Channel Hopping

As someone who has been known to

watch both Prisoner Cell Block H and The Time Tunnel I’ve come across some extremely credulity-stretching plots in my time, but the storyline played out last Friday night would have had the Roy Of The Rovers editorial conference laughing out loud and reaching for the reality pills.

Our hero, a shy part-time footballer who plays for a small local club, was sitting by the hospital bed of his small daughter as she recovered from an emergency operation that will hopefully alleviate the effects of leukaemia. She persuades her tearful Dad that he has to rejoin his national side as their in jury-torn squad attempts to overturn the mighty world champions in the final of the European Championship.

Fifteen minutes from time, Kim Vilfort (for it is he) slipped past a couple of German defenders (there was a suspicion of hand ball but not enough to spoil the moment) and hit a low left-footed shot in off the post. 2-0 to Denmark, and the Germans (perfectly cast in the role of villains, with plenty of play-acting and some horrendous tackles that resulted in five bookings) were well beaten, by a side that had only been in the tournament because of a UN boycott against the Yugoslavs.

As Vilfort collapsed in ecstasy and his heroic team-mates piled on top of him one after the other in an orgasmic red and white pyramid, we had a classic example of the Great TV Moment, sufficient to banish forever the memory of a singularly unappetising tournament (the highlight up till then had been the local skinheads chanting ‘we are yellow, we are blue, we are Swedish, fuck you’). As we head into the heart of a TV summer dominated by

sporting coverage, we can take some consolation that sport is a terrific provider of TV extremes, where naked emotions, not necessarily all

as wholesome as Vilfort’s, are captured for posterity. Who can forget Kriss Akabusi’s final victorious surge in the World Championship 400 metres relay, Gazza’s tears or Arazi (when he could run) weaving through the field at last year’s Breeders’ Cup meeting?

The trouble is, for every second of pure uncensored human (or equine) drama, we have several hours ofdull punditry and analysis, for every Vilfort or Tomas Brolin, there is a Jimmy Hill or a Ron Atkinson throwing a bucket ofcold water over the hot-blooded romance ofwhat we have just seen.

That Hill continues to be employed as a soccer analyst is a source of some amazement, either at the BBC’s tolerance of his crazed and ill-informed views on the game, or at the cast-iron contract he must have negotiated back in the 603. The man whose chin has had countless viewers reaching for the horizontal hold has been a figure of scorn with fans for decades, to the extent that it’s become an amusing diversion to monitor the lengths that sound engineers go to muffle crowds‘ chants of ‘Jimmy Hill’s a bastard’ at televised games. The joke’s

‘As Vilfort collapsed in ecstasy and his heroic team-mates piled on top of him one afterthe other in an orgasmic red and white pyramid, we had a classic example of the GreatTV Moment.’

. beginning to wear thin though. Hill

has become the televisual equivalent of an eccentric old uncle who turns up every Christmas and rambles on unchecked. You get the impression that Des Lynam and Terry Venables are whispering ‘humour him, he’ll fall asleep in a minute’ at each other as the chin offers his increasingly ludicrous opinions to a dumbfounded nation.

TV tennis buffs tuning into Wimbledon (BBC) this year are also missing something. Most ofthe ingredients are present and correct: Monica Seles and her frustrated moans, Boris Becker engaging in his regular investigation of the deeper recesses of his nostril, Andre Agassi flashing his torso to screaming girlies, but something’s missing. Oh yes, it’s Dan. Darling Dan Maskell who could always fondly reminisce about between-the-wars players with names like ‘Gorgeous Gusset’ or ‘Frilly Tupper’ has hung up his microphone. Boring Barry Davies tries manfully to re-create Maskell’s trademark ‘Oh, I say!’, but while Maskell’s exclamation was in a true loopy-aristo-with-a-nasty-touch-of- gout tone, Davies’s version is that of a slimy arriviste who obviously went to one of the lesser prep schools. No class. (Tom Lappin)

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


I Wogan (BBCl) 7—8pm. The last ever edition of the blandest chat-show of all time finds our Tel reminiscing about the high and low points of his seven-year stint. comprising over 650 hours of shallow banter.

I The Music Game (Channel 4) 8.30—9pm. Tony ‘lnnuendo‘ Slattery presents the desperately cheap and mindless music quiz asking questions that range from rock to baroque. with guests Lucie Skeaping. Reg Presley and Kate Copstick.

Iaollom (BBC2) 9-9.30pm. Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson deal out bum jokes by the score in a repeat run of the strangely popular sitcom.

I Ring 0i Scorpio (BBC1)9.30-10.20pm. Helen remembers the betrayal by the charming Richard (Jack Scalia) that led to her imprisonment. Should she reveal his guilt? Go on. doit.

I Black And White In Colour: The Lenny Henry Show (BBC2) 10— 10.30pm. A repeat showing of Lenny‘s 1984 show with guests French And Saunders and Nicholas Lyndhurst.

I Roseanne (Channel 4) l()—l().3()pm. Roseanne and Jackie say an emotional goodbye to their childhood home which is due for demolition. Darlene. meanwhile. continues her friendship with Mark‘s younger brother David.


I Tour De France 1992 (Channel 4) 6.30—7pm. The Basque port ofSan Sebastien hosts the first stage ofthe 79th Tour. It‘s an 8km sprint. with Miguel lndurain hotly tipped to do the business in front of his home support. See preview.

I The Big Picture Show (Channel 4) 7-8pm. Emma Freud presents a new current affairs series that claims to analyse important issues ‘without recourse to the empty rhetoric of party politics'. The opening programme looks at the problem ofcrime and asks why the crime level continues to rise.

I Columbus And The Age Di Discovery: Columbus’s World (BBC2)8.20-9.10pm. Mauricio Obregon narrates the first programme in a seven-part series looking at the voyages and the world ofColumbus. We start with the cxplorcr‘s background. in the merchant city ()fGCl‘lOZi.

I GBI'I (Channel 4) 9—10.50pm. Jim Nelson is still holding out against the intimidation of the pickets. while Michael Murray continues his crude courtship of the mysterious Barbara Douglas.

I Rhythms Of The World: Shake, BeatAnd Dub (BBC2) 9. 10—10. 10pm. The relationship between Caribbean poetry and jazz is explored in the words and music of Shake Keane and Linton Kwesi Johnson.

I Teenage Diaries: Julie Through The Looking Glass (BBC2) 10. 10—1 1pm. Julie is a highly intelligent scventccn-ycar-old anorexic living with four others with the same disorder in the home of Dr Dee Dawson. We follow her progress and share her mini-triumph when she is able to eat a meal.

I Tom Jones - The Right Time (Scottish) 10.20-10.50pm. The voice ofthe valleys takes a stroll down the history of rhythm ‘n‘ blues with guests Joe Cocker and Curtis Stigcrs.

I Shanghai Surprise (Scottish) 10.30pm—12. 15am. A piss-poor sub-Romancing The Stone yarn (or yawn)

starring Sean Penn and Madonna back in the days when they were America‘s loudest couple.

I Cinema! Cinemal: Les Bonnes Femmes (Channel4) l().50pm—12.3()am. More French flammery in Claude Chabrol‘s tale of four girls who seek romance and excitement in Paris. With Bernadette Lafont, Stephane Audran. Clothilde Joano and Lucille Saint-Simon.


I American Chronicles: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow/Thick Stop (Channel 4) 5—5.30pm. Lynch and Frost look at life on the road for a traditional tented circus. meeting the performers and findingout whether the circus still has any magic left. I Watching The Detectives (Channel 4) 7—8pm. On the trail of stolen boats with private eye Peter Clark. who tracks the hot vessels from London to the Costa Del Sol.

I The Richard And Judy Show (Scottish) 7.15—7.45pm. Well-known supermarket browser Richard Madelcy and gormlcss wife Judy host a no-doubt sickening live chat show series.

I A Night In With Alan Bennett ( BBCZ)

7. 15pm—12.35am. Bennett. the has forerunner of Morrissey. has been given the key to the BBC archives and told to pick out what he fancies. The boy doesjust grand as well. selecting gems like Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads (7.55pm) and Mike Leigh'sAbigail's Party (8.25pm). A Bennett season starts the following Sunday.

I Europe Express (Channel 4) 8—8.3(lpm. A new series of the acclaimed European current affairs series with Isabella Stasi Castriota reporting from Rome. Klaus Schwagrzinna from Berlin. Stefan Rybar from Prague and Marie Guichoux from Paris.

I Sound Stuii: Tumim lied (Channel 4) 8.30—9.3(lpm. Music features strongly in the courtship rituals in the South Chimbu province of Papua New Guinea. although it takes a more traditional form than turning the lights down low and sticking Barry White on the CD player.

I Heart Of The Matter(BBCl) 10.20—10.55pm. Four years ago, artist John Bellany underwent a liver transplant. Throughout his illness and hospitalisation. Bellany continued to paint. recording his experiences. In this film. repeated to coincide with Bellany's new exhibition in Glasgow. he talks to Joan Bakewcll about the hope he discovered on the road to recovery and renewed health.

I Cinema! Cinema!: Les Amants (Channel 4) 11.55pm—l .3()am. That‘s The Lovers to

. those ofyou who failed French 0 Grade.

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Louis Malle‘s controversial (at the time) ! scorcherstarsJeanne Moreau asa bored I provincial wife who embarks on a passionate affair with a young man who gives her a lift home.

The List 3- mini—{1.952 65