liﬂﬂﬂlll Issues of colour
In recent debates on racism, there have been those who argue that it isn't a problem in Scotland, that Scots are to some degree more tolerant and open- minded than the rest of the UK.
lt’s an argument that Carol Wightman of Radio Scotland is trying to counter with a week of programmes under the heading of Listen Without Prejudice, designed to highlight the issues of racism and prejudice, and offer some insights into the daily experience of its victims.
‘People keep saying it hasn‘t been such a problem in Scotland.‘ says Wightman. ‘and in one respect it hasn‘t but that‘s only because there aren't so many people of colour here to act as targets. 1 think the feelings here arejust as bad, if not more so, but Scots have been slow to look at their attitudes toWards racism. If more black people came to live here 1 suspect it would get much worse. 1 want people to look at the issues surrounding racism, so that if that happens they would be more secure in themselves and understand why they might feel threatened by people of other cultures.’
The issue will feature in regular Radio Scotland slots throughout the week, but Wightman's particular involvement has been in producing ﬁve special drama-
documentaries examining aspects of prejudice, from a black health worker continually passed over for promotion to the effects of racism on family life.
‘They‘re dramatisations of true stories that have happened recently in Scotland,’ she says. ‘and some are recorded on location so they’re quite raw and as close to real-life as we can get them.‘ The stories take the issue beyond the arid area of facts and ﬁgures. ‘I think the extent to which persistent racism can ruin people’s lives in quite subtle ways made an impression on me,‘ says Wightman. ‘If you’re thinking in terms of statistics it might not look so bad, but if you interview people about what‘s happened to them, you ﬁnd it can ruin years of their lives because they can't ﬁnd a way of solving the problem.‘
She hopes that the stories will encourage reactions from listeners who have had similar experiences, and a vital part of the campaign is to look at the positive steps that can be taken to improve things. One of the most important aspects of looking to the future is the audience feedback. A helpline will be open all week and the campaign week ends with a live debate in the Ghetto Blasting slot on Sunday 19 at 7pm. ‘We don’t want to look at this as just a one-off,‘ says Wightman. ‘We want to get audience reactions and act on those as well.‘ (Tom Lappin)
Listen Without Prejudice specials are every dayfrom 13-17 June at 12.20pm on Radio Scotland. Regular shows also cover the issue throughout the week.
I Eureplllle (Radio 4, Saturday 4, 11.30am) A news series of the continental magazine programme begins with the inevitable D-Day special. Presenter David Walter looks at the German perspective on the Allied landings, and whether they are viewed as a defeat or a liberation.
.5 ' I I
I TI. llonlngtoe Festival (Radio 1, Saturday 4, 2pm) The UK‘s premier heavy rock festival blasts away for seven hours, featuring the lank-locked likes of Extreme, Pantera, Sepultura, Therapy? and headliners Aerosmith. Former Iron Maiden frontrnan Bruce Dickinson reports from backstage, presumably keeping quiet about the more outlandish behaviour.
I Sunday Play - to Old (Radio 3, Sunday I
5, 7.30pm) Imogen Stubbs and Nicholas Farrel star in Comeille’s play about the Spanish romantic hero who kills his betrothed’s father to avenge an insult against his own father.
I Th Mule Machine (Radio 3, Monday 6. 5pm) The ﬁrst of ﬁve programmes examining the collision between music and politics. Tommy Pearson asks
composer Steve Martland and singer Billy
Bragg whether music can change the
I Arthur Smith (In The Floor (Radio 5.
Monday 6, 9.05pm) Arthur hosts another
beer-fuelled student debate on a topical
issue, live from the Nelson Mandela bar at
I Andrew lleill’s West End (Radio 4.
Tuesday 7, 10pm) Just before he heads off
for a new career in New York, the crinkly-
haired Sunday 7imes editor reminisces about his time spent in Glasgow, including fond anecdotes about the
University Guardian, Hamilton Terrace
cricket ground, and The Ubiquitous Chip.
I The Betty Driver Story (Radio 2.
Tuesday 7, 9.03pm) The intriguing life
story of the actress and singer who went
on to churn out a million and one hotpots as Coronation Street's beloved Betty
I Listen Without Prejudice (Radio
Scotland, Monday l3—Friday 17.
12.20pm.) Throughout the week Radio
Scotland tackles the issue of racism in
ten-minute documentary dramas. lt‘s part
of a nationwide initiative, in tandem with
Radio 1. See preview.
I Ironic Maidens (Radio 2, Tuesday 14,
7.30pm) A selection of humorous and
sardonic songs by female performers, presented by Susan Jeffreys.
I Playing Away (Radio 3, Tuesday 14,
7.30pm) The much talked-about British
opera about football, written by young composer Benedict Mason and featuring
a, shall we say, robust libretto by
controversial playwright Howard Brenton.
The plot concerns a Faustian pact by
soccer star Terry Bond which is nearing
its expiry date.
I Alrica's Prey (Radio 5, Thursday 16, 8.35pm) As the World Cup, approaches, the exotically-named Hepburn Harrison- Graham examines the rise of African football and asks how Morocco, Cameroon and Nigeria will fare in the tournament.
v rv REVIEW
Back in the early 80s 1 had a French teacher who bore a disturbing resemblance to Warren Clarke. He sported a singularly unattractive ginger military moustache, was fond of barking meaningless catch-phrases like ‘Mumble what'?’ or ‘Sharpen your finger and write in blood boy!‘ and had an abiding ambition to appear on Mastermind. One fateful Sunday his dream was realised and he took his seat in the hallowed black chair to answer questions on British troops in Singapore 1938—47 (or something like that). Racked with a nervousness he had never shown in the classroom. he scored a sad total of 22 points and ﬁnished fourth. The next day at school we indulged in copious whisperings of ‘Vingt-deux, sacre bleu!‘ and similar witticisrns. He bore them all stoically.
Anyway, you can imagine my concern when Warren Clarke turned up in Moving Story (Scottish) as a character (nicknamed Bamber) with a dubious ginger military moustache and an acute ambition to appear on Mastermind. His grasp of the correct answers is equally tenuous, his guesses falling invariably some distance wide of the mark.
Bamber is just one of a cast of deliciously idiosyncratic creations assembled by Jack Rosenthal (whose play about removal men The Chain was the spark for this series). Clarke has been spreading his prodigious talent a little thin of late, but Moving Story is a perfect vehicle for his mixture of pomposity, vanity and vulnerability. He's ably abetted by the gloriously- named Adrenalin, a languid lover-boy fantasist completely devoid of charm, Nick, burdened by marital responsibilities he fervently denies at every opportunity, and the new boy Asif, or ‘As if‘ as Bamber cheerfully insists on calling him. Asif is a recognisable Rosenthal type, the naive young Jewish boy with an overbearing mother, here recast as a sheltered Pakistani kid, which offers scope for such poignant infelicities as Bamber‘s ‘You‘re a white man. No offence As if. . .'
Rosenthal has a fondness for the infelicities and eccentricities of language that shines out like a diamond in the dung-pile of cliche and catchphrase that often passes for TV dialogue. Adrenalin relies heavily on substitutes like ‘thingie',
‘whatchamacallit‘, ‘doobrie’ to the extent that Bambcr accuses him of ‘never using the words till he‘s ﬁnished the sentence'. Pleasing banalities abound: ‘She‘s giving us an extra sausage to make up,‘ Bamber enthuses about a cafe proprietrix found guilty of over-thin fried bread. Place-names always have a redolence about them. When Adrenalin is rumoured to have another wife, it‘s inevitably in Uttoxeter rather than any more prosaic location. Moving Story is shaping up as an uplifting series in more ways than one. spoiled only by a tacky Midland Bank sponsorship sequence and an overly bleak Kirsty MacColl theme tune (although Bamth probably thinks it's Joni Mitchell).
A writer of Rosenthal‘s calibre is urgently needed down Walford way these days, to rescue EastEntlers (BBCl) from the soggy mire. The Cockney soap is becoming positively Australian in its signposting of plot developments, and casual deployment of spurious red herrings. Recently we were treated to the unusual sight ofa nameless new character strolling across the Essex countryside with her dogs, stumbling across the wreck of a stolen car recently occupied by gormless Rickie Butcher and his irritating sister Janine. ‘Oh goodie', you thought, ‘two awful characters wiped out in one fell swoop.‘ The producers didn‘t even have the decency to let us enjoy the ‘tragedy‘. Two scenes later the camera returned to ﬁnd Rickie and Janine unhappily unharmed, hitching their way down the A12.
As ifthis wasn‘t enough, in the very same episode, Rickie contrived to lose his vile sibling in Soho. ‘This time, surcly.‘ you thought, mindful of EastEnders‘ bad taste fondness for mirroring recent real—life tragedies. Janine was bound to end up in some kiddie-pom ring (probably involving arch-baddie Grant Mitchell). But nope. After a few minutes of frantic searching Rickie found her outside a cake shop.
These scenes had added nothing to the plot, had scarcely lasted long enough to milk any suspense, and were blatant padding, included merely to string out a few minutes of air-time and hopefully leave enough material to ﬁll out the week‘s third episode. Bring back Eldorado, all is forgiven. (Tom Lappin)
78 The List 3—16 June 1994