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Christopher Lee

Be afraid

When Dr Lecter orders up a nice

bottle ofChianti, you’d better take a second look at the meat on the plate in front of you. The recipe served up by director Jonathan Demme in Silence of the Lambs may well have brought the horror genre back to the cinematic fore. but many people still treat it with the same repugnance as something nasty they‘d found on the sole oftheir shoe. However. instead of letting Jason or Freddy pay a call and show them the error of their ways, Channel 4 has chosen Hallowe‘en as the best time to present television‘s first solid retrospective of horror cinema and examination into the nature of fear.

’The bottom line is that everybody has watched horror films and everybody has enjoyed them,’ says genre specialist Mark Kermode, who carried out the interviews in the hour-long documentary. ‘but some mainstream critics start in a line that begins with Frankenstein and ends up with Silence ofrhe Lambs, and they say they‘re all the same basically filthy. depraved and disgusting.‘

Narrated by Christopher Lee, the programme embraces the scope of the genre from the earliest screen monsters to contemporary serial killers, but goes beyond merely cataloguing film clips by using them to illustrate the central inquiry into fear as fun. While the fans sate themselves with excerpts from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the ‘bullet through the spyhole‘ scene (my favourite) from Dario Argento‘s Opera, others may learn athing or two from the interviews, which range from teenage fans to psychologists. Among these are words ofwisdom from those working inside the genre, including John Carpenter, Robert Bloch and William Friedkin, who gives a rare TV interview on The Exorcist.

‘What we found was that there was not one single person that we spoke to who wasn‘t intelligent and erudite.‘ Kermode affirms. ‘These people have had to learn to defend themselves because, in the horror genre, you won‘t get away with the waffle that people get away with everywhere else.’ Maybe we can cut

that waffle by sending Dr Lecter round to bite out a few tongues. (Alan Morrison) Fear in the Dark is broadcast on Thurs 31 at10.30pm.

Power Games

A new thriller series,‘Children oi the North’ has been adapted from MS. Power's trilogy of novels set in Northern Ireland and dealing with typically Northern Irish issues- murder, corruption, man-hunts and co-operation. Co-operation?

‘l’m Irish, I'm very concerned about Northern Ireland,’ says Power ‘and I get irritated, Iget angry at the way Northern Irish people are portrayed it‘s all very cut and dried, there are thugs and there are non-thugs. I have continually tried to de-labelise people. It’s really bad to put labels on people Catholic/ Protestant- because you create an impression in your mind of what this person is. i want to try to humanise the various factions and to show that even within the British Army, within the BUC, within the IRA, there are people who are civilised-thinking and would very much like peace. In their own way they're all trying to find a solution to Northern Ireland and, well . . . they can’t, basically.’

The series has a retired Foreign

Office official coming to Northern Ireland and beginning a money-laundering operation for the IRA. Michael Gough plays the part of Arthur Apple, supported by Partick Malahide, Tony Doyle and John Kavanagh as Ml6, RUC and IBA chiefs respectively. These various factions are pulled together and eventually find

Fellow Conspirators a common purpose amidst the mayhem.

‘l think myself that there are obviously conspiracies,’ says Power, 'but I have no idea who’s pulling the strings. If I ever find out l'll write a book about it. I write fiction, they are stories, they are things that could happen, not things that do happen, let’s make that very clear.

‘But all of these conspiracies are done in an effort to find a solution because the British Government is not prepared to do anything about it. Things like the Anglo-Irish agreement are laughable; it’s like asking the Argentinian government to help with the running of the Falkland Islands. It’s part of this huge ambivalence about Northern Ireland and it would take a tool like Garret Fitzgerald to accept it.’ Do you get the impression that Children of the North will not pull any punches? (Philip Parr)

Children of the North will be on BBC2 on Wednesday 30 October.

Bell stars

‘llellI-ooo’. Native New Yorker Laurie Pike’s dulcet tones proved a major incentive to watch the recent cult success Manhattan Cable, and she returns to host a British open access show Bing My Bell on Channel 4. With the same ingredients of live, rough and occasionally embarrassing loose chat, the new series looks set to attract a similarly fanatical following.

Bing My Bell will allow you the viewer to call In and talk to one of the live celebrities on offer on any subject under the sun. ‘lt’s great for the viewer,‘ says Pike, because they get access to the person they’ve always wanted to speak to, and it’s great for the celebrities because they get to speak their mind without going through a presenter. It’s their only chance to be on TV unedited.’

Tony Benn, Ronnie Spector and Barbara Windsor are among the guests lined up for early programmes, with the producers going for a wide variety of conversational topics. ‘Some will be funny and accessible,’ says Pike, ‘but some could get very serious because the public will be calling up people they have grievances about. It really depends on the viewer.’

Subject matter will be the choice oi the caller with the only limitations being legal ones. Pike has discovered that the libel laws are somewhat tougher over here than In the States. As

5 smart about it), . a... . ,l'

for anyone looking for cheap thrills, she issues a stern warning. ‘The show is not like some gratuitous sex thriller. If they want to talk dirty let ’em rent a porno film or call up phone sex lines, but that’s definitely not what this show isabout’

Of course the danger with this format is you attract the sort of person who embarrassed Mike Read on one of those Saturday morning shows a few years ago by (understandably it must be said) calling him a wanker. The Ring My Bell team have anticipated the problem. ‘We cut them oli,’ says Pike. “We’re monitoring calls before they go on air. It’s a dangerous show, and nerve-wracking in the extreme, but we place a faith in the British viewers, that if someone famous is on TV they’d much rather talk sensibly to them than shout obscenities.’ Do you get the impression Laurie is somewhat

overestimating her audience? If you've ;

got something constructive to say, why notgive her a bell? (Tom Lappin)

Ring My Bell starts on Channel 4 on Friday 25 October at 12.15am (OK Saturday morning if you want to be

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I Mrs Mason Sheila Auguste's play is one of21 selected from over 1000. after a nationwide competition last December. resulting in the current series. Mrs Mason comes halfway through the season. and examines infidelity from a woman‘s perspective. and a black woman at that. A ra ity for Radio Four

indt 'd. (Fri 25 ()ct. 4.45m. i

I Summerlunji Kinoshita‘s epic play is presented by Radio 'l‘hree as the last in the Japan season. A painful exploration ofJapan‘s' war trials. it provides a Japanese analysisol national guilt and responsibility. (Sun 27 ()ct. 7.30pm)

I Intimate Contactlulian (‘lary' arrives at Radio One for a weekly slot as Aunty Beeb's agony aunt. For all those questions you never dared ask. but would happily cay‘csdrop ifsomconc else asked them for you. (Starts Fri 25 ()ct. t). 30pm) I Alan Alda on a Desert Island I lawkeye pops in for a chat with Sue Law Icy. to reveal his eight favourite records, an indispensable book and a luxury item. (Radiol Sun 27()ct.12.15pml I A Meeting in Rome David Suchct and Martin Shaw exchange their hammy television roles for the very real charactersof August Strindberg and Henrik Ibsen in a what-mighthaw- been-but-ncvcr-was reconstruction of a meeting between the two famous playwrights. I Insulting AI’I A trip back through two thousand years of the insult. from yilification in Ancient Rome to ('omedy of I late inthe l990s. Historians. journalists. comedians and professional hecklers will be joining Attila the Stockbroker. (Radio4, Wed 30 ()et . 9. 15pm) I Warof the Worlds A not-to-bc-missed opportunity to hear. in its entirety for the first time in Britain. the renowned John Houseman production of War oft/re Worlds. starring ()rson Wells. and with a reputation for causing more panic in the States than a Scud attack on Saudi. (Radio 5. Thurs3l Oct. 9.30pm)

The List 25 October 7 November 1991 69