John Purser

Ancient notes Scotland‘s strength is clearly in its blockbusters: last year's exhibition. Scotland Creates: 5000 Years of Scottish Art. looked unbeatable. but now Radio Scotland is launching a 30-part series tracing the history of Scotland‘s music. from prehistoric times to the present day. John Purser whose musical drama ( 'ari'er won a Gold Medal at New York‘s last International Radio Festival first mooted the idea ofa ‘history of Scotland in sound‘ over a year ago. Then the bulk of material overtook the airspace available. and Radio Scotland agreed to give Scotland's Music: A Radio History a one and a half hour slot every Sunday afternoon. for six months. Says Purser now ‘fortunately at the start. I was so excited by the material and so convinced of the importance of making it available to the people of Scotland that I just plunged in. Having brought it all together. I now realise what a monstrous task it‘s been and what impudence I had to do it.‘ , But Purser is certainly not weary of : his ‘task‘; lend a willing ear and he ; enthuses wildly about medieval plainchant. Gaelic psalm-singing.

l l

r Scots ballads some of them quite

risqué and 18th century piobaireachd. Listeners will hear an Irish Bronze Age born from 8th century BC played. for the first time in 3000 years, by Simon

0‘ Duibhir (he was tracked down in Australia. picking up hints from didgeridoo-playing Aborigines). Top of the bill in programme one is the first recorded performance of the ' Caprington horn at 2000 years old. Scotland‘s oldest playable instrument.

The music is also given its social context and there are excerpts from contemporaneous diaries and other documents. making the series a record ofScottish history in general. John Purser is keen that it should be instructive. but not academic. ‘The programmes don‘t make any i judgments or final assessments - that‘s up to the listeners‘. he says. ‘but they make available a lot of exciting material that people will never even have heard of and we‘ve tried to present it in as varied and informative a way as possible.‘ (Miranda France)

Scotland’s Music: A Radio History starts on Sun 29 at 2.02pm

Close calls

Rumours have been rite of late that the bubble may have burst for Brookside, Channel 4’s nine-year-old soap opera. Apparently, the story went, the show was to be axed in favour of a fresher drama series, despite the fact that it consistently pulls in some of the channel‘s highest viewing figures.

Whatever the situation at Channel 4, the programme's makers, Phil Redmond’s Mersey Television apparently still envisage a rosy future for the show, and new plans have been made to give it a wider outlook than the claustrophobic Close, where the limits on setting and characters have sometimes led the writers to pursue credibility-straining avenues in search of a plot.

The mom episode of Brookside, broadcast on 9 October features the opening of the Brookside Shopping parade, a mini-mall that isthe first stage in extending the programme to include a whole community ratherthan just a few houses. Future plans include a civic centre and a police station, although it might also be an idea to build a road to the shops, a practicality that the programme‘s designers seem to have overlooked. ‘We want to expand the look of the show to reflect the ever growing society we live in,‘ says producer Mal Young. ‘For nine years we have relied on a postbox on the close forouronly regular, but realistic, meeting place for characters. The arrival of the shops will have an immense impact on all the Brookside


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Sue Sullivan finds the Rrookside shops '


residents and help to expand the whole feeling of the show.’

In the past, the programme has been guilty of some ludicrous diversions from the believable, with sieges, shoot-outs, rapes, senile dementia, murderous vendettas and heroin addiction piled on week after week. In attempting to tackle sensitive issues, the show has often forgotten its obligations to entertain. The expansion of opportunities to bring in new characters and situations should prevent the scriptwriters straining to come up with anything too outlandish to boost audience figures, although he warned, the new shops open against the shocking murder of a Close regular, and the autumn season promises to broach the subject of child prostitution, so it's still far from a barrel of laughs. (Tom Lappin)

The 100mb episode of Brookside is broadcast on Wednesday 9 October at 8pm.

muz- News boys

In the Whose Line Is it Anyway tradition of nicking cheap and cheerful quiz-show formats from Radio 4, Havel Got News For You returns for a second

: series on Friday 4 October. hosted by

Angus Deayton, with the rival captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton returning to do battle and send up the Bill Beaumont v Ian Botham tradition. The show is produced by Harry Thomson, the man responsible for the radio version, The News Quiz.

The first series was something of a success, being acclaimed as ‘hysterically funny’ by the Guardian no less, but seemed to end just as audiences started to cotton onto it. The second series should have more advance notice, although the topical nature of the show means each programme has to be recorded the

night before transmission. ‘lt‘s done on the Thursday and rush-edited on the Friday,‘ explains quizmaster Deayton. ‘lt's virtually all ad-libbing. The panellists don’t know what questions they are going to be asked, so they have to come up with the funnies pretty spontaneously. lt’s surprising how many of the politicians and journalists have come up with oft-the-cuff funny remarks.’

Labour boys Tony Banks and Ken Livingtone were among the wittier

? panellists in the last series. The

emphasis is on humour, but as Deayton 3 says, a competitive edge does have a

tendency to intrude on proceedings. ‘In the last series there definitely was an

element of needle creeping into it. Paul Merton the comedian was winning

quite comfortably, ahead of the

journalist lan Hislop, who was supposed to be the expert on the news.‘ For Deayton, it was a new experience

playing the quizmaster. ‘lt’s the first

one I’ve done straight,‘ he says. ‘l must have done a thousand parodies. You do tend to slip into quizmaster mode, bullying the panellists. that sort of thing.‘ Still not quite up to David Coleman standard though. (Tom Lappin)


I Madonna: APaul Cambacclni Profile Strange that the acknowledged ‘Ouecn of Pop‘ should invest precious time and energy in compilinga profile of DJ Paul (iambaccini. But far more interesting is Radio 1‘s apparent insistence on pet names for all their presenters— DLT. Simes and. now. The (ireat (iambo —- a clever way of making these rather unappealingcharacters more cuddly. Perhaps other stations should try it'.’(Sa128.2pm)

I Arms and the Man A second chance to hear the famous anti-war comedy written by Bernard Shaw. better known to listeners nowadays as (iBS. or The (ircat (ieorge-o. (Radio ‘1..\lon3ll.7.45pm)

I You Only Live Twice But you get at least two opportunities to hear BBC dramas. Michael Jayston plays 007 and (‘livc Merrison his .lapanese counterpart in this repeated adaptation of fan Fleming‘s thriller. (RadioJ. Mon 30. 2.02pm)

I Storiesfrom Black History A week of readings from a collection ofstorics by American writer Juhus tester. porimving the lives ols‘laycs and plantation workers. The first story. Long Journey Home —~ about a group of slaves w ho decide to rebel against their confinement

is read by singer Eartha Kilt. (Radio 5. starts Mon 30. 7 15pm)

IThird Ear: J.G. Ballard (‘hristophcr Bigs‘by talks to the author of Iimpire of the Sun about its sequel. The Kindness of Women, another hybrid of autobiography and novel. again set in Shanghai. but witnessing life in the prison camp from a different perspective. (Radio 3. Tue l. 7.05pm)

I Relative Values’l‘hc ‘relaiionships‘ programme delves into lesbianism this week. with an interview in which Pat and Judith discuss the development of their friendship atcollege - when Judith wanted to become a nun to love and. 30 years on. a family. (Radioslfl‘ue1.7.20pm)

IThe Rugby World Cup: Opening Ceremony and GameSixtccntcamsfrom , all over the world compete lorthe William Webb 3 Ellis Trophy. starting with langland against the pre~tournament

favourites. the

All-Blacks. and complete with pre-game rabble-rousing. courtesy

of HR“ l’rince Edward, 1 (Radro5.'1 hurs3.3pm)

. he List 27 September lilfk‘tobei IWI 69