Parliament is being given a kick up the public gallery as Channel 4 puts people power at the top of the agenda. Following the success of last autumn‘s pilot programme, a ten-part series of The People Is Parliament is set to put politics ﬁrmly in the lap of ordinary punters.
Chaired by the indomitable Lesley Riddoch and set in Granada‘s replica House of Commons, it promises more blood-boiling debates than even Kilroy Silk can muster. Issues ranging from the criminal responsibility of children to women who kill their abusive husbands will be aired by a studio of
lOO MPPs (Members of the People‘s Parliament).
With one programme in the bag and the others to be filmed a week before transmission to ensure topicality. Channel 4 is promising to rattle the democratic cage. Riddoch thinks it is about'time. ‘Parliament does absolutely nothing to involve ordinary people,‘ she says. ‘There‘s no question people feel hacked off with it.‘ She has the viewing figures to back her up -— 700,000 people watched the pilot. ‘There's a huge resource of energy untapped by the democratic process,‘ she says. ‘The programme hit a raw nerve.‘
The no-nonsense presenter of Radio Scotland's Speaking Out, Riddoch is used to being smack bang in the middle of heated argument. but admits she was unprepared for the power of feeling unleashed during ﬁlming of The
People‘s Parliament. As speaker, she literally sits in the crossfire ofdebate and has felt the fury of MPPs with bees
She is frustrated by the media image of the public as inaniculate and unintelligent - she believes it hampers
in their parliamentary
the general public‘s will to get involved in politics. She witnessed the same lack of confidence displayed by MPPs when filming began. ‘People are saying MPs are crap. but they think they can’t do any better.‘ says Riddoch. ‘During debate they won‘t use their own accents or pick subjects they feel concerned about. There are major problems getting people to the stage where they function properly, but once you do, there are lireworks.’
Audiences should not expect a carbon copy of the real thing. Parliament‘s rows of grey»haired, grey-suited male M Ps will be replaced by a diverse mix of real people. says Riddoch, who promises nothing less than a visual assault. (Kathleen Morgan)
The People 's Parliament is on Channel 4 on Saturdays at 7pni_/ront 30 July.
Youth cafe society
There’s nothing turns your average streetwise, trainer-wearing teenager off faster than a youth club offering a wholesome diet of orange squash and Ping FORB-
This causes problems for youth workers trying to promote the advice services offered in traditional community centres.
A possible solution, being tried for the first time in Edinburgh but already common on the Continent, is the youth cafe. 6 VT, which takes its name from the Victoria Terrace address, opened this week offering young people a hipper environment to meet than the average council community centre.
McDonald’s is the more usual youth hang-out but buying enough Cokes to keep the management happy can work out quite expensive, says project co- ordinator Danny Bradley. 6 VT revives the tradition of the 60s coffee house and hopes to provide a cheaper but equally attractive alternative.
‘The idea is that young people take a major part in the running of the cafe,’ says Bradley. ‘It will be a more adult environment, with a space for young artists to exhibit and bands to play.’
6 VT is backed by Lothian Regional Council’s community education department and will offer workshops and information sessions, including advice on safer sex, drug use and welfare benefits.
‘This is a type of project we’ve been talking about for some time,’ says regional youth work officer Douglas Jeffrey.
‘We hope young people will see it as a youth venue, not an institutional thing that has any connection with a local authority.’
Bradley stresses the advice services will be kept in the background: the most important thing is that young
people visit the cafe because they like being there, he says. (Eddie Gibb)
' 6 VT is at 6 Victoria Terrace and is initially open evenings and weekends. Phone 031 220 2108 for details.
:— Dream ticket
It used to be so simple. If you wanted to go to the theatre, you phoned the box office and the tickets were put aside in a little brown envelope to be collected half an hour before the performance. Then came credit cards and selling tickets over the phone turned into big business.
This week a major London agency, First Call, set up a 24-hour phone room to take credit card bookings for Edinburgh and London events. Venues already linked to the network include the Usher llall, Dueen’s Hall, Playhouse and Glasgow’s Theatre Royal, which recently pulled out of Glasgow District Council’s own Tickettink system.
At the same time, most of the larger Edinburgh venues are linking their box office systems for personal callers so customers can buy tickets for performances at different venues in one go. The Festival Theatre and the Lyceum are expected to join the network after the Festival. Most box office managers regard it as
inevitable that all Scotland’s major venues will be linked in the future, possibly through First Call or a similar agency. Early discussions between Tickettink and First Call faltered but are expected to resume later this year. ‘Edinburgh is way behind other cities,’ says Rene Berry of the Queen‘s Hall. ‘I hope eventually we will link up with Glasgow, Aberdeen and London, and if we're all on the same system there’s no reason why we can’t.’ Edinburgh venues are waiting to see
Festival Theatre: expects to join Edinburgh’s box office network soon
how the First Call system works out. The main advantage for customers is that they can buy tickets for several different shows with the same phone call; the downside is that there is a booking fee of 12% per cent, although that’s much less than london rates. ‘lt’s a convenience thing,’ explains First Call manager Tony Davey. ‘lt’s a service and there is a charge for it.’ (Eddie Gibb) ; First Call can be contacted on 031 555 ; 3773 and 041 556 5555.
:— Siren sounds
If Harpies ((- Quines (RIP) aimed to be the Cosmo of the alternative women's press, then Siren. a new Scottish women‘s magazine due to launch in October, will be its i-I). Promising to portray women as ‘survivors. not victims‘ Siren founder Clare Cochrane cites the Riot Grrl phenomenon as one of the magazine's major influences.
‘We want to annoy people. get up people's noses —— anything to get noticed.‘ she says. This lighting talk is eerily reminiscent of the H&Q‘s line shortly before it went under. unable to sustain the expansion to a monthly format. However. Cochrane argues that by staying defiantly culty. underground even, Siren will be viable as a quarterly publication. ‘lfwe can maintain a loyal readership from the beginning we can survive,‘ she says.
Siren has all the right—on credentials of the alternative sisters‘ press — no
editor. collective decision making; business set up as a cooperative and open-access for contributors. ‘We won't be afraid to carry lesbian issues but we‘re not a lesbian magarine — we'll have to make that clear from the start,‘ explains Cochrane. ‘It's a magazine about women‘s lives, about women telling their own stories.‘
The publishers are on their way to raising the £3000 needed to produce the first issue, with more money expected
Voodoo Queens: Siren cover stars with attitude
from a girl bands benefit gig in Glasgow. But Siren is keen to hear from any women with ideas for contributions. particularly artwork and photography. (Eddie Gibb)
'I'he Siren beneﬁt with Hello Skinny. Lung/eg and Pink K ross is on Friday 5 August — see Roek listings for details. Siren can be eontaeted through Glasgow Women s Library on 041 552
4 The List 29 July—ll August I994