linen-II Nﬁxed blessing
New York performance artist Laurie Anderson used to do a short piece called ‘niiiicult Listening llour’ - ‘The spot on your dial tor the impenetrable sound oi diiiicult music,’ she intoned in a solemn announcer’s voice. It such a show exists, its playlist will have much in common with that oi Radio 3’s
. Mixing It, which begins a new series
3 next week.
l l l I
In a world where eclectic is a term used to describe rock bands that steal their riiis irom more than one record, Mixing It calmly ignores genre boundaries and plays Mongolian throat singers next to US post-grunge bands, contemporary classical next to improvised music, and generally runs the gamut irom Ali Farka Toure to John Zorn.
‘The ionnat was set up live years ago to cover music that was ialling through the cracks in existing programming,’ explains producer Philip Tagney. ‘Its mixed-ness is part oi the attraction, but we aim to make
it cohere musically in each programme.’
The show has two presenters, rock critic Robert Sandall and composer Mark Russell, and their bantering discussion oi the music gives the programme its character. The playlist is chosen by what Tagney calls ‘a committee oi the three oi us, with two votes tor a piece being enough’. lie claims the process is always amicable, but the occasional on-air disagreements certainly add to the iun: a discussion oi the merits (or otherwise) oi King Missile’s
" Detachable Penis was one oi the highlights oi the last series.
The show also includes interviews and studio sessions, a report from San
‘; Francisco and a discussion with 3 legendary US producer, lyricist and ' mate oi Beach Boy Brian Wilson, Van
llyke Parks being planned tor the autumn. For the bewildered, the new series will include occasional ‘Buzzword Deiinitions’ - bluiiers’ guides to those tricky terms like Lo-Fi, ambient and systems music. Mixing It remains one oi the select group oi radio shows that can actually surprise you with what they play next. (Michael llutley)
Mixing It starts on Radio 3 on Monday 12 September at 10.45pm.
I The Leishman Proiile (Radio Scotland. i-‘ri 9. 10.30pm) Mark Leishman sets out to explore the lives of well-known Scots who've made it big abroad. This week he‘s talking to Helena Kennedy QC: broadcaster. journalist. author and linglishwoman since the age of eighteen. I As Soon As I Open My Mouth (Radio 4. Sat 10. l().45pm) Ann Marie speaks with an American accent. her husband's broad Yorkshire and their daughter‘s Nesbit- thick Glaswegian. first in a series of four programmes looking at households where members of the same family all speak with different accents. Intriguing stuff. if you can understand what they‘re saying. I The Great Tune Robbery (Radio 1. Sun I 1. 7pm) Pete Waterman heads an investigation into musical plagiarism. or Webberism as it is known in some circles. Professors of musicology and publishers discuss how similar a tune has to be before the writs fly. and Pete is shocked to discover that a lot of tunes are written with only thirteen notes.
I Up All Night (Radio 5. Sun ll. 2am) Following that Great British Tradition of
L hopping across Antarctica and making
frog-assisted crossings of the Andes. aviation journalist Sean Maffett will be assisting two pilots in duplicating the first ever flight from England to Australia. Before you can say 'Why'." the Vickers Vimy open-cockpit bi-plane bombers will be chugging off at 90 mph. with the airborne Maffett filing live reports via satellite.
I How To Make A Musical (Radio 3. Mon 12. noon) Well it can‘t be that difficult can
3 it'.’ In the course of six episodes Andrew Lloyd Webber. Tim Rice. Cameron
Mackintole Trevor Nunn and Elaine
Paige tell us how to produce those
wonderful lyrics and the art of acting like you‘ve got serious bowel problems. I No Man’s Land (Radio 4, Wed 14. 8.45pm) George Monbiot is the presenter
of what promises to be one of those
gripping documentaries which at some point has the words ‘I can‘t go on . . .' croaked just before the tape recorder
breaks down. Monbiot travels among the nomads of East Africa. collapses with
‘ cerebral malaria. is declared clinically
dead. but rises once again to find himself in a village littered with decapitated
. heads. Will he be able to top that in the
next two episodes?
I The Mirth 0i A Nation: The Great Divide (Radio 2. Sat l7.-1pm) It's comedy week on Radio 2. so you'll be able to
chuckle the next few days away to the
likes of The Barron Knights. Harry
_ Secombe zind the ubiquitous Python
retrospective. This programme discusses
the difference between northern comics like Les Dawson and southern humourists ; such as Max Miller. Marti Caine. Bob
Monkhouse and Ken Dodd contribute.
I An Inspector Called llorse (Radio 3. Sun 18. 7.30pm) Writer Peter Redgrove is an award-winning playwright who‘s been practising analytical psychology for twenty years. so one‘s expectations of weirdness will not be disappointed: his latest work deals with ‘horse ripping'; an ancient university which now teaches circus skills. and a certain Dr Hyde who is obsessed with a local legend about a wild
3 huntsman. . I London Calling (Radio 2. Mon l9.
7.30pm) First in a four-part comedy series. loosely based on fact. about the
birth of the BBC. Starring Bill Pertwee.
Jeffrey Hollan and Jimmy Perry.
It's been said so often, usually after another chunk of heavy industry has been closed. down-sized or hived off. that we’re beginning to believe it: Britain can‘t compete at the manufacturing game with those industrious workers from the Far East.
What a surprise. then. to find that about half the ironrnongery for a new airport in Japan is being custom-milled in Bolton. Lancs. And the airport in question isn‘t some hangar off the equivalent of the MZS (which. as it turns out. is probably a mono-rail). No. this is the Kansai International Airport. a structure so advanced in design and concept it has already been described as the world's first example of ‘post- Euclidean architecture'. You have just arrived at 21st Century Airport (Channel 4) —- a gleaming. space-age structure. shaped to resemble a glider wing and measuring a mile from tip to tip — that makes Stanstead look like a wedding marquee.
()h. and it‘s built on a man-made island. This was reckoned to be the only way round Japan‘s ban on night landing in populated areas. Serving Japan‘s second city. ()saka. Kansai will be the country's only 24-hour airport. To build the island required a mammoth mountain-to-l‘viohammed exercise. well two mountains in fact. which were razed to the ground. The resulting rubble was dumped by the mega-tonne in Osaka Bay. creating a five mile-long artificial island.
Given the scale of this enterprise. you might not have expected to find architect Renzo Piano totally redesigning a major part of the building on the back of an envelope, just hours before a crunch meeting with a Japanese construction company. These were the kind of almost surreal details that gave a human perspective on a project of unimaginable proportions.
ltalian architect Piano is internationally famous — best known as one halfof the musical-sounding double act. Piano and Rogers. who designed the Pompidou Centre. Even by his standards Kansai is a big project. so it was surprising to discover that Piano first visited the construction site well after the half-way stage. Still time to make some changes. be reckoned.
At least the absentee architect wasn‘t around when the ‘sinking airport scandal' erupted. Yes. the island is sinking. The chairman of the airport
company apologised to parliament and a third mountain was chewed tip to bolster the foundations. But still that wasn‘t enough and he stepped down. probably thankful that the traditional Japanese resignation ritual is less fashionable these days.
Meanwhile the Bolton hi-tech scaffold ei'ectors were looking forward to a square meal back home. ‘I shop by sight.‘ says Bill Melling of lonely trips to unfamiliar supermarkets. ‘lfl see something that looks edible. l have it.‘ Architecture and engineering may have become a lingrur/i'unt'u. but unusual foodstuffs can still make a foreigner of us all.
Nostalgia television sells. no question. Last Sunday we waved our hankies on the quayside as the lilul Spark steamed off to a dry-dock where it will be given a fresh lick of paint in time for the second series of The Tales oi Para Handy (BBCl ). The old puffer‘s crew of cartoon Highlanders. skippered by Gregor Fisher with the genre's past master Rikki Fulton down below. did just enough to create that warm. cosy feeling we all like to round off the weekend with. A radical reworking of Neil Munro's much-loved stories was never on the cards and though some purists baulked at Para‘s bowler hat. the series was true to the spirit of the source.
The same Sunday another dose of nostalgia poured from the screen with the return of Heartbeat (Scottish). whose success is almost beyond me. The incongruous ()Os soundtrack can be the only explanation — this isn’t drama. it‘s a pop quiz. The Kinks. Lulu and The Troggs all featured in this episode — extra points for year and chart position. pop pickers.
For those unfamiliar with Heartbeat. the setting is James Heriot's Yorkshire Dales and the star is Nick Berry. who does his rough-diamond Wicksie routine in a bobby's hat and gauntlets. His posh wife Kate is the village‘s good lady doctor. The shaky plots. with their ‘are we a police procedural or medical drama‘." confusions. Berry‘s l-can't- believe-l‘m-saying-this delivery. and the totally unconvincing sense of time and place. all add up to lTV‘s highest- rated drama. Maybe changing the theme to ‘Sailing‘ would add a couple of million to Para Hundy‘s ratings. It‘s got to be worth a try. (Eddie Gibb)
65 The List 9-22 September l994