Regular readers (alright there, Mick and Alice?) will know that I’m not ' averse to a spot of soap and sleaze. In fact, thinking about it, rather a dangerous percentage of my life is devoted to worrying about Curly Watts’s love-life and freeze-framing the video when Jennifer Ehle or Tara Fitzgerald wander into shot.

So Julia Smith and Tony Holland’s Eldorado (BBCl) should be right down my street, right? Wrong. You have to draw the line somewhere and my felt tip would be scrawled firmly down the length of Las Terrazas, dwelling place of the most objectionable bunch of expatriate Brits since Rhodesia gained independence.

Here’s Bunny (Roger Walker). self-made ex-army man with a fondness for emptying most of the pool with his expansive belly flops. He’s picked up the 17-year-old Fizz from cardboard city and married the girl. The problem is that Fizz is played (by 16 year-old Kathy Pitkin) not as a Streetwise hussy taking the gullible old git for a ride, but as an innocent and confused teenager, more Grange Hill than ‘sinner from Pinner’. Fizz’s wardrobe has more revealing outfits than Sue Pollard but she looks peculiarly uncomfortable in them. The effect is. tacky in the extreme, verging on paedophilia Oh. but no other soap would tackle that sort of thing would theyJuha?

To balance things out we have the stunningly unappealing character of Trish Valentine (Polly Perkins). Trish is a chastity-challenged nightclub singer of uncertain age and even more uncertain voice. She hasn’t actually vamped her way through ‘Send In The Clowns‘ yet, but you know it’s not far off, and can we finish these drinks and pay the tab before she does, please? Her role is to raunch up the dialogue in the Danish massage parlour where everyone goes every ten minutes and break up/make up with 19 year-old windsurfer Dieter at regular intervals. The ‘Kraut golden boy‘ as one character describes him in the Sunspeak which makes up what passes for the script, has a limited grasp of English, having only really mastered the ‘how to be insulting’ chapter. ‘You’re a lazy cow’ he mumbles at a supine Trish in one of his more tender moments.

Oh yes, it’s not just the Brits who

are going to have to suffer this tosh.

The cast is padded out with assorted Continentals from the Swedes down to the local Spaniards, with representatives of every other potential market for overseas sales in between. Remember those classic Euro-soaps Black Forest Clinic and Chateauvallon? No? Well Eldorado’s writers are out to remind you, and they don‘t even have the excuse of bad dubbing. A typical conversation goes thus: Hunky but doomy Dane: ‘Thank for this party. I don‘t think I‘ve had such a good time.‘ Smouldering French maman: ‘They can beurgh so taydious, zese adlesson pardies.’

Jesse Birdsall plays the requisite sexy villain Marcus Tandy, although his cover was blown in episode one

‘She hasn’t actually vamped

herway through ‘Send In The

Clowns’ yet, but you know it’s not far ott.’

when it was revealed that he came from Southend. Coming from the charmless Essex resort myself I can reveal that it is unlikely to produce anyone of any real criminal talent. Idiots yes, villains no. I had a brother-in-law once (Essex marriages last about as long as the wedding reception karaoke party) who ran a car repair business. The trouble was his only talent was for resprays. A customer would come in with a damaged exhaust and he‘d get a respray. ‘Dodgy brakes, guv? How about a respray. Gear-box trouble? What you need is a new paint job mate.‘ What’s worrying is that he made a fortune.

Eldorado has deservedly picked up plenty of critical abuse in its first week, although a number of reviews have suggested that this is par for the course, that all soaps are intrinsically trash fodder for the plebs. Far from it. With few exceptions, the British shows enjoy a standard ofwriting and acting that far outstrips their American and most of the Australian counterparts. Coronation Street was nominated for a BAFIA award last year on merit, and even in a lean period it’s still infinitely more compelling than Eldorado. Poor old beleaguered taxi-driver Don Brennan is looking as if he’s going to be the first man written out of a major soap piece by piece. They lopped off his leg last week. What will go next? (Tom Lappin)

rrrrvrsron mamm-

A selection oi television highlights. listed by day, in chronological order. Television Listings compiled by Tom Lappin. Schedules from 26 July are likely to be heavily interrupted by a certain sporting event in Barcelona.


I Bottom (BBC‘Z) 9—9.3(lpm. Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson deal out bum jokes by the score in a repeat run ofthe strangely popular sitcom.

I The Queen 01 Mean (BB(‘l HRH—l 1pm. A tacky TV movie starring Suzanne Pleshette as crooked New York socialite Leona Helmsley. Using marriage asa stepping stone out of pove rty. Leona is driven by a greed for wealth and pow cr. Once they are gained she becomes a dictatorial taskmastcr with a penchant for tax evasion.

I Roseanne (Channel 4) Iii—10.30pm. Roseanne's sister Jackie is persuaded by her analyst to date dull accountant Art. despite Jackie's natural reluctance.

I Deadly Nights: Road House ((‘hannel 4) 11.30pm- l . 15am. No. calm down at the back there. it's not Patrick Swayze. The distinctly less sexy Richard Widmark plays a psychopathic road-house owner plotting a vicious revenge on manager (‘ornell Wilde who‘s been chatting up singer Ida Lupino.


I Tour De France 1992 ((‘hanncl 4) ().3(l—7pm. Stage 13 in the pedalling marathon features five tortuous climbs and a strenuous 254km to cover as we head for Italy.

I Telethon '92 (Scottish) 7.3(l—l 1.20pm on Sunday. Twenty-eight hours offrantic fundraising from those chirpy independent television people. The Scottish end is handled by Paul Coia and Viv Lumsden in Glasgow and Lorraine Kelly. Bryan Burnett and Janice Forsyth in Edinburgh. You pays your money and you switches channels.

I The Big Picture Show (Channel 4) 7—8pm. Emma Freud and her team look at the situation in Northern Ireland and discuss the possibility of an alternative long-term solution.

I Columbus And The Age Of Discovery: The Crossing (BBCZ) 7.2(1—8. lllpm. Mauricio Obrcgon narrates the story ofColumbus's historic 70—day voyage across the Atlantic and looks at the modern replicas ofthe three ships. built by the Spanish Navy as part of the quinccntcnary celebrations.

I Arena: Sportsvvriter- The Fight. The Match And The Race (BBCZ ) 8. 10—9. lllpm. A film exploring the life ofa sportswriter.

specifically Hugh Mcllvanney of The Observer. as he reports three events: a boxing match. an England football international and the (Theltenham (iold Cup.

I GD“ (Channel 4) ‘)—i(l.35pm. The fifth part of the Blcasdale drama finds Michael Murray fighting fit after a night with Barbara and attempting to wrestle back control of his life and the city.

I Rhythms Of The World: A Night Out In Finland- Tango In A Minor Key ( BBQ)

9. 10—10. 10pm. l'nlikely as it seems.thosc crazy Finns go mad for the Latin rhythms of the tango. although they bringa peculiarly Arctic sensibility to the dance. Finland's ’tango king' of the 40s. ()lavi Virta. is enjoying something of a renaissance. and tango rhythms are being incorporated into new pop songs.

I Roxanne (BBC) )9.3(l—l 1 . 15pm. Steve Martin's take on the ('yrano l)e Bergerac tale is. you‘ve guessed it. a broad comedy. He plays the healthily-proboscised (big nost to you) fire chief(‘[) Bales whose love for beautiful astronomer Roxanne Kowalski (Darryl Hannah) dare not speak its name. You know the story after that. I Cinema! Cinema!: Une Femme Est Une Femme((‘hannel4) lil.35pm—12.l(iam. Doesn't miss a trick. old Jean-Luc (iodard does he‘.’ This is actually an atypically entertaining comedy from old misery-guts. starring Anna Karina as a nightclub stripper w ho. desperate to have a baby and settle down. turns to her lover‘s best friend Jean-Paul Belmondo.


I American Chronicles: Diamonds Are Forever/T he Future That Never Was ((‘hannel 4) 5—5.3(lpm. Lynch and Frost look at major league baseball in the first film. and the predicting the future industry in the second.

I Europe Express ((‘hannel 4 ) s—s. 30pm. The acclaimed Iiuropean current affairs series with Isabella Stasi (‘astriota reporting from Rome. Klaus Schwagrzinna from Berlin. Stefan Rybar from l’raguc and Marie (iuichoux from Paris.

I Talking Heads: Bed Among The Lentils (BB(‘2)S.1(l—‘)pm. The Alan Bennett season continues with this Maggie Smith monologue. She plays a \‘icar's wife w ith a rather greater fondness for drinking than worshipping.

I Pavarotti In The Park ((‘hanncl 4) 8.31l—lll.25pnt. The tenor with tidy tonnage filmed at Hyde Park last year. singing with the Philharmonia Orchestra and belting out all the smash-hit faves.

I Cinema! Cinema!: Les Cousinsichannel 4) lZ.35-2.35am. (‘laudc ('habrol‘s witty study of a complex relationship between provincial law student (ierard Blain and his arrogant urbane cousin Jean-(‘laude Brialy. Sort ()l‘ The Odd ( ‘(mplr' gt) Paris. Well. not much.

I MoviedromezAlligatori1313(2)

9.55—1 1.40pm. A wonderful schlockotale of a baby alligator growing toenormoUs size after being flushed into the New York sewer system. Loads of people get crunched before the miscreant reptile is brought to justice. lfoversized amphibians are your bag. stay on this channel for Q The Winged Serpent immediatelyafterwards.


I Secret History: The Last Days 01 Aldo Moro ((‘hanncl4)9Ll(lpm. in 1978. Red Brigade terrorists kidnapped former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro and 55 days later dumped his body in the heart of Rome. Secret History examines the suspicious inability of the police and secret service to trace Moro‘s abductors.

I Little Richard Wrecked My Marriage (Channel 4) Ill-10.55pm. A new seasonof ten innovative films opens with this comedy drama following the lives ofthree women from a (ieordie miningv illagc.

The List 17—30 July 1992 57