“Basically the programmes reflect the lrlnds oi things people throughout Scotland have been thinking since the 1 election- do we really want 3 sell-govemment, how much do we want it, where do we go from here?’ ,‘ Editor Val Atkinson is talking about 880 Scotland’s new series Union, three highly personal ‘essays’ by prominent Scots, programmed to run between St Andrews Night and the start oi the EC Summit, examining Scotland’s iuture in the light ol April 9 and the ‘new Europe’. Allan Massle brings the lite and times ; oi his hero, Sir Walter Scott, to bear on 3 contemporary circumstances. Initially a reluctant convert to the idea oi union, . Scott eventually became a staunch j supporter, welcoming the stability it ; brought compared to the endemic disruption pre-t 707. Massie doesn’t see the current state oi the union as pertect, but argues that it is, essentially, ‘a good marriage’, the best ioundation tor peace and prosperity. Margo MacDonald and David Martin both look abroad lor comparisons to support their views. MacDonald turns to lreland, a nation which did succeed in breaking away irom Britain, iinding that despite economic dlilicultles, the Irish possess an outward-looking sell-contldence conspicuously absent here. She also issues a challenge to her audience - do the Scots always tall at the last seii-govemment hurdle because we actually, deep down, enjoy the security ol being British while wearing nationalism ‘as a badge of complaint’? Martin, Lothian MEP and Vice-President oi the European Parliament, argues that devolved
United we stand?
I largo Atacoonald
: iederailsm throughout a ‘Europe oi . regions’ provides the solutions both to
Scotland’s dilemmas and to closer European cooperation. lie chooses Bavaria as his model —though part oi the German state, it has its own President and a powerful lobbying otllce in Brussels - arguing that
' anti-European ‘ilttie Engiand’ attitudes
are the essential stumbling-block to Scotland's aspirations.
‘it just seemed an appropriate moment to examine our navel,’ says Atkinson, explaining the timing and tormat oi the programmes. ‘A lot of people, particularly with the summit approaching, are thinking about these questions, about where power should reside, to what extent we should be Europeans. You cannot have that discussion in Scotland without also thinking about what we should be as scots.’ (Sue Wilson)
Union starts on 30 Nov at 8pm on eecz.
Help! Mark Radclyffe casts a sceptical eye (sceptical? Radio 1?) over the motives behind large Live Aid-style charity gigs. Are the ageing pop stars involved simply out to boost their own flagging careers and record sales or is Status Quo in fact poised to save the world? Could be. (Radio 1, Sat 21, 2pm).
Gary Lineker's Football Night The thinking woman’s crumpet steers his enraptured audience through an evening of European football, with the European Cup starting its league system and the beginning of the UEFA Cup third round. (Radio 5, Wed 25, 7.30pm).
Toistoy- At War and Peace Everything you ever wanted to know about ‘the greatest man in Russia’ in seven half-hour instalments. Michael Bakewell takes as a framework Tolstoy’s dramatic death — on the platform of a country railway station — and draws on the letters, diaries and other writings of his family and friends in this impressive portrait. (Radio 4, Wed 5 25 , 8.45pm) | Little Women Louisa May Alcott’s l classic is the story of four sisters I growing up during the American LCivil War, sort of The Waltons
without John Boy and Jim Bob. Almost every woman, little or large, has read the book — but most of us are darned if we can remember anything about it. Find out why in the company of Gayle Hunnicut, who plays Marmee and J emma Redgrave, her eldest daughter Meg. (Radio 4, Thurs 26, 10.02am).
The Friends Dramatised in four parts, Rosa Guy’s story about a young girl who leaves her home in the Caribbean to live in Harlem is set against a background of racism and riots, and tackles the problems of adjusting to a new environment from a youthful perspective. Mel Sada Pantry plays Phylissia. (Radio 5, Thurs 26, 9.30pm).
Devil’s Advocate The last in a brilliant series broadcast at a wickedly inconvenient time , in which sundry celebs present a defence for a literary villain. Previous guests have put up a case for Lady Macbeth, Richard III and Cruella De Ville. This week, Australian Kathy Lette defends the
outrageously ﬂirtatious Becky “Sharp, from Thackeray’s Vanity
Fair, and tries to further her case by making comparisons with Madonna. (Radio 4, Wed 25, 3.42pm). (Miranda France)
7 TV REVIEW ,E/é
Whatever he does in the future, David Nobbs will forever be associated with The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin, a spiralling fantasy, rooted in the mundane realities of office-life and mid-life crisis. It was absurd, but not that absurd.
The Liie And Times Of lienry Pratt (Scottish) is tragic, but not that tragic. Based on Nobbs’s poignantly witty, semi-autobiographical rites-of-passage novel Second From Last In The Sack Race, it traces the adolescence of a sensitive lad in post-war Yorkshire , billeted on assorted members of his appalling family. Those cheeky chaps from Granada have nipped over the Pennines and signed up every cloth cap not needed for Last Of The Summer Wine. The result is a delight: My Life As A Dog or Cinema Paradiso re jigged with clogs and whippets and cobbled streets. The impression given is that, in reality, Yorkshire may be a polluted hell populated by bigots and windbags, but in the 405 it were right grand, despite the occasional sudden death.
Two episodes in and our Henry has already lost his Mam under a bus. Dad (‘our Ezra’) has returned from the war with a disconcerting glass eye and a tendency to indulge in liquid reminiscence down the Navigation Arms. In the background there is the ominous presence of The Sniffer, aka Cousin Hilda, one of those Yorkshire battleaxes who have held
‘The impression given is that, in reality, Yorkshire may he a polluted hell populated by bigots and windbags, but in the 40s it were right grand.’
sway over the small screen since Lord Reith kicked the bucket. Hilda scares even a war hero. ‘If she knew I’d been down t’Navigation, she’d tear me bollocks off,’ panics Ezra. Ten minutes later he’s found dead in the outside toilet (‘cross the street and turn left at t’midden’).
It’s broad stuff, not averse to the odd stereotype , but with dialogue that thumps along like one of those old leather lace-up footballs being booted around by big chaps in baggy shorts. ‘1 like to give my gentleman lodgers something to nibble on before bedtime,’ sniffs cousin Hilda.
Henry though is bound for the ‘Gin and It’ set of his spivvish uncle Teddy, and public school, where Stratford Johns is already shaping up brilliantly as a dry, pedantic headmaster.
Tell Tale Hearts (BBCl) came from the other end of the drama spectrum. although it was no less effective for that. In terms of plot and scripting it had its limitations, lapsing occasionally into tough Taggartisms or trying too hard to be sharp and witty, and occasionally indulging that irritating trait of having one too many red herrings or conspiracy theories.
Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s direction, though, pushed any such ﬂaws into the background. From the opening titles onwards he conveyed an atmosphere of gloom and foreboding unmatched by anything in recent memory on the small screen. In the final episode, Bill Paterson as the chillingly contained
‘Dad has returned irom the war with a disconcerting glass eye and a tendency to indulge in liquid reminiscence down the Navigation Arms.’
child murderer drives Brid Brennan towards her child’s grave, the rain beating on the windscreen and splashing off the roof. Nothing much is said, but the scene had a forcefulness that no amount of tearful histrionics could have conveyed.
Eldorado (BBC 1) was supposed to take off once the temperatures started to drop and frostbitten Brits began to yearn for a spot of Iberian
. sunshine. Well it ain’t happened yet,
although there are signs that a hard-core of Eldo junkies are beginning to coalesce, drawn in by the surreal scripts, and above all by the incomprehensible diction of the sultry Pilar (Sandra Sandri). Her contribution to the dialogue is like tiptoeing through a linguistic minefield. Last week she uttered something along the lines of ‘I haff to naaooow wert ees gone on Marcoosh,’ with the stresses all over the shop. Apparently she’s got her own language series on Radio 4 as well. I blame that Jonathan Powell. (Tom Lappin)
68 The List 20 November — 3 December 1992