You miss quite a bit when you’re sheltering from the heat on the Costa Del Sol trying to get a decent picture on Canal Plus. I didn’t see Norman Lamont quivering as interest rates went up and down faster than Dave Mellor’s Chelsea shorts. I missed A Little Bit OfLippy which was reportedly the most salacious slice of Northern life since Rita, Sue And Bob Too. I wasn’t there to witness the return of Jeremy Beadle with a new series of You’ve Been Framed. I did see the departure of Alec Gilroy and the death of Ted Sullivan, though, as I’d set the video accordingly. It concentrates the mind wonderfully having only three hours of videotape to record the entire British broadcasting output for a two-week period. Six episodes of The Street seem to win out every time . . .
A few hours of frantic knob-twiddling failed to pay dividends on the Canal Plus front, which is a shame as this is a channel that shows The Exorcist at ten in the morning, an uncut Henry And June in the evening, and mostly tacky game-shows in between. The sole Spanish contribution to world television was 3-2-1 and they don’t seem inclined to let us forget it.
Returning to these shores, it was both depressing and strangely exhilarating to witness the shape of ITV to come in the form 0f Dame Edna’s Neighbourhood Watch (Scottish). Here is a show that is packaged genius, targeted and marketed to perfection, embarrassing and compelling by turn. Original it ain’t, looking like a bastard offspring of Through The Keyhole and Sticky Moments, but what it lacks in novelty it makes up for in sheer vulgarity. By Christmas the phrase ‘up your stairs’ will be part of the national vernacular.
It’s a ‘people show’ of the type that invariably attracts Essex folk, both as audience and victim. Dame Edna unerringly picked out Linda with the sunbed tan and the bottle-blonde
locks from the capital of naff, Southend, and proceeded to ritually humiliate her by prying into every tastelessly plush corner of her commuter belt maisonette, from the chewing gum in the kitchen to the barley-white paint on the banisters.
The likes of Cilla or Beadle would
have ruined the pleasantly voyeuristic atmosphere with a note of false bonhomie. Dame Edna knows the secret is to keep things spiteful and smutty and go for the jugular. Staring with disgusted disdain at an enormous stuffed bear reclining on Linda’s duvet. Edna asked, ‘Does your husband ever get inside it?‘ Linda turned a strange shade of puce and simpered nervously. PeOple will die on Dame Edna’s Neighbourhood Watch and I want to be there to see it.
Tabloid telly of a distinctly more worrying kind came courtesy of World In Action (Scottish). With a central ITV scheduler imminent, the knives are out for mainstream current affairs. The implications for World In Action are get sexy or get axed. Producers at Granada obviously figured that Sunday Sport publisher David Sullivan (or the ‘sultan of sleaze’ as they preferred to call him) would make for a salacious 30 minutes, especially as he is currently moving into their territory with his new (family) newspaper.
The programme was narrated by a ‘Outraged of Tonbridge Wells’ soundalike with a penchant for introducing us to Sullivan’s former pom-industry chums, hilariously pervy types to a man. Porn film director George Harrison Marks dressed in a grubby pinstripe suit, puffed on a fag and reminisced about the bad old days. A grainy skin-flick drifted out of focus behind him, as he shifted uneasily in his seat. Monty Python couldn’t have staged it better.
The problem was, we didn’t learn anything about Sullivan we couldn’t have surmised from the briefest of glances through the Sunday Sport. Sure he’s got interests in sex-shops and phone-line businesses, but as the narrator pointed out in the midst of all his old-hat moral outrage, it ain’t a crime. Sullivan is a rather sad little man with a lot of money to spend. If he wants to plough it into the risky business of newspaper publishing that’s his right. If World In Action want to expose dangerous figures in the media, there are inﬁnitely bigger and more devious operators. The advantage of doing Sullivan of course was that it gave an excuse to show us Mary Millington getting her kit off in prime-time. (Tom Lappin)
A selection oi television highlights. listed by day, in chronological order. Television
Listings compiled by Tom Lappln.
FRIDAY 25 i
I The Man From UNCLE: The Discotheque Altair (BBCZ) 6.25-7. 15pm. The most dated show ever made proves its worth with a fabulous title for tonight’s episode. Cool cat Robert Vaughn once again has to rescue the most inept UNCLE agent. David McCallum, from the hands of THRUSH.
I Dispatches Special (Channel 4) 8.30—9pm. On the eve ofthe Labour Party conference, Vincent Hanna examines why the party made such a dazzling balls~up in the last few days of the election campaign. I Between The Lines: Lies and Damned Lies (BBC1)9.30—10.20pm. Tony Clark (Neil Pearson) investigates a case of police brutality in which a heroin-addicted prostitute is beaten up. Not exactly pulling its punches, this show.
I Under The Sun: Tribes Oi Europe (BBCZ) 9.30-10.20pm. The series on middle Europe focuses tonight on the German Jews who fled to Russia in the Second .World War and are now going ‘home‘. only to be greeted with hostility and a lengthy process in which they must prove their German status.
I Cheers (Channel 4) 9.30—10pm. The second (and probably best) series continues with Sam planning a clandestine trip behind Diane’s back.
I Terms oi Endeannent(BBC1) 10.20pm-12.25am. A few weeks agoin Roseanne, Dan took the piss out of the film that Roseanne and Jackie were dragging him to. ‘Oh, my God, I’m dying,’ he feigned, ‘It‘s. . . it’s a woman’s disease.’ You just knew that this wasthe ﬁlm he was talking about in which poor old Debra Winger finally snuffs it at the end. For all its sentimentality, the strong characterisation and excellent acting (especially from Shirley MacLaine playing Winger’s mum) make for a powerful movie. IBlrdland(BBC2)11.15—11.55pm.The transatlantic jazz series continues with Branford Marsalis ducting with Julian Joseph.
I The Cobweb (Channel4) 11.30pm-1.45am. This Vincente Minnelli drama from 1955 centres on the relationships between psychiatric patients and nurses in a large hospital. lt’s notable primarily for its cast — Lauren Bacall, Lillian Gish , Richard Widmark and Charles Boyer among them.
I World Cup Athletics (BBCZ) midnight—1.20am. Britain‘s much-depleted squad docs battle in Havana against the world’s best.
I Joe Jackson: Laughter and Lust (BBCl) 12.45—2am. The cerebral singer/ songwriter caught in the act at the State Theatre, Sydney.
I Dancemaiters (BBCZ) 7.50-8.55pm. The innovative series using exciting film techniques tonight includes work by French choreographer Maurice Be jart. I Casualty(BBC1) 8—8.50pm. Holby General once again liberally spreading around the tomato ketchup.
I The Cecil Parkinson Story (BBCZ) 8.55—9.55pm. More dirt than a speedway track, more lies than an American President, more slime than a slug. The man who spawned a whole season of Private Eye anagrams talks frankly to Michael Cockerall about his life (and, presumably, lusts).
I Bull Durham (BBC1)9.10-10.55pm. Kevin Costner (before Dances with Wolves), Tim Robbins (before The Player) and Susan Sarandon (before Thelma and Louise) star in this basically baseball comedy. Sarandon, for those who are interested, makes about the sexiest
seductress since Lauren Bacall in To Have And Have Not.
I Commando (Scottish) 10.25pm-12.053m. The heavily-cut for TV seminal Arnie movie featuring Mr Wimpy as a retired special agent forced back into action when his daughter is kidnapped.
I Cinema Paradiso (Channel 4) 10.30pm—12.4Sam. And now for something completely different. British TV premiere for the Oscar-winning story of a young boy who becomes fascinated by his local cinema and its projectionist (Philippe Noiret). Always warm, but never sentimental, high-class cinema. Go on, watch this instead, you need sub-titles for Arnie anyway.
I The Look: Scenting Money (BBC2) 8.10—9pm. The fashion series continues with a look at poor babies like Calvin Klein and Pierre Cardin who, not content with making obscene amounts of money from clothes which a three-year-old could design, decided to expand into producing perfume, handbags, pens etc, etc.
I London's Burning (Scottish) 8.45—9.45pm. Return of the Cockney ﬁre-ﬁghting series which always includes plenty of domestic drama down the pole. I Screen One: Black and Blue (BBCI) 9.25—10.50pm. Echoes of Between the Lines in GP. Newman‘s powerful study of corruption and racism in the Met. The story centres on the murder of a black policeman, killed as he is investigating accusations of racism in the force. Among a strong cast is Christopher John Hall, Linus Roche and Don Henderson.
I A Word in Your Era (BBCZ)
9.40—10. 10pm. The much-advertised comedy quiz show with a historical bent (fnarrf) begins with Helen Lederer portraying Elizabeth I , Jim Sweeney as Rasputin and, most intriguingly, John Wells as Queen Victoria. All three stand in the dock and answer for their crimes (to hilarious effect, of course).
I Everyman: See ilo Evil- The Sabra and Shatlla Massacre (BBCI) 10.50-11.45pm. The ethical affairs show looks at a monumental atrocity that was pretty much swept under the carpet at the time and has been ever since. In 1982, Christian militiamen swanned into two Palestinian refugee camps and killed an estimated 2000 men, women and children. The programme examines the legacy of the massacre for all parties - the killers, the victims and the Israeli guards on the camps who let it all happen.
I The Time To Live And The Time To Die (Channel 4) 12.10—2.35am. Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s highly-acclaimed ﬁlm focusing on his own childhood in Taiwan.
I The Big Breakfast (Channel 4) 7—9am. Channel 4, who did have by far the most intelligent, lively breakfast show of the lot, have decided to scrap it and replace it with a couple of London wide-boys, phone-ins, Bob Geldof interviewing world leaders (i) and Paula Yates discussing fashion. Heads will surely roll.
I On The Up (BBCl) 8—8.30pm. Return of Bob Larbey’s fair-to-middling comedy series starring Dennis Waterman.
I Standing Room Only (BBC2) 6.50—7.25pm. This week the soccer fanzine interviews Denis Law — a man who combined silky smooth ﬁnishing with quite the most ridiculous hairstyle of any footballer (except for early Bryan Robson).
I Murder Most llorrld (BBCZ) 10—10.30pm. Dawn French’s
The List 25 September - 8 October 1992 65