If Banny Baker’s anything to go by (and there are those who say he is), then a key qualification for talk show hosts these days is an eclectic track record. On this basis, Tom Morton’s new show for Radio Scotland looks set to be a winner, for Morton has a career as checkered as Hunting Stewart.
Raised in Troon - where he developed twin passions for fundamentalist Christianity and tuning in to the off-shore pirate radio station moored nearby - he went on to become a rock ’n’ roll evangelist, touring widely and cutting three lPs.
Meanwhile, he flirted with lournaiism, which led, via the
(a building trade weekly), Melody Maker, Voyager (the ill-fated BBC religious television programme), and the Shetland Times, to a job as Highlands correspondent for The Scotsman, in whose pages he later emerged as a pithy columnist, winning the Columnist of the Year award earlier this year.
The new show will be broadcast trom Inverness, the town Morton’s coliimn notoriously vilified as ‘Cumbernauld in a kllt’. Morton, who still lives in Shetland but plans to stay on a houseboat within striking distance of Inverness during the week, thus facilitating hasty getaways, still claims the description was valid.
‘l note from the news last night,’ he chuckles, ‘that Inverness has been voted the most beautiful city in
disparate auspices ot Project Scotland =
4:! ' I k R: ‘M w Scotland. What they’ve done is put up about 2000 hanging baskets full of flowers to cover up any nasty bits; which is a bit difficult when you’re
trying to cover up dual carriageways. : ‘Anyway, as a result of that column,
a the door of my office was vandalised, I had anonymous phone calls, all the rest of it, but i also had an enormous wave of support from lnvernesians,
5 who agreed that the place was a dump.’
Though Morton promises ‘a radio
. version of my coiumn’, Inverness-
i bashing will be low on the show’s
' agenda. ‘lt’s about people and culture i and quirky events in Scotland,’ he
I says. ‘Basically, I want it to be
; enjoyable. if it’s not fun for me, then it’s not going to be fun for anybody else.’ (Andrew Burnet)
The Tom Morton Show goes out live on Radio Scotland, Monday to Friday, Ham-noon, starting Monday 24 October.
I From Chattanooga to San Jose (Radio 2) Sat 29 Oct. 6.03pm. Journalist and music fan Mick Brown traces a musical map of the Big Apple. holding up Gene Pimey‘s Tulsa. Chuck Berry‘s Memphis and Glenn Campbell‘s Phoenix and other place names immortalised in popular song. against the modern realities of these well sung-of towns.
I Europhiie (Radio 4) Sat 29 Oct. 11.30am. Radio 4’s European magazine programme was ﬁrst broadcast the weekend the Berlin wall came down. Five years on. the Europhile team returns to the city where East now meets West to ﬁnd out what it has all meant for the inhabitants. Also. special reports on Poland and Czechoslovakia.
I Children ot the ilight (Radio 2) Sun 30 Oct. 10.03pm. Horror ﬁends amongst ye can revel in this look at the history of horror in the movies from presenter George Perry. Everything from the Haunted Castle to the latest incarnation of Frankenstein from Kenneth Branagh. which opens at the London Film Festival this week.
I In Business (Radio 4) Sun 30 Oct. 7pm. The advent of the National Lottery looks set to turn the Great British public‘s enduring view of gambling as somewhat seedy and sinful on its head by actively encouraging everyone from kids to OAPs to take part. In Business raises some pertinent questions as Britain prepares to dive head ﬁrst into the lottery wheel.
I Book at Bedtime - The Ramayana of Valmikl: The Story of Ram of Ayodhya (Radio 4) Mon 31 Oct. 10.45pm.
Celebrate the annual Hindu Festival of Dwali with a great chunk ofclassic Indian mythological literature in this ten-part epic tale and listen out for Indian ﬁlm actor Shashi Kapoor of Sammy and Rosie Get Laid fame who plays the Ramayana Storyteller.
i i I Emma Freud: lilXS live at lunchtime (Radio 1) Mon 31 Oct. noon. The last of Radio 1's 0(‘I()/)L’Iﬁ’.\‘t of live music sees Australia‘s INXS in a special lunchtime gig. Half an hour of ‘back-to-back classics' reach your radio from a secret studio (safe presumably. from the ravages of adoring fans) and performed before of a SOO-strong. invites-only crowd. I City on Air: Zeitgeist Times (Radio 4) Thurs 3 Nov. 2pm. Tall tales. urban myth. poetry and music of the Mancunian kind. written and brought to you by some of the city‘s young up-and-coming performers. including Dave Gorman. comic and Cheryl Martin. playwright. singer. poet. Yoof radio in the making. (Ellie Carr)
Biker? Check. Construction worker?
Check. Cop? Check . . . wait a goddamn minute, where‘s the Indian chief? This is a Village People convention, right, so we need the guy with the feathers? Er no actually, it‘s Ricki lake (Channel 4), the new babe ofthe chatshows, looking for the perfect Blue Collar Man to work the female members of her audience into a lather.
But wait. did you say babe? Isn’t Ricki Lake the fat kid whose frantic frugging caused a static storm of man- made ﬁbres in John Waters' 50s teen pastiche Hairspray? Wise up: this is now, and Ricki is the hottest new talent on American television with a show billed as ‘talk for today’s generation'. Ricki is the ugly duckling teenager who has transformed herself into an self- assured, glossy-haired twentysomething career girl. Her public coming of age with its ritual loss of puppy fat has made Ricki the sweetheart of a generation of young Americans looking for a chatshow to call their own.
()ur ﬁrst dive into the Lake show. featuring the afore-mentioned assembly of thick-necked masculinity. showed Ricki at her flirty best. cheerleading her audience with delighted whoops: ‘alriiiiight!’ Oprah who?
Are you up to speed on the X-Files (BBC2)? If not, it‘s time you were, because this show has stumbled on the recipe for a cult that could run and run. Take your staple Twilight Zone weirdness. stir in the repeating riffs and stylistic tics of David Lynch‘s small town fascinations and pour the mixture into a straight-sided police procedural mould. Bake for 45 minutes and serve in weekly slices. Me, I'm hooked on this kooky confection.
To recap, the X-Files are an FBI dumping ground for unsolved cases with the sort of out-there features most federal agents wouldn‘t touch with a nightstick. Not Fox Mulder. a man obsessed with solving the cases no one else will touch. He's branded a crank but gets to work his own investigative seam because none of the top brass can think of anything better to do with him. But. ever the control freaks. they decide to assign Special Agent Dana Scully to work with Mulder and keep an eye on his cranky investigations.
‘Mulder's preoccupation with fringe matters has been a big source of
friction in the Bureau.‘ says Scully’s boss. Mulder has a different perspective: ‘This is the essence of science — you ask an impertinent question and you're on the way to a pertinent answer.‘
The X-Files is a kind of Copernicus- meets-the-ﬁat-earthers, with Mulder cast in the role of scientiﬁc maverick. A couple of episodes in, it's revealed that he has an inside track on the paranormal stuff. When he was twelve, Mulder witnessed his younger sister‘s disappearance in a ﬂash of light. Snatched by aliens you might think: Mulder does, and Scully is beginning to believe maybe there is something to all this weird science.
What makes X-Files compelling is David Duchovny (you saw him in Twin Peaks. but where?) who avoids playing Mulder as a paranoid loner trying to avenge his sister. It almost pains him to conclude at the end of each episode that there isn’t a more mundane explanation. The little green men always start bottom of his list of suspects, but inevitably they're the only ones left in the frame by the end. Even given the fact that he’s a sister down hasn’t made him bitter. however — his is a kind of New Age philosophy which says: ‘If we let our minds expand enough. maybe someday we’ll understand the bigger picture.’ Intolerance. scepticism and narrow- mindedness bug him more than the thought of abducting aliens.
Finally. it would be churiish not to welcome back Cracker (Scottish). which in the ﬁrst story brings together a little-and-large dream ticket of Robbie Coltrane as Fitz and Robert Carlyle as Liverpool’s answer to Travis Bickle. Carlyle starts out as a right- thinking Guardian-reader but quickly mutates into a shaven-headed psycho. ofﬁng anyone who gets in his face. This being northern England, he wields a World War II rifle bayonet rather than a couple of six-shooters. but his victims are left just as dead.
Cracker isn’t interested in who dunnit — we know the killer's identity from the start -— so we can all make a stab (oops!) at psychological proﬁling, leaving Fitz free to get on with the important stuff: smoking. drinking and blowing three grand on a long-odds donkey. That’s why we watch it after all. (Eddie Gibb)
78 The List 21 October—3 November 1994