cult following, called Z. That film, about the Greek Colonels, had a great effect on me. I remember sitting in the cinema at the end staring at the screen, just thinking “Christ”. It made me aware that there are all these forces in the world, that are affecting our lives from behind the scenes.’

Ifthis all seems to be sounding a little paranoiac, and Dave Spart-ish, it should be remembered that Bleasdale always laces his scripts with a healthy slug ofgrim humour. Who can forget the ’l’m desperate, Dan’ line in the confessional box in Blackstuff? ‘It broke your heart,‘ says Lindsay. ’Alan’s always got that: that facility to make us laugh at ourselves and then think"‘Shit”. GBH is disturbing, but told with humour. It is very much drama, but I also think it’s hysterically funny. It’s a black comedy because it deals with the insanity ofthese two men under a microscope, and in certain situations, that can be very funny.’

GBH is Channel 4’s most ambitious drama venture in years. It will have the advantages of being launched into a summer schedule heavy on repeats and cheap fillers, and featuring star names like Lindsay, Palin and Julie Walters, but nevertheless faces an uphill struggle to make an impression in a market where the public appetite seems to be for unabashed escapism. After the bucolic idylls served up by the anodyne but

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ratings-topping Larkins in The Darling Buds ofMay, Bleasdale’s grim political allegories could be a little strong to'stomach. ‘I can’t tell if GBH is going to be a commercial success.’ Lindsay admits. “I would love it to get the kind of audience Darling Buds 0f May got, but I’m probably being naive, because GBH doesn‘t fit into that easy-watching category. Alan makes audiences work. It’ll repay you if you do give it that attention, and that’s definitely the sort ofTV I believe we should be making. We just need to get the bloody audience to watch it.’

One thing they do seem to be watching at the moment is videos of Citizen Smith, a phenomenon that leaves Lindsay rather bemused. ‘The videos were released in February, and are doing really well. At the time it was always a struggle, but looking back, we had a brilliant time doing them. The world was my oyster. Free-thinking, free-loving, free everything. . . That was my growing-up period.’ Ahhh, the 705: blissful times. And he’s certainly not ashamed ofthe show 16 years on. ‘Not at all. Those scripts by John Sullivan were great. Now there‘s a thought. John Sullivan and Alan Bleasdale getting together. I’d pay big money to get them together to write me a script.’

it tool: ex-teacherAlan Bleasdale ten years of successful lull-time writing before cracking the London West End in the mid-80s. by which time he had over250 radio scripts. lourTVscripts and eleven stage plays to his name. Below. Marl: fisher rounds up his most widely seen work. I llaving a Ball A true turkey among Bleasdale‘s stage output, Having a Ball ( 1981) makes claims to raise serious points aboutvasectomy. but is in fact a cheap excuse to crack jokes relying entirely on men’s fear of losing their testicles. Dire stuff. I Scully Originally a cult hit on Liverpool’s Radio City, the wayward tales of an unlikely lad hit the small screen in 1984 - not a total success, but notable for a theme tune by Elvis Costello and a bit-part by Kenny Dalglish. I Boys from the Blackstull Thought by many to be the best television drama of the decade, Bleasdale's five-episode drama was a comic yet vitriolic attack on the callous neglect of a nation whose unemployment figures were soaring above the three million mark. Responsible for introducing the catch-phrase Gizza job to the language, while providing moonlighting opportunities for footballers Graeme Souness and Sammy Lee, not to mention a multitude of Bleasdale offspring. I Are You Lonesome Tonight? Ten years after fellow Scouser Willy Russell (with whom he is often confused) had a hit with his Beatles musical John, Paul. George. Ringo and. . . Bert, Bleasdale paid tribute to his hero Elvis Presley. A sentimental celebration of someone ‘not quite conceited, unpleasant and knowing enough to survive‘. I No Surrender Elvis Costello continued his Bleasdale connection in this 1986 black farce ofa movie in which he appears as a second-rate magician at the Charleston Club, a fictitious seedy Liverpool nightspot where two sectarian parties of OAPs are doing battle. Very bleak and grimly funny. I The Monocled Mutineer Making less of an impact than Boys from the Blacksruff. Bleasdale‘s television parable for a disenfranchised Britain proved he still could be controversial. as academics argued over the historical accuracy of his First World War drama. Bleasdale fans recognised that contemporary relevance was more

. G BH starts on Channel 4 on Thurs 61une.

important than historical truth.

The List 31 May— 13 Jone—1591 11