‘A certain stretch of the M6 between Stoke and Birmingham, people with so-called amusing notices in the back-windows of their cars, stickers on apples . . .’
It doesn’t have quite have the zip and rhythmic pizzazz of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, but these are a 'few of llick llancock’s least favourite things, and suitably arbitrary they are too. lionnally though he’s the reasonable-minded host as fellow alternative celebs Peter Cook, David Baddiel, Ian llislop, .lo Brand, Danny Baker, Maureen Lipman, Tony Slattery and Bob Monkhouse turn up on his new show, Room 101, to list their personal aversions, including the film Truly Madly Deeply, Top Gear, Charlie Brake, Kilroy, Arsenal football ground and led Zeppelin. Suddenly petty spite and unprovoked loathing are being being given the weekly 30-minute TV outlet they deserve.
Like many of the new breed of TV parlour games, Room 101 (named after Orwell’s notorious chamber of horrors) began life on radio, where llancock found it rather less flippant than the TV version. ‘On the radio, people seem to feel less vulnerable and end up
llick Hancock gets hot-up about stickers on apples
telling you the most remarkable things. The TV show is more of a comic chat-show, but people’s hatreds can still reveal a lot about their
- characters. The best moments are
where people have a particularly personal anecdote to explain their
g choices, or their choices include ' something they’ve been in themselves.
Maureen Lipman chose Carry 0n
? Cleopatra, and Bob Monkhouse picked
one of his old films.’ The predominantly trlvial nature of the programmes is ensured by the
guests’ need to be funny about their 2 dislikes. There would be nothing
worse than half an hour’s worth of vitriol directed against the Tory Cabinet (oh, i don’t know though), and the softness of the targets is an unspoken essential. ‘There is something very funny about people
I getting worked up about something as
i“ unimportant as a film or a book or TV show,’ says Hancock. ‘the ridiculous . inappropriateness of all that expended
: energy. Plus people are usually much
funnier talking about something they really hate.’ (Tom Lappin)
Room 101 begins on BBCZ on Monday 4 July.
I Fancy A Bit? (Radio 2. Friday 1. 8.45pm) Chirpy little Cockney sparra Barbara Windsor presents a new series recreating the saucy seaside postcard on radio. End of pier sketches will be combined with archive comedy from the 40s. 50s and 60s for a good bit of Ooo-er. I Kaleidoscope (Radio 4. Saturday 2. 7.20pm) The history of the big screen slurp' from Bogart and Bergman to the first on-screen kiss between a black couple. Harriett Gilbert talks to actors. directors. screenwriters. cinematographers and critics about cinematic snogging. I Physical Jerks (Radio Scotland. Saturday 2. 9.30pm) An intriguing idea for this week‘s alternative sporting programme: can a human being travel from Morpeth in Northumberland to Orkney faster than a racing pigeon? The birds are from the Orkney Pigeon Fancier's Club. I Between Ourselves (Radio Scotland. Monday 4. 7pm) Frisson on Frequency Modulated with a report on what the International Academy of Sex Research will be getting up to at their Edinburgh conference. There‘s also an investigation into the usefulness of psychometric testing in assessing candidates for jobs. I Postcards From Fiona (Radio Scotland. Tuesday 5. 6.30pm) This time Fiona Mckinnon’s writing from yet another ‘untouched‘ part of the ‘real Spain‘. Ronda is built on a high rock surrounded on three sides by a gorge. so it's hardly surprising it‘s untouched. _I Barglng Across Europe (Radio 4.
Friday 8. 6.30pm) Eight-hundred years ago Emperor Charlemagne wanted to construct a canal from the River Main to the Danube. Now it’s been finished. and Peter Day is travelling by water from Holland to the Black Sea in the course of six programmes.
I The Ad Break (Radio 5. Saturday 9. ll.35pm) A new series which promises to pull the plug on the ocean of ‘messages‘ pumped into our lives with an insider‘s view of the ad world. The industries' biggest names are proﬁled. and there‘s a chance to ring in with your comments.
I Easy Rider (Radio 1. Sunday 10. 7pm) Mark Radcliffe takes an in-depth look at the rock 'n’ roll myth of contract riders. The days of No Red Smarties are apparently over - now bands request condoms. ﬁtness equipment and macro- biotic food backstage. Rick Wakeman. Ozzy Osborne and Peter Hook will be telling a few stories about that gig in Sri Lanka . . .
I If It Wasn’t For That Graham Taylor (Radio 4. Monday ll. 7.45pm) Not a 'What would have happened if. . .‘ discussion programme for historians but The Monday Play. written by actor and ex-footballer John Salthouse. The piece revolves around the misfortunes of a sports agent who is suffering from Taylor's incompetence. Will he get the deal with the young Nigerian player who hasn't scored but can sing?
I The Crusader Chronicles (Radio 4. Thursday 14. 6.30pm) Hugh Grant stars in the llth century comedy about chain mail and cutting edge theology. First in a new series.
V TV REVIEW
Flick through the Channel 4 or BBCZ schedules most evenings and you'll invariably ﬁnd a heavily researched in- depth documentary offering an insight into alien cultures. The global village is ajobbing filmmaker’s playground nowadays. and rare is the indigenous people that hasn't been the subject of an intimate tsetse ﬂy-on-the-wall record.
These films take years to prepare and record but how much they tell us about the spirit and emotions of the people they portray is open to question. For those sorts of insights you need World Cup ’94 (BBCI and 2. Scottish) and a few split seconds of action that offer lasting images ofthe personality of nations. the spirit and style of the players who carry the hopes. aspirations and ambitions oftheir countries.
In the ﬁrst week action snapshots of four particular players gave a revealing summary of national contrasts that went beyond superficial stereotypes. Against Bulgaria. Rashidi Yekini scored Nigeria‘s first World Cup goal. a simple tap-in. Instead of rushing to the sidelines for a corner-flag wiggle. Yekini embroiled himself in the net. raising his arms in thanks and supplication. calling out praise to Allah and his father for making the moment possible. It was a literally awe-inspiring sight. transcending a mere game or sport to give a vivid depiction of a man and a nation joining the world‘s finest.
The Brazilian Bebeto offered a less spiritual but equally ecstatic reaction after scoring the third against Cameroon. Setting off on a mazy run he swayed to and fro moving his arms in a frantic cradling motion as if calming a particularly histrionic baby; a witty metaphor for the players‘ relationship with their country. The suicide rate in Brazil rises abruptly when their side is knocked out of the World Cup. In the face of such pressure. Bebeto. Romario. Rai and the rest can be excused for getting a little manic.
From Europe two contrasting scenes disturbed and delighted. Against Mexico. John Aldridge. a Scouser playing under the Irish colours. hurled foul abuse and threatening gestures at a FIFA official, backed up at every expletive by his manager Jack Charlton. It was an ugly reminder of the mindless and banal brutality of so much British football. the climate of no-holds-barred competitiveness that sees Vinnie Jones even managing to
have a punch-up at his own wedding. From the other side. geographically and culturally. of Europe. an exciting if erratic Romania side is playing some of the best football ofthe tournament. encouraged by Ghiorghe Hagi. the ‘Maradona of the Carpathians'. Hagi curled a 35 yarder into the top corner against Colombia. but scored an even better goal against the Swiss. beating a couple of defenders before finding the net from outside the area. His celebration was the best symbol of post-Communist exultation since those Berlin Wall scenes. Hagi wiggled. screamed and damn near passed out. Romania lost 4-1 but what the hell'.’
It’s early days but USA '94 is already looking like the most attractive toumament since Mexico ’70. British television coverage has its usual irritations. the Anglocentric commentary. the belief that we are riveted by anything remotely to do with the Ireland squad. and the patronising tone ofthe pundits. A week‘s sojourn in Spain watching Mundial ’94 (TVEI. TVEZ) suggested that the Spanish approach ofjust the football. no pre- match build-up. no jokey compilations set to American show-tunes. no Jimmy Hill. worked just fine when the matches were exciting (Argentina-Nigeria. Switzerland-Romania. Germany-Spain) but struggled when the games were on the dull side (Ireland-Mexico. USA- Switzerland).
The implication is that the pundits and the perkiness are a kind of TV subs bench. ready to strip off and rush in with a hasty observation when the action flags. Back in the UK, it was disrnaying to discover that bland self- publicist John Fashanu. rejected by Nigeria, had wangled himself a slot on the BBC squad. offering the usual platitudes and stating the bleeding obvious in time-honoured style. but in a wholly unwelcome media voice. all smarm and Philip Schofteld-on-steroids reasonableness. If we must have pundits let them be the happily- ignorant. University of Life sorts like Big Ron Atkinson. whose entertainment value makes him worth his match fee any day. (Tom Lappin)
(My substantial wager on Italy is looking a tad shaky. so I‘ll be supplementing my income by applying for the Colombian manager’s post. This means that I‘ll be vacating this space from next issue. Happy viewing. and if anyone wants a rather battered spare TV set with dodgy colour control. get intouch)
78 The List 1—14 July 1994