:— Mission mud

Next time a surly jobsworth takes your complaint at British Telecom, remember that you could be talking to a graduate of Operation Raleigh, two words to strike tear into the heart of every comty armchair. Now that companies can no longer count on public schools to toughen up their management, they send them oti tor three months oi character-forming in the jungles, swamps and sierras oi South America. The aim is to get them

very wet and cold, strip them oi dignity, ;

and teach them to ‘bond‘.

The Secret Diary oi a Tax Collector loliows Stella, 22 years old and irom Worcestershire, through a humiliating selection weekend, iollowed by twelve weeks in a Patagonian rain forest. Sponsored by the Inland Revenue, Stella isn’t too sure why she wants to do Raleigh; she has never been away trom home tor more than a lew days and the thought at leaving her duck, dog, cat, mum and dad and, most ot all, her horse Percy, are more than she can bear. In iact iorget lack oi lood, hot water and privacy, it is missing Percy that nearly drives Stella to distraction tor the iirst month oi the trek. And this is what makes the series so enjoyable a niggling contempt for Stella, with her day-charts, her Percy-mania and her pining lor Sugar Pulls.

But there’s a moral: Stella, quiet,

mousey, trumpy by her own admission, is to blossom during the course oi the series. it is she who will manage the horse-trek across the mountains, she who proves the most tolerant group memberand our Stella, ultimately, who is chosen to join four others tor a near-impossible mission through the jungle. ‘She was the one who developed most during the project,’ says Belinda Cherrington, who made the series, ‘she really grew in contidence.’ Cherrlngton is lull of praise for Stella, but really she is the programme’s unsung heroine; alter all, she not only waded across rivers, hacked through jungles and trekked through mountains-she also recorded it all. (Miranda France)

The Secret Diary of a Tax Collector starts Tue 9 Jun, 10.02am, on Radio 4.

i l _


Vonnie’s Teenage Diary

Think of a couple oi American teen-spirits let loose with a video camera and, inevitably, you come up with Wayne and Garth. The Brits are a more eclectic race, as a new TV series looks set to prove. Teenage Diaries is the sequel to the patchily successlul Video Diaries where a disparate group of people, from an Amazonian rain-forest explorer to a mixed-race South Atrican couple, were allowed to record and broadcast their experiences. The original series occasionally sultered lrom the old enemy- British reserve - leaving the audience irritated as the camera was switched oil just when things were

getting interesting. Teenage Diaries’ producer, Tony Steyger, hopes that the teenagers will be less inhibited.

‘l thinkteenagers, adolescents, have an alarming candidness,’ says Steyger. ‘Adolescence is an incredibly sell-searching time - that and the mid-lite crisis are the two big moments in everybody's lile when they are looking tor their own identity and trying to iind out who they are. Video Diaries is a medium which thrives on sell-exposure, sell-examination, selt-retlection so it is a pertect combination ot programme iormat and programme subject matter.’

The series opens with a portrait oi Vonnie, a 16-year-old in care since she was abused at the age at twelve, and then continues with ‘In Bed with Chris Needham’. Chris’s thrash metal band, Manslaughter, are preparing iortheir first gig, and the lead vocalist/guitarist uses the video camera as an electronic agony aunt contiding the tears that must remain unsaid in his ultra-macho world. Further programmes include a precocious 13-year-old luvvie called Daniel Moss who humbly sees himself as the world’s greatest director.

‘l tried to get a range ot people,’ says Steyger. ‘lt wasn’t all victims but then it wasn’t all people who wanted to make lilms about their pony or their particular ambition. Some are wingey, some are super-brattish, some are really big-headed and obnoxious, and some are really sweet and warm and cuddly and lovable. There’s a range, but they all display something at what it’s like to be a teenager.’ (Philip Parr) Vonnie’s Teenage Diary is on Saturday 6 June at 10.30pm on BBC2.


Your guide to what’s new on the VHS lront in the rental shops and on the sell-through shelves


I UnderSuspicion ( 18) A somewhat unlikely thriller carried along by an excellent performance by Liam Neeson. He plays a shady private investigator operating a divorce racket in 505 Brighton. When his wife and a client are horribly murdered he finds himselfembroilcd with the mysterious Angeline (Laura San Giacomo) and is the police‘s prime suspect for the murder. The plot defies belief but the cast is fine. notably Kenneth Cranham as the rathertoo trusting detective. (20:20 Vision)

I Nangin’ With The Homeboys (18) A consistently funny tale ofa night out in New York for four buddies. two black. two Hispanic. It's a catalogue of disasters for the guys from start to finish, but the film isa delight. relying on strong characterisation and a fine script to keep the laughs flowing and slip in a few serious points about identity at the same time. (20:20 Vision)

I London Kills Me ( 18) Hanif Kureishi wrote and directed this half-conceived tale of South London druggies. His attempt to build a film around the anomie ofa couple of drop-outs fails miserably to achieve the degree of realism he mustered in My Beautiful Laundrette. Avoid. (Columbia Tristar)

I The Addams Family (PG) The successful big-screen version of the ghoulish family was somewhat coolly received by Charles Addams purists. but retains enough ofthe original‘s bad-taste charm to be diverting. Don't

; the top and bottom ofthe

widescreen release, ic ' bloody big black stripes at

worry too much about the plot (an imposter is posing as Uncle Fester. or is he?) and concentrate on the vignettes. (Columbia Tristar)

I Party Favours (18) (First Independent)

I Takin’ ltAll 0tt(18) (First independent)

I Iron Maze ( 15) (First Independent)

I Dance 01 The Damned (15) (MCEG Virgin)

I D’Pioneers (PG) (Warner)

I The Hitman(18) (Warner)

I The Long Walk Home (PG) (Fox)

I Unknown Subject ( 15)

5 (Columbia Tristar)

I Only The Lonely(PG) (Fox)

I The Taking 01 Beverly Hills ( 15) (Guild)

I WhatAbout Bob? (PG) (Buena Vista)

I Necessary Roughness (15)(C1C)

I The People UnderThe Stairs (18) (CIC)

I Body Parts ( 18) (CIC) I Victim Di Beauty(15) (Odyssey) Sell-Through

I Reversal Di Fortune ( 15) Jeremy Irons won an Oscar for his portrayal of cool millionaire Claus Von Bulow. accused of murdering his missus. (Columbia Tristar£10.99) I Expresso Bongo (PG) (MCEG Virgin £10.99) I Mr Benn Volume Three (U) The return ofthe sinister bowler-halted gent who tries on various kinky outfits. getsthem filthy by consorting with swarthy pirates and such-like. and then returns them to the shop without so much as buying a pair of socks. (MCEG Virgin £7.99)

I Lawrence DlArabia— Widescreen (PG) For all you posey cinephilcs who like to say that video just doesn't do justice to great films, here‘s a chance to get a few of your faves on

screen. (Columbia Tristar £14.99)

I Nenry V-Widescreen (PG) (Columbia Tristar £12.99)

I Close Encounters DlThe Third Kind (Special Edition) -Widescreen (PG) (Columbia Tn'star£10.99) I My Blue Heaven (PG) (Warner£10.99)

I Cool Hand Luke (15) (Warner£10.99)

IThe Candidate (PG) (Warner£10.99)

I All The President’s Men (15) (Warner£10.99)

I Private Benjamin (15) Yo. a Goldie Hawn season on Warner video. Collect them all and watch

Ms Hawn run through all

the emotions from kooky blondness to blondc kookiness. (Warner £10.99)

I Protocol (PG) (Warner £10.99)

I Swing Shitt (PG) (Warner£10.99)

I Wlldcats(15) (Warner £10.99)

IDverboard (15) (Warner £10.99)

I The Man From UNCLE: Project Strigas Altair/Never NeverAttair (PG) (Warner £10.99)

I The Man From UNCLE: Gazebo In The Maze Attair/ Yukon Altair (PG) (Warner £10.99)

I Rabid Grannies (18) (MCEG Virgin£10.99)

I Troma's War ( 18) (MCEG Virgin£10.99)

I The Toxic Avenger Part II (MCEG Virgin £10.99)

I The Ascent(PG) (Connoisseur£12.99)

I An Untinished Piece For Mechanical Piano (U) (Connoisseur £12.99)

. .‘{..

._.. .

I An Enemy 01 The People (U) (Connoisseur£12.99)

I Mapantsula (15) (Connoisseur £12.99)

I Dekalog: 1—5 and 6-10

(15) (Artificial Eye 3 double-pack £22.49) I Four Adventures 01 Reinette And Mirabella (U) (Artificial Eye £15.99) 1

I lvan’s Childhood (PG) J

(Artificial Eyc£15.99)

The List 5 istu'nc‘ 199-2 51