Not so long ago we were thrilling (and perhaps less socially acceptable participles) to The Camomile Lawn; a serial, you will remember, that featured the splendidly haughty Richard Johnson as the elder Oliver, 3 dry man of letters recalling his lost love from idyllic days before the war, and trying desperately to retrieve something from a wasted life. Tara Fitzgerald turned up in regular states of undress as Polly, a determined young woman preferring to play the ﬁeld rather than reserve her charms for one man.
A couple of months later we have Anglo-Saxon Attitudes (Scottish) in which Richard Johnson plays Gerald, a dry man of academe, recalling the lost love of idyllic days before the war, and trying desperately to retrieve something from a wasted life. Tara Fitzgerald regularly displays possibly the most recognisable nipples on British television as Dolly, a determined young woman etc, etc . . .
‘Tara Fitzgerald regularly displays possibly the most recognisable nipples on British television as Dolly.’
Superficial resemblances perhaps, but backed up by another similarity: The Camomile Lawn was a marvellously witty, well-ac‘ted and inﬁnitely watchable TV drama; Anglo-Saxon Attitudes is almost as compelling. Andrew Davies (who also gave us the superior Very Peculiar Practice and House Of Cards) has adapted Angus Wilson’s script to play up the broad comedy of Gerald’s plight. Looking at the dire consequences of a tragically misguided marriage to a seriously deranged Dane, and the resultant screwed-up offspring, Davies doesn’t stint on the disturbing elements, but the black humour is never far from the surface, as often achieved by visual playfulness as in the dialogue.
Elizabeth Spriggs plays the appalling Inge as a cross between a clumsily-lit Christmas tree and Helga from the Hagar The Horrible cartoon strip. It’s a performance that almost outshines an exemplary cast, but Johnson has an ability to soak up the slights and humiliations thrown
at him from all quarters and cast them back with a single doleful glance. It’s a ﬁne, robust production, and it‘s encouraging to see it on the [TV network, which of late has been proving a tad more adventurous in its drama offerings than the safe staples of country-house whodunnits and Cockney crime capers.
‘This being social realist Brookside of course poor old Del has been indulging in a crisis oi conscience ratherthan merrily ripping oil his dog collar and everything else to iollow a la Richard Chamberlain.’
The Music Game (Channel 4) is an HTV production, which begs our tolerance. After all, the Welsh have yet to come to terms with television (Pobol Y C wm anybody?) That said, it seems to be a hastily ﬂung-together hotch-potch of a show with the express aim of allowing Tony Slattery full rein to display his talent for vulgar double-entendres. A song entitled ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’ inspired the quip ‘lucky old Rose.’ If that’s the standard in the first show, you can expect even Slattery‘s inventive sewer of a mind to be struggling in the weeks ahead.
You’ve got to feel a jot of sympathy for those poor Brookslde (Channel 4) writers haven’t you? The current storyline features the woefully passive Father Derek being admonished for his sins by Catholic Church bigwigs (the ones in the ﬂowery frocks). Derek, you see, has been envisaging a spot of the old Thorn Birds-style bonding with the Farnhams’ ee-ba-goom nanny Margaret. This being social realist Brookside of course poor old Del has been indulging in a crisis of conscience rather than merrily ripping off his dog collar and everything else to follow a la Richard Chamberlain. Now that he has finally stiﬂed his inner doubt and is presumably on the brink of consummating the relationship, the bishops are ﬂocking round telling him that this sort of thing just isn’t done in the Catholic church. Now, hold on a minute . . . (Tom Lappin)
A selection oi television highlights. listed by day. in chronological order. Television Listings compiled by Tom Lappln.
I Spain On A Plate (BBCZ) 7.30—8pm. Maria Jose Sevilla heads for Catalonia where she learns to create the complex pasta dish, the fideua, and an authentic paella.
I The Music Game (Channel 4) 8.30—9pm. Tony ‘Smut‘ Slattery presents the stilted music quiz. Tonight's guests are Dublin DJ Dave Fanning, Rosemary Ashe and Miles Kington.
I Jolter In The Pack (BBCl)8.30—9pm. Just what the world needs, another ‘people show‘. Marti Caine travels nationwide to get ‘real members of the public‘ to share their excruciating jokes with the sort of sad shell-suits who tune into this sort of thing.
I Cheers (Channel 4) 9—9.30pm. Another repeat from the second series, with Diane quitting her job at the bar to prove her value in the employment market.
I Rory eremner (BBCZ) 9—9.30pm. Satire, sketches and stand-up comedy from the impressionist, joined by John Bird and John FOrtune.
I Heartbeat (Scottish) 9LlOpm. Nick Berry is the Cockney copper on location in 605 Yorkshire in an episode entitled ‘Face Value‘.
I Have I Got News For You (BBCZ) 10—10.30pm. The ruder-by-the-hour Angus Deayton hosts another edition of the news quiz with regular captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton being joined by guests Ken Livingstone and Rory McGrath.
I Roseanne (Channel 4) Ill—10.30pm. Roseanne gets her dream job — playing Santa Claus at the department store. In the process she learns a little about why Darlene is being so reclusive.
I Alade In The USA (Channel 4) 11.10—11.55pm. Laurie Pike is in Seattle checking out the rent boy scene and the Sub Pop label that spawned Nirvana, among others.
I Chilling Out: The Lair Oi The White Worm (Channel 4) 11.55pm-1 .40am. A ludicrous Ken Russell horror-comedy, camper than a row of tents. Amanda Donohoe stars as a high priestess to a snake god who snacks on suitable virgins.
I Right To Heply (Channel 4) 6.30—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 Adventures: Banana Boat (Channel 4) 8—9pm. Nigel Farrell sets off on an 8000-mile round trip from South Walesto the Caribbean in the company of eleven passengers and 15 million bananas. This ﬁlm tells how he survived the cocktails and the endless deck games.
I Rhythms Of The World: Big City-The Hidden Sounds Of London (BBCZ) 9~10pm. Continuing the journey round the immigrant populations of London, whose music serves as a way of maintaining their cultures.
I Frankie’s House (Scottish)
9. 15-10. 15pm. The third episode ofthe Vietnam War drama. Tim Page‘s world crumbles as his friends either leave or are killed.
I eiloxi Blues (BBCZ) lO—l 1.45pm. Neil Simon‘s autobiographical tale of army training camp stars Matthew Broderick as the central character Eugene , Corey
Parker as the intellectual Epstein and Christopher Walken as the eccentric disciplinarian Sergeant Toomey.
I Time Will Tell (Channel 4) 10.55pm—12.30am. The first comprehensive documentary biography of Bob Marley is presented without a conventional commentary, preferring to use Marley‘s own words and music. It traces the evolution of Marley‘s musical style and his political and spiritual beliefs.
I American Chronicles: Manhattan Alter Dark (Channel 4) 5-5.30pm. Another of the surreal Lynch/Frost documentaries, suggesting that the difference between night and day in Manhattan is no longerso clear-cut.
I Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories (BBCl) 5. 15-5.40pm. More quirky Americana with Hayley Mills as a harassed housewife driven crazy by a giant furry creature called the Greibble which drops out of the sky.
recuperate from a failed romance.
I Sound Stuil: The Search For Robert Johnson (Channel 4) 8.30—9.30pm. A film about the blues, the south. a murder and the devil. John Hammond goes offin search ofJohnson who was murdered in 1938, aged 27. Naturally, ‘his songs live on‘ as an inﬂuence on countless contemporary performers. Hammond investigates the conﬂicting and superstitious stories about J ohnson's death.
I Cross Channel (BBCZ) 8.50—9.20pm. A special dance film created by choreographer Lea Anderson featuring the dance troupes The Cholmondclcys and Featherstonehaughs.
I'A Fatal inversion (BBCl ) 9.05—1().05pm. The final episode of the three-part thriller. Adam and Rufus have learned to live with the guilt about the events in 1979. butwill the truth finally catch up with them?
I Moviedrome: Mad Max ll 920-1 1 . 10pm. George Miller‘s spectacular 1981 sci-fi thriller stars Mel Gibson as a futuristic former police patrolman drawn into a battle for the world‘s most precious commodity, petrol. Lots of punch-ups and
I Maurice (Channel 4) 10pm—12.35am. Merchant Ivory‘s second Forster adaptation after the successful Room With A View and prior to the acclaimed Howards End , was this tasteful if anodyne
DDThe List 22 May-4June1992