Babylon’s burnin

' I D g .

'_ h . I \ '-

The cool Slav Susan lvanova and follically strange Minbari Ambassador swap make-up secrets.

lt’s understandable really, this reticence to boldly go where Star Trek has gone before. The space saga TV genre fell badly into disrepute over the last decade, serving only as the butt of some pointed lokes (Battlestar Galactica, Blake’s Seven) or the instigator of some iuvenile ones (Red Dwarf).

From America comes a series keen to ,

reclaim the credibility (and ratings) of prime-time space-opera. In the wake of successful Star Trek sequels comes Babylon 5, a large-cast, ambitious slab of futuristic drama set on a space station that conveniently serves as a melting pot of humans and assorted (but happin humanoidish) aliens.

Babylon 5’s secret will be to emphasise personalities above special effects. ‘Sci-fi fans tune in to watch characters,’ says series creator J. Michael Straczynski. ‘You have to give your characters and your actors multi- dimensionality.’

More multi-dimensional than most is Commander Jeffrey Sinclair (Michael O’Hare) the Captain Kirk of the space station, who has to maintain uneasy

f .. .

i peace between the various races

I (differentiated by ludicrous hairstyles

and occasional facial prostheses

; rather than any radical biological

! variation, which made casting easier).

' Sinclair is a kind of troubled, epic

figure, and certainly Straczynski has

l grandiose ideas about his series, and

indeed the whole future of mankind. ‘People of my generation sense that

the have got off the merry-go-round

somewhere,’ he ‘explains’. ‘Whether it

was Kennedy, Vietnam, King or

Watergate. Something went wrong. We

1 have forgotten that we are part of the

l grand parade that’s building the future

I every day. We are building something.

i There will be a future. You can’t tell me in two million years of evolution

1 that the culmination is Beavis And

; Butthead. There must be something

; grander going on here.’

Phew! But if Straczynski’s sales pitch sucks, his show might just turn out to be cool. If not there’s always the consolation that in space no one can hear you snigger. (Tom Lappin) Babylon 5 begins on Channel 4 on Monday 16 May at 6pm.



Facing the dragon

A lone student standing in front of the advancing tanks in Tiananmen Square is one of the most powerful images of the last decade. It, more than any other single image, lives on as a reminder of the 1989 massacre of students assembled in Beijing to demonstrate for democracy and human rights.

Trudie Styler, like many others, spent the five weeks of the Tiananmen Square occupation glued to the television. When the demonstration was quashed and the brief hope of reform in China shattered, she, like the rest, forgot about it. Until a few months later, when she met li I.u who at the time of the massacre was high on the Chinese Government’s most wanted list. He had just escaped from Beijing and was at Columbia University, with no clothes, no funding and little command of English. Styler immediately decided to buy the rights to the book he was writing about the occupation: Moving The Mountain.

‘We thought it was important to focus on giving a face to Tiananmen Square,’ says Styler of the documentary which has emerged from

68 The List (i—l‘) May I994

that book. ‘There is a very strong link between the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen Square in that during the Cultural Revolution, those students were babies, typically offspring of intellectuals who were branded as class enemies.’

The emotionally charged documentary, directed by Michael Apted, combines footage shot in 1989 with dramatic reconstructions of the leading students’ childhoods and contemporary interviews to explore the historical forces that led up to the democracy movement and are shaping China’s future.

Besides bringing Tiananmen Square back to our minds on its fifth anniversary, Styler says the process of interviewing the leaders of the current democracy movement is empowering for them. ‘It actually makes them a safer than they would be,’ she says.

'. ‘By putting the light of celebrity

i around them, the Chinese Government aren’t going to torture them any more.’ (Thom Dibdin)

Moving The Mountain will be broadcast on BBCZ on May 14 at l 8.30pm


After over eighteen months of keeping his listeners up-to-date with the latest independent releases on the weekly Smiile. Q96 DJ lan Hossack is burrowing further into the world of new music with his new show Sound Control. sponsored by the self-same music shop. The two—hour show mixes music and chat of a music industry— related nature. Each week a special guest, usually culled from the twilight world of record company A & R. will take the hot seat to provide an ‘insider guide‘ to theirjob and the biz we call music.

A local band. who couldn‘t normally expect radio support. will be featured on demo and in interview Roundabout. Fred Quimby Quartet and Solomon Flynn have already had the honour and a local industry figure. usually a promoter. will offer advice to young bands. Hossack hopes to involve students on Scotland‘s several music industry courses, following their progress as much as the bands‘. Finally. Keith Joseph from Sound Control will review the latest equipment.

‘l‘d always wanted to do an infrastructure programme to get bands to focus on the local industry.‘ says Hossack. ‘lt seemed to me all these local bands would come in and be blind and after about a year they‘d know the game. Now. while the bands are in the studio before their first gigs they get to know the game slightly. So I‘ve been trying to get this off the ground for about a year.‘

He envisages that Sound Control will attract an audience composed of young bands and anyone with an interest in the wider spectrum of music-related occupations. In the wake of Sound City‘s educative aim. it‘s an invaluable piece of ‘public service radio‘ to use broadcasting‘s buzz term and as Hossack says. ‘The one question is “why hasn‘t it been done before?" There isn‘t another show like this and the response in the past two weeks has been enormous.‘

Sound Control occupies the Wednesday 8—10pm slot as part of a time strand that includes other specialist shows on the station: rock show Ruck 'It' Roll Heaven on Tuesdays. Blues Anti [favour] on Thursdays. The Qua/w. Thea Newcomb‘s show for Scottish and Irish bands on Fridays and Sour/e on Mondays. Hossack terms these shows ‘the meat‘ to the daytime shows‘ ‘bread and butter‘ programming. (Fiona Shepherd)


I The Usual Suspects (Radio Scotland. Fri 6. Fri l3. 10.10pm) Radio Scotland‘s arts flagship runs a six-week series of cabaret shows live from their Queen Street studios. The Friday 6 programme features Love & Money. Fjaere and Tam White plus comedians Fred MacAulay and Rhona Cameron while Arnold Brown. Bruce Morton. Carol Laula. The Pearlfishers and Zut! La Chute show up on the 13th. (For details of free tickets to the shows see Rock and Comedy listings). I Table Talk: Trust Me, I’m A Doctor (Radio 3. Sat 7. 1.02pm) Rerun of an edition on edible highs frotn magic mushrooms to hash brownies. Recipes for marijuana have grown in sophistication since the 60s when you simply sprinkled it into cake mix. Now nouvelle cuisine dictates that you saute it in garlic and olive oil and spread it on thin pieces of toast.

I Kaleidoscope (Radio 4. Sat 7. 7.20pm) Edition on Andy Warhol to mark the opening of a lavish Andy Warhol museum in Warhol‘s home town of Pittsburgh. Presenter Tim Marlow talks to Andy‘s brother and fellow art students frotn the class of ‘45. and asks if the museum will help grimy. industrial Pittsburgh re-invent itself as Warhol country.

I Blue (Radio 3. Sun 8. 7.30pm) A tribute to Derek Jarman in the forth of a second chance to hear the soundtrack of his imageless film. John Quentin. Nigel Terry and Tilda Swinton contribute with a musical score by Simon Fisher. All you need is a radio and a piece of blue cardboard and Bob‘s your uncle.

I Born to be Mild (Radio 4 FM. Tue 10. 10am). Another quirky. high concept piece of Radio 4 reportage as diminutive Martin Wainwright subverts the ()n The Road myth by touring the North of England in a Reliant Kitten. The first programme in the series visits the set of Coronation Street. Manchester's (jay Village and an old people‘s mobile home park in Stafford.

I Andy Kershaw (Radio I. Sat [-1. 3pm) Features Weapons ()f Sound. an urban junk band frorn Plymouth playing funky sounds on gas pipes. hub—caps. shopping trolleys. iron girders etc. etc.

I Collins and Maconie’s Hit Parade (Radio I. Thurs l‘). 9pm.) The Naked (‘t’rv gagsters return to the airwaves with an irreverent magazine show. lixpect news. gossip and discussions on the latest releases as well as features like ()mituary where a critic is asked to review an artist unaware that three cliche phrases have already been revealed to the audience. Will the critic avoid the pilftllls.’ (Frances Cornford)