Colin Dell: not averse to the odd hot potato


If Radio Scotland’s new weekly Arts programme turns out to be as hard-hitting as it hopes to be, then it will certainly be a salutary addition to the station’s output. Culture Shock, which is getting a launch party to show how important it is, promises to dig beneath the surface of that most fragile of institutions, the ‘Art World’, in search of the real stories behind the headlines. Such investigative journalism would have been priceless last year, when galleries closed down in Edinburgh and Glasgow under mysterious circumstances and everyone blamed the Scottish Arts Council.

Colin Bell, who will present the show, is taking a post-election holiday as we go to press, but the show’s Producer, Lynne Chambers. is confident that he will not be averse to prying open cans of worms or picking up the odd hot potato. ‘I think hot potatoes will be very much Culture Shock’s line,’ she says. ‘We’re also hoping that the programme will provide a public forum for topical debate. At the moment we’re playing it very much by ear.’

Culture Shock goes out live, so there is no way of knowing what precisely the first few programmes will debate , but it’s probabaly a safe bet that David Mellor will come under some scrutiny in his new post as Secretary of State for Heritage (or ‘for Fun’, as unkind jibers have it). The much-mooted lottery for the Arts will surely be debated as well.

Christine Hamilton, Depute Director at the Scottish Arts Council is looking forward to the show, not just because it gives her lambasted organisation a chance to respond to the charges levelled against it, but because it ‘fills a gap’. ‘It will provide an opportunity for debate on the policy issues made by us and other organisations, policies like the Charter for the Arts. The SAC actually has quite good access to the media, but it’s important to have a place where issues like the Arts in recession, the role of local authorities and national funding can 'be discussed in more depth and where the issues can be tackled before they become crises.’

Hamilton has also put her finger on Culture Shock’s one potential pitfall:‘ I just hope that it will be exciting. As we all know from the last few weeks, discussion of policies can beeomerepetitious and boring.’ (Miranda France)

Culture Shock starts at on Fri 24 Apr at 12.02pm

i i i

News worthies

When David Jessel isn’t hounding ‘Crlmewatch' ior perverting the course oi justice on ‘Civil Liberties', he's hounding the press for perverting the public consciousness. A new series of the hard-hitting Hard News is about to return with Jessel in one at the hottest seats in joumallsm. The show also has a new editor, Sara Bamsden, iormerly oi Europe Express but brimming with enthusiasm about her new role.

‘l just want to make it as bright, interesting and relevant as possible,’ says Ramsden. ‘The challenge tor the series is that to a certain extent, in terms of invasion oi privacy, vicious sexual smears, etc, the papers are behaving themselves better- the Press Commission seems to be working. It's partly linancial - they haven't quite got the money to send these people down to do loot-in-the-door stuil. But there’s still plenty to cover. And i would like to change the emphasis from the standard week-in, week-out reiterating the worst sins oi the tabloids more to look at some oi the issues involved. For example, the lead story in week two Is the way in which super-drugs and miracle cures are reported in the press.’

In week one, though, the reports are irom Roy Hattersley on why Basildon remained loyal to David Amlss-was it

because all at those Essex boys and girls did too much basking in The Sun, and Roy Greenslade on the man who is still shaping his career, Robert Maxwell. While Ramsden acknowledges that ‘It’s great that the dead can’t sue‘, she is under no illusions about Hard News's popularity, or otherwise, on Fleet Street.

‘They are reputed to loath us, absolutely loath us,’ she says. ‘Because we are criticising other journalists, we have to be scrupuloust above board and very careiui in all oi our practises. What we say is that we care about what is written In the papers and we’re on the side oi the readers, to provide a right ol reply to people who've been badly treated. And we single out journalists who've done wrong most oi them don’t like that, they always want to remain anonymous.’ (Philip Parr)

Hard Hews begins its new series on Sunday 26 April on Channel 4.

:- Earls on film

Mention the aristocracy to Mike Leigh and you’d think that the director and writer oi Lite ls Sweet and High Hopes (screened on Channel 4 on 3 May) would begin a diatribe that would and sometime alter Christmas. But not at the moment. Leigh has just completed the sort oi project which 99 per cent oi liim directors would not let within thirty miles oltheirstretch limo, and it is all about the aristocracy, or one particularly eccentric element within it -the 23rd Earl Leete.

The Earl is the creation oi Jim Broadbent, one ol a pool oi actors lrequentiy used by Leigh in his projects. The tact that the big-time director has agreed to work on a one-oil, hall-hour TV show tor Channel 4, A Sense oi History, looks like a iavourirom boss to loyal employee. Hot so, says Leigh. ‘lt's the llrsttlme that I've ever directed something that somebody also wrote,‘ he explains, ‘and I made this the exception because It's just very special. Jim showed it to me out oi interest, I said we’d go ahead ii somebody would give me the money straight away, and Channel 4 were really rather brilliant. So we did it.

‘One at the many reasons i'm not interested in directing other people’s stuil is that my work involves a very elaborate acting process. It you try to do that and simultaneously work with a script, you just get into very deep water. But because I was going to work

do all that work. He’d cracked it, created the character, and it’s very much his thing. I just did the job oi directing it but in a way that worked ior him: it light entertainment people had got their hands on it they’d have lucked Hreaflyf

The spool documentary has the air at an old Panorama April Fools’ Day joke, with Droadbent becoming increasingly eccentric as the show progresses, having initially appeared quite rational, at least ior an aristocrat.

‘Funnily enough, the idea was originally tor Channel 4 to show It on 1 April,’ says Leigh, ‘and to put it out as though It were a documentary. But there was a iundamental ilaw in that they couldn’t advertise the tact Jim and I had done it. So anybody who would have really enjoyed it would think “Oh tuck me, I’m not watching this, it's about some boring old tart Tory.” It would be sell-deieating so we decided to come out about it.’ (Philip Parr) A Sense oi History is on Channel 4 on

Sunday 26 April.


I Do the Hour Radio 4‘s brilliant spoof news programme returns for a second series of incisive, cut-throat journalism and sports reporting so close to the bone that easily-offended people regularly take it seriously and ring in to complain. (Starts Thurs 23, 6.30pm) I Only the Good Die Young This new, six-part ‘techno-thriller‘ stars Siriol Jenkins as Kim. a fashion model (are all models called Kim?) who refuses to believe that her computer expert fiance Mike's car crash was actually suicide. Kim turns to Mike‘s brother Tod, also a computer scientist, for help. The answer‘s in the software, of course. (Radio 4, starts Thurs 23, 1 1pm) I 0 Love that will not letme go George Matheson was the Billy Graham of Victorian Scotland, an orator of such repute that west coasters made a point of spending their annual holidays in lncllan, where he had his parish, to hear his sermons. Matheson was also a poet. and the author of various hymns including the one that gives its name to the programme. Tom Fleming reads some of his poems in a special tribute to the man. (Radio Scotland, Sun 26. 9.30am) I Just How Guliible Are We? Studio guests and members of the Great Scottish Public help Edi Stark solve the question on cveryone‘s lips and a certain Mystery Guest offers up his/her bathroom cabinet, handbag, shopping trolley etc for the scrutiny ofa psychologist. with revealing results. (Radio Scotland, Wed 29, 9.03am) I Europe at a Hundred Tongues In the second programme ofthis four-part series, Billy Kay investigates attempts by the Catalans to re-establish their language (prohibited by Franco). £500,000 is spent annually on the promotion of the language, which is now spoken by halfof all young Catalans. Next week Billy explores the current revival of interest in Gaelic, Basque, Welsh, Scots. (Radio Scotland. Wed 29, 1.30pm)



58 The List 2-1 April 7 May 1992