The Strife of Brian

Not content with playing only one TV law enforcer, Brian Cox is making a speedy return to our screens as The Negotiator. Mark Fisher negotiates another interview.

It's the last week of the Royal Lyceum‘s tour of The Master Builder. the show that brought Brian (‘ox back to the Scottish stage and claimed him yet another small acreage of newspaper coverage. Cox‘s problem is he can‘t say no. When i first met him he was on a world tour playing King Lear as well as appearing in Richard III and writing a book about it. After that he decided he‘d been pushing himself too hard and would be better offearning a bit of easy money on TV. But the next thing we know. he‘s wound up appearing everywhere from Sean 3- Show to Grushko, with more still in the can. He tells me now that even though he can command main features in national dailies (not to mention a recent photo spread in Hal/of). he‘ll still give interviews as a gesture of goodwill to mental health patients doing work-therapy. Not surprisingly. he‘s taking the end of The Master Builder as an opportunity to take some time off. Or so he says.

The Negotiator will. however. keep him in the public eye. Filmed on location around Glasgow. the 90-minute drama is being shown as a one-off. but sis follow-up scripts are ready to go into production should it prove a success. And Cox has high hopes that it will. “I liked it because it was so well written.‘ he says of the script by Trevor Preston who wrote the cops and robber series ()ur which also starred Cos. “Trevor writes about the criminal fraternity brilliantly. The writing is spare and hard and my



character is an extraordinary guy.‘

(‘ox play s (’harlie King. a long-serving detective inspector with the (ilasgow police force who, faced with the prospect of a desk job after a bout of ill health. turns instead to the twilight world of the secret services and becomes a terrorist negotiator. 'l'he distinguishing feature. like Jim Rockford's dad. Jim Taggart’s \\ ife or Koiak's lollipop. is that (‘harlic King is a man of exceptional moral and religious integrin “l lis whole attitude towards policing is as a moralistf says (‘ox “i ie's an independent force and he works to his own rules. He sees himself as a soldier against c\ il.‘

l‘hcse day s no crime show is credible without it touching on a topical issue or tw o. Following suit. The .Vigen/hrlur promises to travel into contentious

: territory such as .-\merica's extradition policy and the

Brian Cox negotiates another tricky situation suppression of a book about the Falklands conflict. The programme will side-step comparison with 'lizle‘eurl. says ('o\‘. because it is not about the police force. and with lie/ween I/lt’ Lures. because it is operating on an international scale. “I like contentious issues.‘ says (Tos. who played the lead in Ken l.oach‘s Hidden Agenda. “Television these days has got to be entertaining. you‘ve got to get the ratings ~ now that’s crap. At the moment television is era/y. i like it because it is a’ popular medium and at its best is can be excellent. but at its worst it can be appalling. There‘s so much television being made to order. But people are not buying the formula stuff. they‘re looking for something else. When anybody tries to be formulaic with a TV series it immediately comes unstuck.‘

The [\‘eeuliulm‘. BBC]. Tue 3/ May.

:- 1 Back of the net

Being a soccer tan is a pastime that i enloys troughs and peaks of fashion. In the 60s when all things vaguely proletarian were cool, soccer stars were as much part of the zeitgeist as The Beatles. The advent of hooliganism, Aertex shirts and stadium disasters made the sport about as voguish as clog dancing.

In the 90s the beautiful game is

suddenly trendier than ever. Ryan Giggs, iilck Hornby, Roddy Doyle, Fantasy League and retro chic have

80 The List 20 May 2 June 1994

Coming soon. . .

somehow combined to make soccer 3 happening pastime amongst aesthetes and new lads alike. The final

acknowledgment comes in the form of that much-desired bestowal of media

acceptance, the BBC2 theme night.

Of course it’s in the penalty area that .

it counts, but Coal TV on May 30 is

shaping up as a winner, both for

football fanatics and for those

I appreciative of TV that is a knowing

i mixture of the celebratory and the

l sardonic. Highlights include Stuart

j Cosgrove’s selection of open letters

& written by football fans, Clare

3 Grogan’s rifle through the archives of

football’s depiction on screen and TV

: drama, and the classic Likely Lads

' comedy following Bob and Terry’s

, i desperate attempts to avoid finding

~ out the score of a game to be

televised that night. The new material

on offer includes a selection of sketches from Angus Deayton and Philip Pope, and a trawl through Football Hell, some of the more embarrassing and tacky soccer- related shows to disgrace the TV.

In the end though it’s the on-field action which will remain most memorable. The 1970 boys from Brazil, the 1963 Real Madrid side and the 1984 French squad took the game onto new piateaux. Sometimes though, you need something a bit meatier. Just after the watershed we are promised Chile v Italy from 1962, tantalisineg described by commentator David Coleman as ‘the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football in the history of the game.’ Set the video. (Tom Lappin) Goal TV is on BBC2 on May 30. Kick- off 7.30pm.