Not so long ago Sunday viewing was as devoid of gratification as the day itself. Dismal afternoons of God, gardening and war films of the They Flew To Bruges ilk led to chronic alcoholism as depressed viewers flocked to the three-hour lunchtime pub sessions to throw as much beer down their neck, as it takes to get through Thora Hird and retain your sanity. It wasn’t an entirely satisfactory solution, as the liquor has yet to be distilled that could make Thora resemble Tara Fitzgerald.

Glimmers of hope for the Sabbath couch potato have crept into the schedules of late. Despite protestations from joyless old hags in Brechin the ITV network is gearing up to kill God, or at least the TV equivalent: axing Harry Secombe. In its current frame of mind the BBC is sure to follow suit, and before you know it, Sunday will be a veritable Dante’s Inferno ofsalacious sitcoms and game-shows.

BBC] has already scheduled the new series of Birds of a Feather for Sunday evening and it’s as reliably vulgar as ever. Dialogue is of the "00’s she shaggin’ then?‘ or ‘bleedin‘ ’ell, get a load of ’im’ nature. although I may be getting confused here as my two Essex girl sisters were staying over the weekend. Marks and Gran’s scripts come disturbingly close to the real thing.

Channel 4 have stolen a march on the big boys already by abandoning their Sunday afternoon worthy diet of consumer programmes, dry political analysis and Bulgarian animation, and replacing it with Football italia. In the process they‘ve caused an outbreak of religious fervour in my house at least, where Michael Grade is now worshipped as a deity for the miracle he has performed and all for a piddling one and a half million quid.

Yeah. but Italian football is boring and defensive , too slow, too tactical blah blah, I hear you whinge. On Sunday, Sampdoria and Lazio shared six goals between them, two of which were spectacular own goals, one a brilliant swerving free kick, one a hotly disputed penalty which inspired a Lazio defender to perform an hilarious mime of a dive. It was the best game of football I’ve seen since the Danes dumped on the Germans in the EurOpean championships. Channel 4’s





presentation is shoddy, it has to be said, with late replacement pundit Luther Blissett‘s comments making Greavsie sound like A.J. Ayer, but who cares when you can see soccer of this quality? And by the way, I’ve already bagged the franchise for Attilo Lombardo bald wigs (£3.99 a time, very reasonable, guaranteed to last to the UEFA Cup semis at least, discounts for bulk orders.)

In the days BT (Before Tara) there was Joanna Kanska, Stephen Daker‘s ‘stupid Polish girl’ in Andrew Davies’s A Very Peculiar Practice, and the KGB agent in the sublime Sleepers. She was back for A Very Polish Practice a one-off sequel to Davies’s series. and the first film in the new Screen One season.

With the possible exception of Alan Bleasdale. Davies is several furlongs ahead of the field in the TV dramatist stakes; which made A Very Polish Practice something of a disappointment. Davies was very much operating on cruise control here, reviving some of the recurrent ideas from the original series (including a Polish equivalent of the dipso Jock McFadden) and bolstering up the storyline with a lot

‘Despite protestations from joyless old hags in Brechin the ITV network is gearing up to kill

God, or at least the TV equivalent: axing Harry Seoombe.’

of post-perestroika Eastern European stuff seemingly left over fom Malcolm Bradbury’s The Gravy Train. What saved it in part was David Troughton‘s performance as the never quite as thrusting as he‘d like to be Bob Buzzard. one of the finest comic TV characters ever created. Give the man his own series.

Alfred Molina had the Alexei Sayle role, as the sexy wheeler-dealer Tadeusz, our Joanna’s former lover whom she implausibly ditched for wimpy Daker. You get the impression that Davies’s grim view of relationships is mellowing. In the good old days he‘d have had our heroine flying off to pastures new with the baddie, just like in real life. Has the man suddenly gone all romantic on us? Let’s hope not. (Tom Lappin)


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


I Stingray (BBC2) 6-6.25pm. More nostalgia as Troy Tempest returns to the controls of the underwater craft that looks suspiciously like an old hairdryer with a lick of paint. In this episode our hero hasa spot of bother with an uppity fish god.

I Cheers (Channel 4) 9.30—10pm. Cliff has to try to save face after backing down from a fight.

I Nurses (Channel 4) l()—10.30pm. The Miami hospital sitcom continues. with Harold making a pass at Sandy, despite the presence of his fiance. Tut tut.

I Terry And Julian (Channel 4) 10.30—11pm. Julian Clary returns in a loose sitcom, playing himself as ever. moving into a flat with the stodgy Terry (Lee Simpson). See feature. IBirdland(BBC2)11.15—11.55pm.Thc first of a new jazz series pairing the best British musicians with American greats. Tonight’s line-up features Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams. Wayne Shorter and British pianist Jason Rebello.

\ . ‘1‘, I we.

I Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (Channel 4) 11.30pm—1 .OSam. The film that launched a thousand liolsten Pils ads. with its innovative technique ofintcrweaving stock footage of 40$fllm noir with new material. Steve Martin stars as a private detective hired by Rachel Ward to investigate the death of herscientist father. An inspired idea with plenty of laughs. '


I Big (Scottish) 6—7.55pm. Tom Hanks stars in a neat little comedy about a 12-year-old kid who wishes he were a grown-up. . . and suddenly finds he is. Not too much schmaltzy message, but several nob jokes.

I Star Trek V- The Final Frontier (BBC 1) 6.25—8pm. The latest dodgy instalment of the seemingly endless Star Trek saga finds our tubby menopausal heroes tackling a loopy Vulcan mystic who wants to journey to the centre of the galaxy and meet up with God.

I it'll Be Alright On The Night 6 (Scottish) 7.55—8.55pm. Denis Norden presents another compilation of out-takes dragged kicking and screaming from the archives. I Casualty (BBC 1) 8—9pm. Holby General has opted out but the re‘s still plenty of blood and gristle on the walls asa new 24-week series opens with a horrific car crash. Charlie tries to hold the team together as financial cutbacks hit hard, and Julian clashes with the new casualty officer over a sloppy diagnosis. Wonderful stuff.

I Court TV: America On Trial (Channel 4) 9—10pm. Cynthia McFadden presents highlights of current trials in the American courts.

I Let The Blood lion Free (Channel 4) 10—10.30pm. Another instalment ofthe anarchic Australian hospital comedy. Pam decides she is in love.

I Cinema! Cinemalz Ay, Cannelal (Channel 4) 10.30pm-12.203m. Carlos Saura‘s drama stars Carmen Maura as a performer who finds herself behind the Fascist lines during the Spanish Civil War. She and her husband are captured and forced to perform an anti-Republican show.

I The Gig (Scottish) 11.35pm—12.35am. More live music from Edinburgh’s Music Box and Glasgow’s Tunnel. featuring Big Guitar, The Light and Citizen John Rodgers.


I Football Italia (Channel 4) 2.45—4.55pm. More action from the world‘s best soccer league, with analysis from Paul Eliott and commentary from Peter Brackley.

I Scotsgorl (Scottish) 5—6pm. From the sublime to the mediocre as Jim White introduces all the goals from the Premier Division plus highlights from Europe.

I Europe Express (Channel 4) 8—8.30pm. 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 The House Of Eliott(BBC1) 7.45—8.40pm. Evangeline (Louise Lombard) is in Paris. while Bea (Stella Gonet) tries to run the London business single-handed and maintain her marriage to Jack.

I Dancemakers: Cage And Cunningham (BBC2)8.10—9.05pm. A tribute tothe composer John Cage who died recently, in the form of a performance by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company of a work entitled Points In Space.

I Screen One: Disaster AtVaidez(BBC1) 9.25—10.55pm. Christopher Lloyd and John Heard star in a dramatisation ofthe events following the grounding of the oil tanker the Exxon Valdez in 1989. Lloyd plays Frank larossi. President ofthe shipping company. who emerges as an unlikely hero.


I Standing Room Only (BBC2)

60 The List 11- 24 September 1992