V TV REVIEW
You can tell the summer has ofﬁcially ﬁnished when the TV stations begin their holiday programmes season. There are two ways you can look at this: it’s either a sadistic ploy on their part to make the masses huddled around the wartn glow of the TV feel more miserable or it’s a ray of hope from the cathode tube, a promise that winter will end at some unspeciﬁed point and people will be able to undo a couple of buttons on their ﬂeecy overcoats without fez: of diverse extremities dropping off and hitting the frozen ground with a resounding clang.
Both BBC2 and Channel 4 have recently ﬁred the opening salvos in the battle to capture the attentions of the under 305 with travel shows featuring young people roughing it in exotic locations. The Beeb’s offering, The Big TTIo, follows three groups of friends in South East Asia and Australasia, the Mediterranean and the States while Channel 4 gives us The lonely Planet, a look at two individual travellers’ perambulations around various spots. based on information in the Lonely Planet travel guides.
Although the two shows have a similar brief in mind, they each have an entirely diﬁerent feel to them. The Blg TI’Ip was made by sending a cameraman and director along with the groups, sleeping in the same places, sharing their meals and experiencing the same stomach upsets. None of the travellers have any previous TV appearances under their meagre money belts and this shows. Not in a slapshod, messy way, but with a naive frankness that lends a refreshingly honest slant to the programme.
One of the travellers, Harry, is into hip-hop and looking for a girlfriend, we are told - 1 can see a causal connection there. Harry is later mugged, or ‘coshed and moshed’ as he puts it. No oily slick professionalism masks the unpleasant parts of travelling on the cheap. Maura, Paul and Roddy are three Glaswegian students going from Miami to New Orleans on the Greyhound. ‘We’ve been on the bus for eight hours and we’ve got another fourteen to go,’ deadpans Maura with a face like that of a bulldog chewing a wasp. Her expression tells you there’s been no make up and freshen up session before ﬁlming. What happened is what you, the viewer gets.
At times the camera work is fuzzy and
the sound quality dubious. The editing is hardcore yoof TV, ﬂashing graphics and rapidly switching shots. For some, this is merely annoying, but it does help capture the confusion of arriving in a foreign destination without a clue as to what is going on. This is an entirely different kettle of fried monkeys‘ brains from The lonely Planet. The camera shots are longer, sweeping views of windswept scenes. The programme is undoubtedly better shot yet it lacks the immediacy and integrity of The Blg Trip. You see more of the destination but converser less of the atmosphere of a place.
The presenter of this ﬁrst programme, set in Morocco, is Ian Wright, an artist, theatre performer, traveller and professional smug git. This man has been around, walked the boards and knows what he’s doing. All of which is very well, but it prevents the viewer from learning anything about the spots he visits because he seems to know everything about them already and has no particular wish to share this knowledge. The programme has much in common with a travel brochure - lots of glossy pictures, a small amount of local colour, but little hard information. We can see where Wright is but we don’t know what he’s
This isn’t to say the programme is worthless. There’s a huge amount of sadistic satisfaction to be had from watching Wright being doused in cold water and having his body stretched, wrestled and twisted into an interesting variety of painful contortions in a Moroccan bath house. Or there’s the scene where Wright meets two hash farmers peddling their wares on a lonely road. There’s so much mist around it looks as if they’ve torched a couple of ﬁelds of the stuff for him to sample.
In the ﬁnal analysis, The III Trip gets my holiday savings. Youthful enthusiasm knocks the backpack off jaded professionalism and has more in common with most young travellers’ experiences of heading off the beaten tracks. Still, the holiday season is far away and most of us will be watching the box and listening to the rain drumming on the windows rather than the rail tracks singing under the wheels for the next nine months. (Jonathan Trew)
A selection of television highlights, listed by day, in chronological order. gavislon listings compiled by Eddie
I Flashback (Channel 4) 3.25—4.30pm. Whenever a disaster of whatever type occurs, the area in which it happens is always swamped with media hacks until the public is deemed tired of the story and goes away. Bosnia is a good example. For once here’s a chance to see what has happened after the hacks have packed their bags. The place is Toxteth, thirteen years after some of the most serious rioting ever seen in Britain.
I Sounds of the Seventies (BBC2) 7.30—8pm. More fattr pas from the decade style forgot, including top fashion tips for retro swingers in the form of Abba’s blue satin knickerbockers and Kate Bush's catsuit. As if that isn’t enough to make your mouth water, the music is provided by The Carpenters, Sparks, Cockney Rebel, David Essex (swoon), Wings and Boney M.
I (In! III This World (BBCl) 9.30—10.30pm. Ghosts, curses and spirits from beyond the grave — a pile of mumbo jumbo nonsense designed to make kids behave and tourists ﬂock to historical sites of interest or is there really something to it? Sue Cook teams up with Lyall Watson, author of a number of books on the paranormal and parapsychologist Susan Blackmore. to examine four cases which defy rational explanation but have had a huge impact on those involved.
I or Terror’s Vault of Honor: The Serpent and the lialnbotv 11.05pm—12.25am. Continuing in a similar vein as the above, Dr Terror brings another spine tingler to the nation’s attention. Directed by Wes ‘Nightmare On Elm Street’ Craven, this movie is a slash above your average horror ﬂick skilfully blending voodoo with oppressive politics and some genuine spill-your-hot-chocolate frights.
I The Swimmer (Channel 4)
ll. lOpm—12.55am. Burt Lancaster swims from one suburban swimming pool to ' another in order to reach his Connecticut home. Each pool uiggers memories of his life. Reminds me of a jeans advert.
I David Hesselboii’s Baywatch (Scottish) 5.20—6pm. The uncrowned King of Crotchwatch delights the viewers with some of his personal favourite scenes. Despite being the butt of derision here. in Germany he’s revered as a leather clad rock god.
I Steve Wright’s People Show (BBCl) 5.30—6. 10pm. Love him or loathe him you have to admit he gets around. This evening Take That. Reeves and Mortimer and William Roache (Coronation Street’s Ken Barlow) join Wright for a blether. Apparently the idea of the show is to tap ‘into the things that are really talked about in pubs, offices and homes across the country.’ Alternatively and probably more enjoyably, why not head down the grog shop and ﬁnd out ﬁrsthand?
I lethal Weapon (Scottish) 9—1 lpm. The ﬁrst of two popcorn and no brain required ﬁlms on Scottish this evening. You will all be well aware of the plot to Lethal Weapon even if you can’t quite put your ﬁnger on the more subtle nuances. Not that it matters, if you’re female you can pant at Mel and the blokes can feel vaguely uncomfortable at just how well they identify with the buddy aspect of the ﬁlm.
I liaise The lied Lantern (Channel 4) 10.45pm-lam. For those who prefer their cinematic entertainment to be a little more cerebral, Zhang Yimou’s superbly crafted ﬁlm should ﬁt the bill. Nineteen-year-old Gong Li reluctantly agrees to become the concubine and fourth wife of a wealthy husband and ﬁnds herself the target of the other three wives’ venom.
.I Whoops Apocalypse (Scottish) “pm—12.45am. Light hearted political spoof which tapped into people’s fear of an imminent holocaust and still manages to raise a bellyful of laughs. Not to be confused with Apocalypse Now.
I The Great Antiques Hunt (BBC 1) 4.30—5. 15pm. Jilly Goolden presents the ﬁnal round of the antiques sleuths’ show from Glasgow. Two teams are given a hundred quid to blow at the Barras market. Which one will pick the genuine article and which one won’t? Will they go for the star prize in the showdown, a 'Palais Royal Walnut etui or be duped by the three-piece Meissen tea service? A nation awaits with bated breath.
I Songs oiPralse(BBC1) 6.25—7pm. Admittedly not one of the usual programmes covered by The List but this one looks well worth recording for posterity. Over 40,000 people will be at Manchester United’s Old Trafford Stadium for the biggest event ever staged by the Beeb. Just check the quality of these soundbites — ‘Like Manchester United, Songs ofPraise is a national institution’ reckons BBC Chairman Marmaduke Hussey, or this little gem from Stan Boardman ‘lt’s the only Match of the Day where everyone’s on the same side and there’s only one winner — the goal is God.’ Police are warning fans who don’t have tickets to stay away.
, its: " v Beyond The Clouds: A Small Town in .Chlna (Channel 4) 8—9.15pm. A repeat
showing for the ﬁrst of seven ﬁlms looking at everyday life in Lijiang. Phil Agland shot more than 55 miles of ﬁlm covering the lives of four ordinary families and the tensions. rivalries. passions and murder which occurred over the two years of ﬁlming. I Hale and Pace (Scottish) IO—lO.30pm. The two heavies in dinnerjackets who do .a neat sideline in selling halitosis neutralisers introduce a_ refreshing breath of mirth into the Sunday night schedule.
The List 7—20 October i994 71