Coup de Mulville

Jimmy Mulville, ex-Cambridge footlighter and giant panda suit-wearer is now one ofthe directors of the fifth fastest growing company in Britain. He talks to Philip Parr about Hat Tricks and Brain Drains.

Hat Trick Productions‘ plan for world domination continues apace. The company which brought you Drop The Dead Donkey, Have I Got News For You, Whose Line Is ltAnyway? and Harry Enfield is letting one of its big-wig directors. Jimmy Mulville (best known for the execrable That's Love and the sublime Who Dares Wins. in which he was one of the pandas). present a show.

‘Did you ever see those programmes like The Brain's Trust‘?‘ asks Mulville. ‘or Question Time is probably the nearest thing we‘ve got to it today. You get four people who pontificate about issues not specifically in that week’s news but contemporary issues global warming, the royal family. the recession. And also. other more

philosophical questions like, ‘Do you believe in heaven‘?‘. ‘Who’s the biggest dick-head in the world?’, that sort ofthing. But instead of getting politicians and the great and the good. we get comedians who come on and give their very distorted view. I suppose you could call it a cross between Question Time and The Brain '5 Trust. . . with laughs, we hope.‘

This is Mulville‘s first real venture behind the laminated desk of the quiz show host, in spite of numerous spoofs on Who Dares Wins. He can,

' though, take comfort from the fact that his pal

Angus Deayton had never taken on the role of quizmaster before the phenomenal success of Have I Got News For You.

‘We were looking for a host, and the producer Dan Paterson just asked me to come along to the auditions and have a go,’ he says. ‘As we didn‘t find anyone better, I did the pilot and really enjoyed it. I don‘t set any great store by it, I’m not the next Peter Sissons, that‘s for sure. but it's very good fun.‘

The problem with this kind of instant response show. of course, is that the audience is sceptical: if the answers are very funny, everyone says that the panellists must have known the question in advance, and if they are not, everyone switches off. ‘The panellists have a fair idea of what‘s going to come up but the fun of the programme is in the free-for-all conversation that develops from that,’ claims Mulville. ‘I did JustA Minute and they send you the subjects two weeks in advance. But then you start offwith your question and you get a buzzer and you're completely fucked. Everything you‘ve prepared goes out of the window.’ But, as they say, to hilarious effect something which Mulville will be hoping to re-create on The Brain Drain. prast successes are any guide, (BAFTA awards for Deayton, Have I Got News For You and Drop The Dead Donkey) Hat Trick should have no problem achieving that. ‘Maybe this will be the first turkey.‘ he says. But you know he doesn‘t believe it.

The Brain Drain begins on Saturday 19 September at 9. 40pm on BBC2.

:— Street fighting men

Slx blokes, lormer paratroopers, iind themselves on civvy street, trying to cope with the realities oi day to day life. They meet a law villains, get into a iew lights, but throughout they demonstrate the bonds they lorged in the services, an extraordinary male

Former paras hlt c street

military and civilian tile. ‘The people who have shot at them, killed them and bombed them don’t cease to be the enemy when these soldiers leave the army,’ says La Plante. ‘When they are picking up terrorists in this country, what happens when one oi them sees a known terrorist on the street?’

Well, shoot-tc-kill perhaps? Civvies is stepping into some dangerous ground here, with the danger oi presenting an over-romanticised view of ‘our boys’ and iustilylng acts oi violence because oi the experiences that caused them. On the other hand, La Plante’s reputation suggests that

camaraderie. Sounds like a lot oi testosterone-luelled macho nonsense? Well actually, the new six-part 8801 drama Clvvies was written by a woman, Lynda La Plante. the Dalia-winning writer oi Prime Suspect and Widows. She started work on the series around seven years ago, driven by a concern about what actually happened to the

highly-drilled protessional lighting machines once they returned to civilian llle. ‘We are looking at men who have seen active service in the Falklands and been in and out oi Northern Ireland throughout their army careers,’ she says. ‘And I think what comes over lrom Clvvies is that this country is at war, and we don’t seem to acknowledge

that. Soldiers are being shot at, killed and maimed, bombed - and many ol these boys weren’t even born when the Troubles started.’

Civvles lollows the lives oi six lormer ‘brothers-in-anns’ (yep, the Dire Straits song plays over the closing credits) but attempts to tackle wider issues about the huge gap between

she is a capable enough dramatist to avoid the more obvious pitfalls. What is certain is that Civvles will attract that degree oi controversy, and more than a low viewers with vested interests. (Tom Lappln)

Clvvies starts on 8861 on Tuesday September 22.


58 The List 11— 24 September 1992