When I was younger. slimmer and still had some vestige of ambition. I applied for a job as a ‘comedy researcher‘ with Granada Television. The thought ofworking in the same building as the legendary Coronation Street barman Jack Duckworth was awe-inspiring to say the least. but the interview didn’t go well. In a tiny office two wide-boys in sharp suits asked how I would transfer Sadowitz‘s act to TV. ‘Can’t be done‘. I muttered. ‘he‘s a live performer. wouldn't work on telly.’ They smiled resignedly and shook their heads. I didn‘t get the job, naturally. but I was bloody right wasn‘t I?
Gerry (I‘ll have no truck with this Jerry nonsense) Sadowitz is a comedian of genius. Let‘s get that straight from the start. He‘s got all the requisites, the delivery. the ability to manipulate an audience, the material that dredges up the great unspoken comic truths. and a visual style that says ‘clown‘ from the bowler hat and frizzy hair down to the shoddy suit and comedy badge. And any man who can induce jealous outrage in Paul Daniels has to be worthy of respect. So why is it that The Pall-Bearer’s Revue (BBC2) is such a patchy shambles?
Bowdlerisation isn't the problem per se, but the limitations imposed on Sadowitz‘s style mean more than just not being allowed to say the c word. Sadowitz revels in confronting his audience, flirting with the unacceptable and feeding offthe crowd‘s nervousness. I once saw him ask a TV producer for a fiver, ostensibly for the purposes of a trick. He ripped the fiver to shreds and cackled: ‘I fucking hate TV producers‘. Not big or clever by any stretch ofthe imagination, but the sort of gleeful mischief missing from the TV show.
The Pall Bearer’s Revue exposes Sadowitz’s inexperience in front of the cameras. The hit-or-miss edginesss of his style can be exhilarating on stage. On TV it merely seems amateurish. His undoubted talents as a magician are pointless on the box, where we are inured to camera trickery to the extent that sleight-of-hand or illusion is woefully outdated (ask yesterday’s man Daniels). What we are left with is the sight of Sadowitz ﬂoundering in a messy hotch-potch of semi-risque material (that always has to be followed by a jokey qualifier) and attempts at sketches
that are tired and derivative. It doesn‘t help that Sadowitz‘s frustration is there for all to see. The poor man‘s dying out there.
High passion. tempestuous al fresco couplings and the plaintive bleating of the sheep in the background. but hey, that’s enough about Emmerdale. what about A Time To Dance (BBCI)? The three-part series had its knockers. to say the least. but by the end of the third episode. I was all for giving medals to the three principals for their heroic performances in the face ofdisastrous material. They didn't rescue the series by any means, but
you couldn‘t help but admire their courageous fight against the inevitable.
I‘ve always found Melvyn Bragg a reasonably admirable sort ofchap. down-to earth. but sensitive with it. That said. A Time To Dance was an abysmal novel and a daft screenplay. The characters were crudely drawn class stereotypes: Andrew the bank manager an anally retentive dullard who planned every move on a word-processor that could only type capitals; Bernadette, the 18 year-old object of his adoration a ‘scrubber- on-a-pedestal‘, rescued from her doomed existence as the child of yobbish hard-drinking working-class folk by the love (but ultimately money) ofa ‘decent‘ educated chap. The sex scenes oozed menopausal fantasy all over the page and screen, but perhaps the most obscene image was the soft-focus Flake advert final shot of Bernadette smiling compliantly while Andrew whispered her name like an 0898 caller. Yuk.
That Ronald Pickup and Dervla Kirwan instilled some degree of l conviction and dignity to their roles was a substantial achievement. Kirwan had the hardest job, as Bernadette is not really a human being at all but a voyeur’s invention
cursed with ‘problems‘ to make her sensitive above the norm of her i lumpen family. In the third episode Rosemary McHale as Andrew’s dying wife was responsible for the only truly moving scene in the whole thing, reminiscing about her i courtship in a sequence that was both touching and written in a way markedly superior to what went before. In the end though, this moment ofpoignancy only served to underline how blatantly melodramatic and soulless the rest of the production was. (Tom Lappin)
Looking for an alternative to Anneka Rice polluting your telly? Check out the latest video releases tilting the shop shelves over the next two weeks.
I Crazy From The tleart (PG) Comedy romance usually means yucks rather than yuks. but this is a rare exception. Christine Lahti plays a bored teacher running off to Mexico with school janitor Ruben Blades. When they return after their weekend. their lives have changed forever. (First Independent)
I Edward Scissorhands (PG) One ofthe best films of 1991. directed with customary playfulness by Tim Barman Burton. Johnny Depp is the Gothic creation of a mad scientist who pegs out before he can refashion Eddie‘s ironmongery hands. Eddie is rescued by a kindly Avon lady. and before you can say ‘snip snap‘. he's fallen love with her daughter. Winona Ryder. Part social satire. part fairy-story. part high-school romance. it‘s all magical. with an excellent performance from Depp. and some memorable comedy moments thrown in. (Fox) I Omen IV ( 15) Yes,a (15). Looks like aTV movie. and is about as scary as Seooby 000 (that scary? - Ed). Reprising most of the plots from the previous three. without the gore and hair-raising bits. (Fox)
I New Jack City ( 18) A stylish thriller from Mario Van Peebles with the emphasis on the visuals and never mind the plot (Italian and black cops squabbling while trying to bust a drugs ring). Looks great with regular doses of what our film editor described as ‘L'zi fire and hot babe action‘. Ice T and Wesley Snipes star. (Warner)
I Conspiracy Of Silence (15) A US TV movie based on the true story of a brutal racist murder that shocked at small town and caused national outrage. A 19 year-old native Cree girl was savagely murdered by four white men. who proceeded to boast about their crime in the town. A police investigation was stalled by the townspeople's refusal to cooperate. It would take sixteen years for the truth to emerge. (Odyssey)
I Return To The Blue Lagoon ( 15) You must remember The Blue Lagoon 1’ Brooke Shields and that pretty blond boy. discovering each other on a tropical island. No? Well. you can experience much the same execrable blend of soft-focus ‘sensitivity‘ as much the same tale is told verbatim in the sequel. starringthe less-than- household names Garette Ratcliff and Milla Jovovich. Guess which one's the bloke. (RCA/Columbia)
I State 01 Grace ( 18) (MCEG Virgin)
I One Good Cop(15) (Bucna Vista)
I Rosencrantz And Guildenstem Are Dead (PG) Tom Stoppard
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directs the movie version of his own 60s Fringe stagc hit. It won the best film at the Venice Film Festival in 1990. (Bucna Vista)
I K“ And The Widow: Lavisth Mounted (PG) The high society cabaret turn perform their witty songs and satirical sketches in a show shown on Channel 4 over Christmas. An acquired taste. (Island World £10.99) I Elizabeth R (U) Classic costume drama from the BBC archives. Their landmark portrait of Good Queen Bess is eminently watchable. if historically dubious. (BBC £10.99) I Pollyanna (1)) Devil-worshipping child molesters terrorise a New England rural community. Or something like that. (I3BC£19.99) I Magic Roundaboutw) Fighting back against Channel 4'scarly- morning spins on the Roundabout. the BBC retaliate with some classic adventures featuring Dougal. Florence. Iirmintrude and all the gang. (BBCL‘7.99) I Lilesense (1.) (BBC £19.99) I Seatrek ( U) Sensitive New Age types swim with the dolphins (in a platonic fashion) and go ‘wow' a lot. Wonderful undersea footage though. (BBC £14.99) I The Last Of The Summer Wine: A Quiet Drink ( 1:) Roy Clarke‘s grim codge rs linger on painfully. Put them out oftheir misery someone. (BB(‘£1(l.99) I Blake's Seven: Children DtAuror/Rumours 0t Death (U) (BBC£1().99) I Blake's Seven: Sarcophagus/Ultraworld (U)(BBC£1().99) I Dr Who: Logolopolis(U) (BB(‘£1().99) I DrWho: Castrovalva (U) (BBCfll).99) I Sing Along Songs- Heigh Ho (U) (Bucna Vista £8.99) I Sing Along Songs- Disneyland Fun ([1) (Bucna Vista £8.99)
The List 31 January — 59