never ever,’ he replies unconvincingly. But the man who once co-wrote a play about the ill-effects of pornography has not lost his political sensibilities altogether. Wisely he doesn't regard the sitcom as a major forum for debate. but, equally, if he can stir up the placid waters of prime—time TV, he’s happy to do so. ‘I think you can‘t deny extremism,‘ he says. ‘A lot of sitcom provides a world where the only extremes are manufactured ones. I’m not saying I‘m a great chronicler of reality. but I‘m more interested in extremity than I am blandncss. You show quite a lot of extremities to provide a rich mix, rather than an extreme leaning.‘
ln Dad on Arrival. that rich mix takes in
the small-minded 70s conservatism of Willies
— ‘A voted Tory. That’s no working class.’ — and pits it against the values of modern-day feminism —- his daughter has renamed herself ()va and given birth to a baby by a father who ‘donated‘ his sperm. McKay also makes room for religious and racial bigotry, careful to avoid didacticism. but making sure the bad guys see the error of their ways. ‘I like to have my cake and eat it.‘ he admits. ‘I like to do lots of things at once and I don‘t see any reason not to. I‘m not promulgating a party line .'
McKay makes no big claims. What he’s
~—--.-.‘; ' .
you . .
doing, he says, is a half-hour funny show that is hardly likely to change people’s lives. He is, however, in a position to tinker with the parameters of the sitcom. ‘Most women in male-centred sitcoms are a kind of set dressing,’ he says. ‘There’ll be a woman
‘l’m not saying I’m a great chronicler of reality, but I’m more interested in extremity than I am in blandness.’
involved, a wife or a girlfriend, they‘re sometimes given funny lines, but the whole context of the character is a straight to the central character — the Funny Man. You‘ll see it in the Radio Times billing, you know: “Jimmy finds himself in trouble again, but Carol provides a stable, foot-on-the-ground force in his life.” Jools is a girlfriend character, but because Eck is so up-tight. over-analytical and right-on, I thought it would be funny to have a woman who, like many women, is perfectly in control of her own destiny. It’s not that she is some kind of French maid crawling on top of him while he backs off, as it happens in farce, it’s just that she’s straight-forward where he’s not. She has the position normally associated with a man in drama. When the relationship
DEAD DAD DOG
Eclt (extended amazement) You . . . .em . . . you‘re . . . deid. Willie Oh aye. Right enough. But A wouldnae mind a cup of tea.
Eclt double-takes and slaps himself.
Eck To em Heaven?
Pause. Eck Well.
hadnae gone upstairs yet, you see.
Willie Oh aye. Heaven. Aye.
doesn’t work out, when their coitus is interrupted, she regrets it. but she doesn’t rush off clutching her bodice to herself going, “Oooh, ooh, sauce, well I never
Having emerged unscuffed from the ITV franchise fiasco, Scottish is backing Dad 0n Arrival to the hilt. For Channel 4, for whom the series is being made, Michael Grade himself has expressed eagerness to see more comedy of this kind coming out of Scotland. And director Alan Nixon hopes that it will set a precedent that Scottish Television will want to follow. ‘My impression of Scottish comedy is that it all comes from the BBC,’ he says. ‘They’ve done a great job at giving Scottish comedy a face south of the border. This is just a start. One sitcom should be a springboard to many. It takes a long time, there isn’t that much money for that many shows. but if you can get it three-quarters of the way right first time, other people can come and follow it up.’
A limited number of tickets to watch the filming of Dad ()n Arrival on 9, 16 and 23 January are available by sending an SAE to DOA (L), Scottish Television. Cowcaddens, Glasgow 02 3PR.
Dad on Arrival will be broadcast on Channel 4 in the spring.
Willie appears betore Eek just when he least expects it
But Willie is still there.
Eek F.m, Dad, I mean you are deid aren‘t you? I mean you’ve no just been hiding out in East Kilbride or somewhere. done a bunk, like? Willie Oh no. A’ve been deid . . . oh . . . twelve year now. You should ken that. A saw yez at the funeral. Eck You saw me at the funeral. Willie Oh aye. (winks) A wis watchin.
Eck Like how? From the coffin or what?
Willie Well sort of in and out. A
Willie Well what?
Eck Well what's it like?
Willie What's what like?
Willie Oh fine. Fine. Rains a lot. Bit like Rothesay, really.
Eek So . . . why? I mean why? Willie Am A here? Oh A don‘t know really. A‘m a bit scunnered maself. I didn‘t put in for it or anythin.
Dead Dad Dog is published in Scot Free
(Nick Hem Books £7.95)
Dead Dad Dog by John McKay ((3 I990.
The List 20 December 1991 — 16 January 1992 9