Channel Hoppi

A new sport is gripping the nation‘s long-term unemployed. insomniacs and undiscerning gogglers alike. and it‘s all the fault ofThe Winter Olympics (BBC). I speak not ofthe luge, the Alpine skiing. no not even the four-man bob. but ofthe pursuit that dare not come clean and speak its name. that ofgusset gazing.

Maybe it‘s just the company I keep. but this sordid practice was mentioned to me on two separate occasions last week by acquaintances ofdifferent gender. One (female) enthused avidly about the speed-skaters‘ choice ofclinging groin-attire. The secret here is to minimalise air-resistance which meant that the lads with the largest knobbly bits were at a slight disadvantage. although they attracted large crowds ofgawping females for every broadcast. so weren‘t too unhappy.

‘The lads with the largest knobbly bits were at a slight disadvantage, although they

attracted large crowds of

gawping lemales for every broadcast, so weren’ttoo unhappy.

Another friend spoke in awe of the French ice-dancers' costumes, the like ofwhich he hadn‘t seen since he gatecrashed his girlfriend’s Anne Summers party. The dancers themselves complained that the judges were marking them down for revealing too much. but a breakdown of the BBC‘s viewing figures will make interesting reading. BSkyB must have been fuming that all this was happening in the week they chose to launch their Adult Channel, offering sad dish-owners the opportunity to watch softcore Electric Blue films for around a quid a week.

Back at Albertville. the Brits weren‘t revealing much. and were winning nothing. The great white hope of British speed skating was WilfO'Reilly. a splendidly Corinthian name for a man we hadn‘t heard ofuntil last week but were now confident was going to grab gold for Britain. In the semi-final he crashed into the boards at the side. Now I‘m no expert. but

that sounds like a pretty elementary

error for a skater, akin to drowning in the 100 metres freestyle. or falling into the meat in soccer.

Meanwhile in the figure skating, North Shields‘ very own Joanne Conway performed a routine that stuck out like a church hall tap dancer guesting with the Bolshoi. To a ham-fisted show-tune medley she bounced around the ice in a costume that looked like it had come out of a What Everyone Wants bargain box. One ofthe judges accidentally pressed the wrong button and marked Conway a whole point less than she intended. No one really noticed . . .

You can understand the cravings of the gusset-gazers. There has to be some device. however degraded. for eliciting a grain ofentertatnment

from this 16-day farrago. It’s not sport in the real sense ofthe word, in that the medals are decided either by the clock, or by a team ofjudges whose partisan decisions make the Eurovision Song Contest look like a meeting ofthe United Nations Harmony Division. You can visualise the thought processes as the hugely disparate scores come up: ‘Bloody Yanks with their flash gear, they’re only gettingS from me‘; ‘I can‘t stand these Germans, 4.7 will do‘; ‘She‘s crap but at least she‘s British. give her 5.5‘. In the end you have to suspect that the whole thing is an international conspiracy to keep David Vine in employment.

All blokes are shifty criminal types dividing their time between beating up their womenfolk, betting heavily on the horses, sexually harassing their colleagues and smuggling cocaine for international drugs cartels. That was the message from the first episode ofthe mini-cab drama Bides(BBC1) and hey. maybe it‘s the company I’m keeping again, but that rang true enough with me. What was preposterous was that all the women were saintly ultra-honest heroines, helping old ladies across roads, being generally reliable and all very sisterly. It was a crude piece of ‘positive‘ stereotyping, perhaps a result of First Episode Syndrome, where the writers have to establish their premise swiftly. Next week. we are promised, one ofthe women causes irritation at the taxi company. I bet she turns out to be a man in drag. (Tom Lappin)


A selection oi television highlights, listed by day. in chronological order. Television Listings compiled by Tom Leppin.


I Short Stories: Learning To Be Ladles (Channel 4) 8.30—9pm. A new series ofthe documentary strand opens with a look at the English finishing school where the vital arts ofdeportment. music appreciation. dinner party conversation and how to descend a staircase gracefully are taught.

I Cheers (Channel 4) 9—9.3(lpm. Woody moonlights at a cemetery to pay for an engagement ring. How exactly do you moonlight at a cemetery?

I Growing Rich (Scottish) 9— lllpm. Yet more Fay Weldon on the small screen after the recent Cloning ()fJounnu May. This six-part comedy drama is the story of three girls stuck in art East Anglian rural rut seeking escape in the hands ofthe Devil. cunnineg disguised as Spandau Ballet man Martin Kemp. To cut a long story short . . .

I Arena: The incredible Case or Comrade Bockstar(BBC2)9—10.30pm. The extraordinary tale of Dean Reed. He went to acting school with Phil Everly in Hollywood. became a hit singer in South America and was recruited by a Soviet youth official. Settling in East Berlin in tltc 70s. he became the biggest rock star ofthe Communist world. the ‘Red Elvis‘ who attracted scenes reminiscent of Beatlemania behind the Iron Curtain. His death in 1986 remains shrouded in mystery. with runtours of KGB plots. CIA assassination. jealous husbands and avenging fascists.

I Dream On (Channel 4) ill-10.35pm. A poker session gets out of hand when Martin's brash Australian boss crashes the game.

I Rock The Box: Roadie (Channel 4)

12. Ill—2.05am. A trashy but enjoyable good ole boy comedy starring Meatloaf as an electronics wizard who sets out on the road with the ultimate ambition of meeting Alice Cooper. every kid's idol. Sort of Bill/ind Ted for the late 70s. Look out fora cameo appearance by Debbie Ilarry.


I Right To Beply (Channel 4) 6.3(i—7pm. Sheena McDonald hosts another set of viewers‘ complaints and ideas and offers them a chance to tackle the programme-makers with their objections. I Standing Room Only- In Africa (BBCZ) 7. 15—8. 15pm. The soccer fanzinc show returns with an in-depth report about African football. Presented by Simon O‘Brien and John Fashattu it uses the recent African Nations Cup as a starting point for an investigation into the continent‘s football revolution. I Fine Cut: Lessons Of Darkness ( BBCZ) 8.15-9.05pm. A series of feature-length documentaries offering independent directors the chance to combine their skills with their current passions. Werner I-Icrzog and Paul Berriffjoin forces to produce an impressionistic documentary about the after-effects of the war in Kuwait. I TV Heaven: 1965 (Channel 4) 8—1 1.10pm. Frank Muir presents the fourth ofthe nostalgia evenings. Along with the usual selection of title sequences. commercials and snippets we are given complete screenings of an early edition of The Saint starring Roger Moore. a 40-minute show featuring Woody Allen's stand-up routine. a tacky psychiatrist

series The Human Jungle and the arts programme Tempo which somehow manages to link ballerina Lynn Seymour and the (then) young pop star Tom Jones. I GuitarLegends (BBCZ) 10.35—1 1.35pm. A new documentary series looking at the prowess of sontc famous six-string wielders. Most of them are from the dull old bluesy school where it is obligatory to close your eyes and nod your head sedately while playing. Nantes include BB King. Robert Cray. Roger McGuinn. Steve Cropper. Bo Diddley. Stanley Clarke and John McLaughlin.

I Court TV: America On Trial (Channel 4) 11.10pm—12.4(lam. Featuring footage from actual trials in the American courts. Cases include a young mother charged with injury to an infant when lteryoung son died after being given alcohol at a party.


I Scottish Lobby (BBCZ) Noon-12.30pm. The first Westminster-based programme dealing with Scottish issues. presented by parliamentary editor John Foster.

I Scottish Eye (Channel 4 ) 5 5.30pm. Duncan Campbell researched and wrote this investigation into the claims ofa Glasgow-based scientist that he was close to making a vaccine against AIDS.

I Star Chamber (Channel 4) SSH-(1pm. Politicians get a grilling front the Star Test computer in the ‘pop politics' series. Today it‘s the turn oftop Tory-Chris Patten.

I Whicker‘s World Down Under((‘hannel 4) S—SJllpm. Whicker meets the Iinglish squire who runs a stately home and a village cricket team in the suburbsof Sydney.

I So Haunt Me (BBCl is.35—u.tl5pm. Anyone for Jew islt supernatural comedy? A domestic sitcom with a difference. although whether it's enough to make it funny is open to some doubt.

I Burning Books (Channel 4) 9.30- 10pm. Featuring a discussion on tltc ethics ofa rtovel. True Crime. based on the recent Jeffrey Dahmer trial. Also rev iewed is Nicholas Baker‘s lot. a novel about a couple who meet on a sex chat line. IMastermind(BB(‘l)<).55— lll.25pm.'l‘hc erudite quiz hosted as ever by grim Icelander Magnus Magnusson. asking questions about Charles Rennie Mackintosh among others.

I Screen Two: Truly, Madly, Deeply (BBC?) 10-] 1.40pm. More supernatural stuffin Anthony Minghella's award-winning film. The excellent Juliet Stevenson plays a successful career woman . overcome with griefat the death of her lover played by sex symbol Alan Rickman. He comes back in ghostly guise. and her troubles take on a new aspect. Funny. moving and splendidly acted. it was a deserved success at the box-office. I The South Bank Show (Scottish)

10.35—1 1 .35pm. Melvyn Bragg introduces a profile of Noel Coward. music-hall performer. writer and film star who made a virtue out ofever-so-camp Britishness I Hooked (Scottish) 1 l .35pm—lltl5am. The last in the erratic series on drugs features Stuart Cosgrove looking to the future.


I Open To Question (BBCZ) 7.05—7.4Ilpm. Kate Adie faces the questions front the audience of sixth-formers and students. I Evening Shade (Channel 4) 8.3l)~‘)pm. Burt Reynolds stars as ex-pro footballer

Wood Newton taking a job as ascltool sports coach in a small town. This week it's prank week for the departing seniorson the football team.

I Cutting Edge: Looking For Billy ( Channel 4) 9—l()pm. A new run for the investigative documentary series opens with the story of a missing person. Dublin building contractor Billy Dunne went to buy a birthdav present five years ago and hasn't

The List 28 February 12 March 1992 61