongs. with lyrics all written by Mcllvanney. Billy (‘onnolly pops up a couple of times. as a busker and as a quiz-show host. Deacon Blue appear in several scenes. and even Marianne Faithful sings a song. 'l'he stars. though. fail to overshadow the performance of Bremner in his first major television role as Sammy. by turns hilarious as he escapes his parents‘s cliches. and moving as he struggles to revive the socialist ideals of his late uncle Davie.
‘l‘ve been in the same situation as Sammy.‘ says Bremner. ‘l‘ve thought about sortie things in the same way. My heroes maybe weren‘t Deacon Blue or Billy Connolly. I‘m more into ’I’om Waits and Laurie Anderson. but I could definitely understand what he was feeling. I‘ve done all that arguing with my parents. making sarcastic remarks. and storming out of the house.‘
The film follows a typical day for Sammy as he argues with his parents. browses around the local library. and attends a frustrating job interview. Mcllvanney intersperses the dream sequences with hard—edged political comment. to avoid any accusations of whimsy. Sammy may dream he is in oils Paris on the Left Bank. or Prohibition Chicago. but he is soon dragged back to the realities ofsmalltown Scotland in the late 80s. lt‘s occasionally quite grim. relieved by moments of humourand a poignantly optimistic ending.
Mcllvanney‘s compositions are hi“ first attempts at songwriting. and are very wordy. but they help to drag the film away from being straight social drama. and give it a surreal edge. that is aided by Mike Alexander’s direction. and some of Deacon Blues musical arrangements. Ultimately though. it is Bremner‘s performance you come back to. ‘It was a very easy part to play.. he says. ‘I just seemed to slip right into the character.‘ ('l‘om Lappin)
Screen Two: Dreaming [SW/10W)! on HI)’( ‘2 on Sunday 24 Marc/r a! l()pm.
Heaven and Earth
I count myself amongst those people too frightened to go and see an ‘alternative‘ comedian lest I be plucked
trom the audience and forced to put a brave face on public humiliation. Radio
isatantastic medium lorustimid types. We can experience, vicariously, the thrill of cabaret— smokey bars and sexual innuendo —without taking any risks. Retired cabaret veteran and misanthmpe John Dowie is the latest stand-up comic now available inthe comfort of your own home. He brings his own wry brand of humour to ‘The
World of Dowie‘, a new four-part series of sketches and songs on Radio 4. Dowie has professed himself ‘bored with the idea that comedy has to be keptwithin a framework of niceness'. Butthis is Radio 4, remember, so things can’t gettoo nasty. Anyway, his producer, Paul Mayhew-Archer, paints a picture of a gentle, thoughtful Dowie: ‘He's a curiously shy man and very honest aboutthings‘. He agrees that Dowie‘s humouris poignantand that his jokes always have more than a kernel of truth to them. ‘Each week he’ll betaking a theme. The first is about breaking up (that's splitting up, not cracking up). Then there‘s one about cars and progress and how we haven‘t gotany further. In anotherone he falls in love with someone unattainable at the Edinburgh Festival.‘ Anyone we know? (‘The World Of Dowie' starts Sat
23.11.30pm). Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, Radio Scotland‘s new drama studio has been christened with a production specially commissioned forthe eventandto be broadcast simultaneously on Radio Scotland and Radio 3. John Purser's ‘Carver‘ mixes fiction and fact in a dramatization of the life of Robert Carver (1490—1546), an Augustinian canon and composer at the Court of King James V of Scotland. In the play— which stars Torn Fleming — Purser has contrasted the spirituality of Carver's polyphonic choral works with his earthiness of character. His relationship with his concubine Margaret in the face of his opposition to the destructive forces of the Reformation heighten the sense of drama. (‘Carver' Sun 31 Mar, 7.30pm). (Miranda France)
The List 22 March — 4 April 199155