l Think of great British TV actors and the mind tums to the likes of James Bolam, David Jason, Warren Clarke, Geofirey Hughes. Robbie Coltrane even. Dennis Waterman, diamond geezer though he no doubt is, on thespian talent alone would be struggling to make the top 500.

Don't get me wrong. Den isjust fine in his place, biffing wrong ’uns and uttering the occasional ‘we‘ve got a right one ’ere guv’ as Sergeant Carter in The Sweeney, or doing a passable line in bemused dimness as Tel in

with a heart of gold and not much upstairs, Den’s yer man, and if you throw in a few quid more you might even get the missus to do her tough-as- nails manipulative bird bit as part of the deal.

The problem with your reliable toughs of course is that they will keep trying to stretch themselves, and in Dennis‘s case it doesn’t take much expansion before he starts to twang alarmingly. The strings were snapping all over the shop in Circle OI Deceit (Scottish) a supposedly gritty tale of IRA and SAS folk.

Messing with Northern Ireland is a tricky enough area as it is. Harry '5 Game, Patriot Games and The Crying Game just about got away with it by playing up the political ambivalence, and avoiding treating the issue as a black and white, goodies and baddies scenario. Circle Of Deceit, having made the initial error of not including the word ‘Game' in the title, played it very much po-faced ‘them and us',

in love and war when you’re dealing with the fighting Irish. By the climax, the shoot-to-kill policy was there in abundance.

By that stage though it’s doubtful if anyone watching was taking it very seriously. Den’s resources of tragedy were well and truly drained after the first twenty minutes. He played battle- hardened veteran John O'Neil, whose family were wiped out by a pesky IRA bomb in Germany. This mishap affected our Den in much the same way as Arfur breaking the news that Tel’s motor needed a spot of work on the clutch. The lips trembled a little and the teeth gritted in a decidedly miffed fashion, but five minutes later it was back to cocky, h-dropping business.

Our John swore revenge needless to

Minder. You need a Cockney tough guy

with the moral implication that all’s fair .


say, and headed off to Belfast, where

his military bearing, bluff Cockney banter and an implausible cover story naturally allowed him to drift seamlessly into the upper echelons of the IRA and, in passing, the knickers of the daughter of a top terrorist.

From hereon in, the script gave it plenty about the irreconcilable aims of revenge and lurve and Den extracted every last ounce of torment with the occasional quizzical eyebrow or resigned sigh. At the end, in one of those ‘ooh unlucky' ironies that seem so appealing to harassed scriptwriters with a lot of loose ends to knot together, the IRA chief accidentally shot his own daughter (Den's main squeeze remember) right through the heart. Den, flying away in a helicopter looked back and dredged up all his ; reserves of emotion to cloud that oh-so- 2 British face. It was a moment of { heightened anguish he'd only ever i equalled once before on screen; in the

i bar of the Winchester when Dave had i

‘Ilis military bearing, bluii Cockney banter and an implausible cover story ' naturally allowed him to drift seamlessly into the upper echelons of the IRA and, In passing, the knickers oi the daughter of a top terrorist.’

told Tel the lager was off and he'd have to wait while the barrel was changed.

I ITV’s other substantial drama

; offering, Demob (Scottish) sensibly

: plays it mostly for laughs. With Griff

i Rhys Jones and Martin Clunes in the

? lead roles it could hardly do otherwise. I That said, Jones does do a neat line in

poignant dissatisfaction as chirpy ex- soldier and returned father Ian Deasey. Clunes is fine as well, as roguish toff Dick Dobbs, although it’s difficult to pay much attention to what he‘s saying as his ears are so preposterously large. A trivial matter I know, but distracting all the same. Otherwise, Demob looks a safe bet, with its winning blend of post- war nostalgia, all crap suits and ration- books, and old music-hall routines.

I There’s more than a hint of Shine 0n

3 Harvey Moon about it, which can only

! be a good thing. Shame about the ears

i though. (Tom Lappin).


A selection oi television highlights,

listed by day, In chronological order. Television listian compiled by Tom



I Tomorrow’s World (BBC I) 7.30—8pm. A report on the latest strain of drug- resistant malaria, currently claiming the lives of Western holiday-makers.

I Public Eye: The Cost of Coal (BBC2) 8-8.30pm. An investigation into the Bilsthorpe Colliery disaster and the changes in safety requirements made in the rush toward privatisation.

Is“ 3 ":

1 ;..'sha..'§,i" ‘,,.,.,,.«_;v- i“ gags; - .5: I Plant Lite (Channel 4) 9—9.30pm. Not just how to get the best results from your garden. but the scientific reasons why you should.

I Cheers (Channel 4) 9.30— lOpm. Sam‘s smugness overwhelms the appeal of his pheronomes when a reporter arrives to investigate the singles' scene.

I KYTV (BBC2) lO—lO.30pm. Angus Deayton and chums slap on the factor fifteen for this holiday programme parody. I Clive Anderson Talks Back (Channel 4) 10.30—11.10pm. More wit and wisdom from the fast talking barrister. who this weeks goes up against Private Eye's Ian Hislop.

I The larry Sanders Show (BBC2)

1 1.15—1 1.45pm. Jonathan Ross introduces a new American comedy series set in the crazy world of late night talk shows.

I Dr Terror’s Vault Di llorror (BBC 1) ll.50pm—2.50am. Two more ham classics from the horror genre. featuring Blood Of The Vampire about a resuscitated vampire and his dumb. one-eyed, hunchback assistant. and I Don't Want To Be Born about the offspring of a woman cursed by a midget whilst pregnant.

I Made In The USA: Promised land (Channel 4) 11.35pm—l.40am. Richard Linklater‘s zero budget film takes an epic look at the lives of American college drop-outs. Obsessions, paranoia and philosophy from one hundred disparate bohernians including the director himself.


I In At lumber Ten (BBC2) 8.25—8.55pm. Montage of sporting events, news, TV and film hits, interwoven with music from the Thatcher decade.

I Casualty (BBCI) 8.10-9pm. Multiple story lines amid the multiple fractures as siblings argue about their father‘s proposed suicide and three wives turn up at their husband‘s bedside.

I liarry (BBCI) 9—9.50pm. Michael Elphick is the middle-aged journo doing those usual journo things; interfering with serious hostage situations. sacking his lawyer and wondering why his wife is trying to leave him.

I I love You To Death (Scottish) 9-10.45pm. Tracey Ullman decides to

bump off her philandering husband

(Kevin Kline), but understandably he’s having none of it. TV premiere of a comedy directed by Lawrence Kasdan.

I Faces (Channel 4) lO.45pm—l.lOam. The John Cassavetes Season continues with this powerful study of loneliness, divorce and handheld camera work. Gena Rowlands stars as the high class prostitute undergoing several brilliantly improvised crisis.

I Video Diaries: Ice Cream Justice (BBC2) ll.20pm—i2.20am. Nine years after the Glasgow Ice Cream Wars, Thom Campbell is still serving his sentence for murder. The video diary follows his campaign for a re-trail and the tribulations of a wife convinced of her husband’s innocence.


I last or The Summer Wine (BBC l) 7—7.30pm. Cornpo. Clegg and Foggy celebrate the show‘s 21st Anniversary with more rustic mayhem this time with Cornpo (Bill Owen) making a bid for the body beautiful.

I Thatchenvorld (BBC2) 9.05-9.35pm. The After Margaret Season continues with a .larrasic Park parody from Spitting Image. in which the Jenkins fatnin (Frances Barber and Gary Olsen) are invited to tour the Grantham ofthe 1920’s and the spooky, artificial world of the 1980‘s. Actors interact with puppets to earn ‘Thatchercredits‘ by blasting free school milk and sinking the Belgrano. I london’s Bumlng (Scottish) 9—loptn. The Blue Watch boys (and girl) get to put out another big budget fire. this time in a disused mental hospital. Meanwhile 'Sicknote‘ makes his starring role in Richard III. I Screen One: The Bullion Boy (BBCI) ,9.05—10.40pm. David Jason stars as a Liverpool docker ‘sampling‘ a cargo of gold bullion sent from the Bank Of England for safekeeping during World War Two.

I Made In The USA: The Unbelievable Truth (Channel 4) 10-] 1.45pm. A brilliant first feature from Hal Hartley, who went on to direct Trust and Simple Men. Adrienne Shelley is the small town sexual predator who ensnares paroled convict Robert Burke on his release.

I The South Bank Show (Scottish) 10.45—1 1.45pm. Melvyn Bragg interviews Stevie Wonder in Los Angeles, as he prepares songs for his long awaited new album, Conversation Peace.


I Will To Win: Power and Glory (BBC2) 7.40—8.30pm. Sixty per cent of US professional football and basketball players are black, but only six out of56 coaches are black: Auntie Beeb investigates.

I World In Action: Doctor Knows Best (Scottish) 8.30—9pm. Ever worry that the medical student vomiting outside the Student Union might one day be treating you? Then don't watch this documentary. Presenter Faulds Woods was told there was nothing wrong with her. despite internal bleeding. Luckily she got a

7' The List 22 October—4 November 1993