Tam Dalyell i
‘The parliament at Westminster will i remain sovereign. nothing will undo that. But there is room for much i diversity within that sovereignty and, ifyou wish it. an elected : assembly is yours for the taking. If you do so. you will take the first and I most essential step to putting an end to a controversy that has distracted politics in Scotland for more than a century. So I say to you. for Scotland‘s future. for Britain‘s unity, vote yes.‘
So James Callaghan urged Scots to bow out. at least partially, of the Union which bound them to England in 1707. An amendment to the bill requiring that 40 percent ofthe electorate. as well as an actual majority. vote in favour ofthe bill. ensured that the referendum held on 1 March 1979 missed devolution by a whisker. But What if. . ?— Radio 4‘s intellectually wistful series thriving on hypothesis— imagines that Scotland did vote ‘yes‘. speculates on . where Scotland might find itselfnow ' and invites Tam Dalyell and Neil MacCormack to predict whether the result would be a ‘Scottish renaissance‘ or a ‘bureaucratic i mess‘.
For MacCormack. Regius Professor of Public Law at Edinburgh University. everything in ' the garden is. if not rosy. at least rosier; de-industrialisation has not taken place at such a whacking rate and Ravenscraig is still in business: Scottish politics have evolved towards proportional representation and independence is in the wind. The Scots are culturally more self-confident and less acrimonious towards the South.
Dalyell (Labour MP for Linlithgow). who led the original ‘No‘ campaign in the 70s. prophesies ' squabbling and parochialism. even suggesting that ’Scotland could become like Northern Ireland. and lamenting the inevitable loss of cultural traffic between North and South. Interestingly. both speakers estimate that it would take Scotland about ten years to move from Assembly to independence. a disastrous move. according to Dalyell; it could only result. he says. in ‘a bad, bad relationship between neighbours‘. (Miranda France)
With the sad foreclosure of Manhattan Cable and the departure of the simply divine Laurie Pike, fans of quirkyTV looked to be in for a dry summer. But fear not, the equally wonderful Isabella Stasi is returning to fill the gap with a new series of Europe Express. Although ostensibly a current affairs programme, Europe Express distinguished itself last year by producing reports on topics such as Austrian neo-fascist duelling clubs and the most primal of prima-donna Italian opera stars. Editor Sara Ramsden wants the new series to be just as watchable.
‘I choose the subjects that I have never heard of before and that fascinate me,‘ explains Ramsden. ‘The key criteria for the stories that we film are that they’re new, they’re interesting and that they’re about people’s lives. But we also want to find something out about the underlying political, social and economic conditions that are taking place in that country.‘
Serious principles, but amongst the films in the first two programmes of the new series are a report on the making of a French soap opera, Riviera (said to be the most exploitative of the genre everto be filmed), and a visit to an old people’s home in Milan devoted entirely to retired opera singers.
‘Riviera is simply a fascinatineg tacky soap opera,’ admits Ramsden, ‘and yet what we’re also going to bring out is the incredible sensitivity of the French to cultural imperialism from America. You know, the way that they’re really uptight about “Ie hamburger" and “le weekend”.’
Later on in the series, Stasi and her fellow presenters will be tackling issues such as the increasingly misogynistic nature of the Polish Catholic Church and ‘a story from Italy that isn’t about the Mafia.’
‘Did you realise that 40 per cent of Italian dentists have got false papers and are not specially trained. When you find a story like that you just say, “Marvellous, let’s do it.” Apparently there’s a unit of the carabiniere that go on dental patrol and do secret raids on dentists to check their papers. Those sort of stories just don’t get covered by the mainstream UK media.’ (Philip Parr)
The first of the new series of Europe Express will be on Channel 4 on Friday 28 June at 8.30pm.
renown-Ii Family ties
In the past, programming for racial minorities has tended to concentrate on the areas of 30 minute late-night magazine or current affairs shows, invariably becoming ghettoised. Channel 4’s Family Pride is an attempt to redress the balance, with the Asian community depicted in that most populist of formats, the soap opera.
Zia Mohyeddin not only conceived and produced the new series but also plays the central character BB, a wealthy importer. ‘The Asian community plays a full part in the British way of life,’ he says, ‘and there was clearly a place for a drama series exploring the role of these families.
The main characters in Family Pride are financially a cut above most British soaps. BB and his best friend Shahid Rizvi are well-to-do and their children successful professionals. The Lat family provide a balance, surviving on daughter Nina’s salary as a primary school teacher.
‘The range of people is typical of the kinds of families in Britain today,’ says Mohyeddin. ‘There are people at all levels of the social scale, from those who have built up successful businesses and good reputations, to those in manual jobs.’
In true soap opera tradition, the main aim of the series is to be watchable. Soaps like EastEnders and Brookside have attempted to address social issues, to varying degrees of success, but in the end it comes down to the characters and the plots. Mohyeddin is optimistic that the show will be both informative and entertaining.
‘I hope that we will attract a broad audience who will become hooked on the intrigues, the romances and the
occasional confrontations, and amused by the humour of everyday life,’ he says. ‘There will be dramatic i moments and storylines to keep I everyone involved, and in addition, Family Pride may offer an insightinto I the waythe Asian community thinks and acts.’ (Tom Lappin) .
Family Pride begins on Channel 4 on Sunday 30 June at 5pm.
The Bedi and Rizvi families and friends.
I Little Blighty on the Down In the picturesque English village of Little Blighty. Mrs Roberts. a tyrannical leader ofthe Rotarians and the Parish Council for eleven years. has been deposed. The village green has been turned into a car park. the River Blight is polluted. the doctor‘s surgery is falling apart and the local school is full of rioting children. Mr Barnum. the new village leader. thinks he's the man to put things right. The three writers of this brilliant satire — all of Spitting Image fame ~ get just three days a week to translate political reality into the minutiae of village life. (Radio 4. Fri 5. l lpm) I Waiter, There’s a Fly in my Gazpacho A programme which traces the fortunes of five people who followed BBC language courses and won trips to Spain. (icrmany. Portugal. Italy and France. (Radio 5. Sun 30. 11.30am) ( Miranda France)
I Calling the Shots Ty
like Leigh. director till/IX]! Hopes and Ife is Sweet talks about his penchant for transposing urban British life to the silver screen. (Radio 5. Fri 5. 9.30pm)
I Strange Days: The Doors
(‘an you stand hearing any
more about Jim Morrison ‘.’ If not. don't tune in to this special anniversary programme (twenty years since Jimbo died). an hour-long exploration of the man. the myth and the music. Surviving Doors Manzarek. Densmore and Kreiger are wheeled in to do their bit and John Peel makes a special appearance as ‘I)oors—fan- turned-sceptic'. Last chance to dust down your old Doors T-shirt. (Radio 1 . Sat 2‘). 2pm) I Sunday Play: The Cookham Resurrection Visitors to Kelvingrove‘s recent Stanley Spencer exhibition maybe interested in this award-winning play — a dramatisation of the life of the eccentric who had a topsy-turvy attitude towards religion. turning the women he slept with into portraits ofthe Virgin Mary and frequently using his father to represent (iod. Spencer. w ho was born a century ago. is played by Donald l’leasence. w ho wasn't born much later. (Radio 3. Sun 3t). 7.30pm)
The List 28June— ll July 199] 75