Oh Danny boy, it had to end some day. but did it have to be like this? Danny Baker‘s twelve-year ﬂirtation with popular culture culminated in a humiliating knockback last Saturday with the chat-show equivalent of Eldorado. Danny Baker After All promised a looser, hipper take on the chat format. What we ended up with was a fanago of missed gags, tortuous wafﬁing and guests who looked as embarrassed as the audience. Come back Parkie, all is forgiven.
‘Peter Cook took the sensible step of getting completely pissed beforehand, so he didn’t have to react to Danny’s oily tawnlng.’
Watching Danny suffer like that is excruciating, because anyone who knows his work will appreciate that he is several times wittier, more erudite and generally more sound than most TV talking heads. So what went wrong? Part of it seemed to be Baker‘s desire to be wackier-than-thou. which resulted in a worrying propensity for padding out his South London vernacular with all sorts of incongruous Americanisms. Jonathan Ross has already tried the David Letterman schtick Dan. and he did it better.
Less excusable was the offensive material used to pad out the gaps between the shallow interviews. Ten racist gags about the French is hardly the stuff of radical ground-breaking late-night television, and more than a little irresponsible if. like Danny. you come from Millwall. Similarly. inviting on Barry Bethell, a porkin naff radio celebrity who does embarrassing TV ads. and patronising him honendously was unforgivable. Ever heard the one about stones and glass houses Mr Mars- Bar Baker?
The interviews themselves were equally painful. Peter Cook took the sensible step of getting completely pissed beforehand, so he didn’t have to react to Danny’s oily fawning, while Michael Winner actually managed to emerge as a decent. sensible human being, so something was obviously drastically wrong. Suggs closed the show with a sweet rendition of Morrissey‘s ‘Suedehead‘ but it was too little too late. The Funeral March might
have been more appropriate.
Peter McDougall seems to arouse heated opinions about his portrayals of Glasgow crime that, judging by Down Among The Big Boys (BBCl ), are out of all proportion. Here was a ﬁlm that was closer to social comedy than gritty drama. In the blue comer were Jojo Donnelly (Billy Connolly), his karaoke-crazed wife, his puppy-fat daughter and his pigeons; semi- detached humanity with a warped sense of decency and humour expressed in the glorious line of the mother's; ‘You've had a wee bit too much to drink. Have a wee whisky. it'll make you feel better.‘
in the red comer were the uptight. time-served plod with his rigorous pomposity, his embittered, frustrated wife, the idealistic. confused son, and the ﬂabby. amoral and weak uncle. McDougall didn’t make a very good job of hiding where his sympathies lay. This was a drama about families, that showed the same affection for its criminal protagonists as Scorsese or Tarantino. Down Among The Big Boys was GuidFellas or Reservoir Dugs, intimate. amusing, revealing, but in the domestic scenes, rather than in the macho crime sense. It was telling that the actual bank robbery was played as high comedy, Jojo and chums blowing the safety deposit boxes in time to the bass drum of an Orange band above.
There’s been a mighty cloud of consumer backlash gathering in the skies above Rob Newman and David Baddiel for some time now, swollen by their clever-dickery, their indie name- dropping and their impossible-to- conceal smugness. If the ﬁrst edition of their new series, lievrman And Baddiel In Pieces (BBC2) is representative, the storm could be breaking any day now. A lazy mish-mash of indulgent waffling about themselves. punctuated by sketches weak enough to have been rejected by Danny Baker's researchers, the new show suggests that Dave and Rob have pushed their luck too far this time. Representative of their stuff is a gag about The Orb Unplugged, the ‘ joke‘ being that The Orb are a sample- reliant rave act who can‘t really do much unplugged. So pleased were the boys with this rib-tickling stab of comic insight that they repeated it with The Utah Saints, and will no doubt dredge it up with glum monotony for the rest of the series. Students love ’em apparently. (Tom Lappin)
A selection of television highlights, listed by day, in chronological order. Television listings compiled by Tom
I Class Action (Channel 4) 8—8.30pm. The investigative education series covers some of the controversies raging at the beginning of a new academic year.
I Missing (Scottish) 9-10pm. Alastair Stewart and Fiona Foster present a new series asking viewers to help track down some of the thousands of men. women and children who go missing in Britain each year.
I Black Rain (BBC 1) 9.30—1 1.30pm. Ridiey Scott‘s stylish thriller stars Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia as tough New York cops assigned to escort a Japanese gangster. When Garcia is killed pursuing their escaped prisoner. Douglas is forced to strike up some unusual alliances to track down his quarry.
I Cheers (Channel 4) 9.30—l0pm. Sam agrees to pitch in a charity softball game . . . for the Playboy Playmates team.
I Horses (Channel 4) 10—10.30pm. One of those American celebs who means nothing in Britain. chat-show host Geraldo Rivera checks into the hospital. causing consternation among the staff.
I Paul Merton - The Series (Channel 4) 1030—] 1.05pm. More experiments in surreal banality with the suburban comic genius.
I Eurotrash (Channel 4) 11.05—1 1 .40pm. Antoine De Caunes and Jean Paul Gaultier are your hosts for a new series. aiming to expose the trash culture of Europe. Reports in the ﬁrst programme include Abba — The Musical. Euro Disney, and porn entrepreneur Laetitia.
I Dr Terror’s Vault Of Honor (BBC 1 ) ll.50pm—2.25am. Two more classic horrors from the archives. with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in The Curse Of F rankenstein. followed by The Blood Of Dracula.
I Kenneth Baker's Memoirs — Maggie’s Man (BBC2) 6.55-7.45pm. The ﬁnal part of Baker’s memoirs looks at Thatcher‘s downfall, with her Ministers spilling the beans on how it happened.
I Casualty (BBC!) 8-8.50pm. High winds and toppling trees cause havoc for Holby General, while Charlie is ﬁnding it tricky dealing with cocky new porter Frankie Drummer.
I N’s Heaven (BBC2) 8—8.30pm. A shameless new thirteen-part series dusting off all those embarrassing 72),) ()f The Pops links of yesteryear (there‘s some music included as well apparently) provided by all those not-so-lovable Radio One jocks. Hosted by the most loathsome of the lot, Dave Lee Travis.
I The Thief 0t Baghdad (Channel 4) 8.30—10.30pm. Alexander Korda's Arabian Nights fantasy stars Sabu as the thief who foils the baddie Grand Vizier and restores the prince to the throne of Baghdad.
I Harry (BBCl) 8.50—9.40pm. Michael Elphick stars as the middle-aged journalist investigating different aspects of motorway madness. and beginning to worry that he is losing his edge.
I Magnum Force (Scottish)
9.20—1 l.25pm. The second ﬁlm in the macho Dirty Harry series stars Clint Eastwood as the maverick cop with a neat line in threatening one-liners, investigating the murders of a number of prominent West Coast criminals.
I The Old Devils (BBC2) 9.40— l0.35pm. Kingsley Amis‘s tale of middle-aged Welsh cronies gets a repeat screening. with the acidic script provided by the ever-excellent Andrew Davies.
I Clnetile: Made In The USA (Channel 4) lO.30pm—l?..05am. An introduction to Channel 4‘s season devoted to contemporary American cinema. Innovative directors. including Robert Altman. David Lynch. Jim Jarrnusch. Quentin Tarantino and Gus Van Sant discuss the changing face of the ﬁlm business.
I First Heels (Scottish) l 125—] l.55pm. A new series of showcases for young Scottish ﬁlmmakers. hosted by Colin Young. Look out for an intriguing short entitled Off Your Trolley set in a supermarket.
I Grandstand (BBC2) midday-6pm. Steve Rider introduces Ryder Cup action from the ﬁnal day's play at The Belfry. I Football ltalia (Channel 4) 2.45—5pm. James Richardson hosts a live game from Serie A.
I Opening Shot: Peckham Hap (Channe 4) 6—6.30pm. A part-reality. part-fantasy look at the lives of three young rappers from Peckharn. whose ambition is to take their anti-drugs message to the world.
I Cilla’s Celebration (Scottish) 6.30—8pm. Cliff Richard. Dusty Springﬁeld and Jimmy Tarbuckjoin Scouse emetic Cilla Black to celebrate (if i that's the right word) her 30 years in showbusiness.
I Memphis Belle (Scottish) 8—9.50pm. Michael Caton-Jones directs a spectacular. ifshallow. tale ofa B—l7 Flying Fortress and its ﬁnal bombing mission over Germany. Matthew Modine and Eric Stoltz star.
I Hollywood UK: British Cinema in The 50$(BBC2)8.10-—9.l()pm. More memories of the 60s ﬁlm scene. introduced by Richard Lester. with contributions from Roger Corman. Nicolas Roeg. Jane Asher. Vanessa Redgrave and others.
I Birds lit a Feather (BBC!) 8.20—8.50pm. The neighbours are victims ofa spate of burglaries. and the ﬁnger of suspicion is pointing at Sharon and Tracy. ‘ I D Milligan (BBC2) 9—9.30pm. Spike Milligan‘s Q series of the 70s and 80s provides a bizarre mixture of sketches and dreaded ‘zaniness'. I Screen One: Hoyai Celebration (BBCl) ' 905—1035an it‘s 29 July l98l. the day of the Royal Wedding. The residents of a suburban square are celebrating with a street party that unveils the petty
squabbles and sexual jealousies of the residents' own lives.
I Made In The USA: sex, lies and videotape (Channel 4) lO—i 1.55pm.
Steven S'Oderbergh's acclaimed
voyeuristic but witty study of inhibitions and erotic impulses among the Yankee yuppie set stars James Spader. Andi McDowell. Peter Gallagher and Laura San l [ Giacomo.
The List 24 Septetiiber—D'Tgto—ber-IDW 67