Out of the Blue: traditional British hobbies with an American cop-show spin
Yes, it’s another police procedural series. But the writers reckon that with Out of the Blue they’ve found a new take on a very well-worn theme, or at least revived an old one. ‘It’s smack in the tradition of British television and I feel it’s a tradition that we may have lost,’ says Peter Bowker, whose previous writing credits include ratings smashes like Casualty and Peak Practice. ‘lt’s a tradition that goes back to 2 Cars and Softly Softly.’
The series was shot on location in Sheffield after the writers spent a lot of time with uniforms and CID in Yorkshire. What came through from speaking to the police, according to co-writer Bill Gallagher, was the humour involved in police work and this is something he was keen to reflect in Out of the Blue. ‘The police themselves said time and again “just
make it funnier - all we ever see are these dour coppers on screen”.’
Although the series may have its roots in early British classics, many of the techniques used to create the intimacy and bustle of a cop shop are borrowed from recent American police dramas. The ‘blue’ reference of the title is surely a nod to US cop show influences, while the use of handheld cameras which never quite follow the dialogue is straight out of last year’s cult hit Homicide. The ensemble cast, which includes Scottish actor John ‘Four Weddings’ Hannah, emphasises the fragmented structure and parallel storylines. The question is whether downtown Sheffield can ever match the excitement of flew York’s mean streets. (Eddie Gibb)
Out of the Blue starts on Tuesday 23 May at 9.30pm on BBC1.
I Storyline: Curriculum Vitae (Radio Scotland) Mon 22 May. 11.45am. Eileen MacCullum reads from Edinburgh-born creator of Miss Jean Brodie. Muriel Spark’s autobiography. adapted here for radio by Bruce Young. First episode — 'An Edinburgh Childhood’.
I HewsAmerica (Radio 5 Live) Fri 19 May, 9.05pm. Jonathon Freedland presents a new magazine programme which zooms in on the social and moral issues currently at large in the States. Steering clear of Washington and the headline news stories of the day. Freedland will be casting his net a little further to catch up on the stories that affect the daily lives of ordinary Americans. Parents carrying out drug tests on their own children. custody battles in court. and parents who try to reclaim the children they‘ve given up for adoption are among the items to be featured in the ﬁrst few weeks.
I The History of Clubbing (Radio 1) Sun 21 May. 7pm. Another chance to join top dance music DJ Pete Tong as he lays down the colourful history of the British club scene in this repeat documentary. Starting out with the Mecca ballroom days when Dl’s practised sub-Emperor Rosko lines and punters did the ‘hully gully‘. Tong travels through the 70s soul scene, the emergence of high-energy and jazz- funk and looks back on the 80s with the help of Steve Strange. Coldcut, Dave Haslem and Radio 1‘s Danny Rarnpling.
I The Psychology of War (Radio 4) Tue 23 May. 11.30am. A new series which looks at the ultimate weapon in any war — the human psyche. Retired major and Falklands veteran Hugh McManners. who has carried out extensive studies into post traumatic stress disorder, examines the way both soldiers and civilians are manipulated in times of conﬂict. and the wider effects they can have long after the battle is lost or won. The first programme. which carries the faintly disturbing title ‘How to be a Killer’. looks at the processes involved in transforming a rough-round-the-edges recruit into a lean. mean ﬁghting machine.
I Bhangra Show of the Century (Radio 1) Wed 24 May, 7.30pm. BBC Radio‘s ﬁve day long live music fest — ‘Music Live '95‘ — kicks off with this tribute to Bhangra which comes straight to your tranny from The Dome in Birmingham. The line-up includes Bally Sagoo. Alaap. Malkit Singh, Safri Boys. Apna Sangeet. DCS. Achanak and Amar.
I Inside Edge (Radio 5 Live) Mon 29 May. 8.05pm. Subtitled 'Heysel and After: A Decade of Football Revolution‘ this special edition of Inside Edge takes a look at the impact the Heysel Stadium disaster has had on football and its supporters and the changes that have come about in the ensuing ten years. Rogan Taylor. a broadcaster and football fanatic who is currently setting up a Football Studies Institute at Liverpool University. puts forward his case that Heysel was a nadir in English football which has led to a ten-year long revolution in the game. (Ellie Carr)
Everyone knows the story about the record company talent scout who passed on The Beatles, but pop culture history has been unkind to the guy. He kept his job by securing the signatures of a promising white-boy blues combo called the Rolling Stones. For A&R peOpIe — that‘s ‘artists and repertoire‘ to you — this story is a reminder that you’re only as good as your last deal in the record industry. which is probably why these people are such obnoxious. short attention-spanned, uninterested- in-music individuals. They are in a state of perpetual paranoia that some else might sign The Byrds while you‘re left with A Flock of Seagulls.
The Music BIZ (BBCZ), a new series of behind-the-scenes documentaries about the record industry, cannin started off with a look at The Deal. It’s the moment which finds the music industry at its most venal, and the wannabe artists themselves don't seem much better behaved. Mention the word advance and they’ll sign anything. up to and including a pact with the devil.
The Music Biz rounded up a hit parade of stars who were queuing up to say how they‘d been stiffed by their record company, and moan about what a bunch of sharks the music industry is. This special pleading came from a bunch of people — Billy Joel, Jon Bon Jovi, Michael Hutchence of INXS - who would like you to believe they‘re down to their last limo. Each one said proudly, as if it was a sign of artistic purity, that they hadn‘t a clue what they were signing. Even Faustus did a better job of reading the small print.
The biggest sob story. if you call becoming a multi-millionaire a sob- story, is George Michael, whose contract with CBS Records which he signed at the age of eighteen, is now the property of Sony. When he tried unsuccessfully to wriggle out of his contract in the High Court last year, Michael discovered that a deal’s a deal and the $30 billion record industry has no plans to start doing business any other way. You play as we earn is how it works.
The western frontier of the middle of the last century was the ‘laboratory of the American identity’, according to one historian quoted in the ﬁrst part of Ric Bums’s fascinating documentary The Wild West (Channel 4). As they travelled further from the temperate eastern seaboard into the north American continent’s massive interior,
the new Americans found it harder to
cling on to their European roots. The Wild West is where the myths that form the basis of modern America‘s sense of self were created.
Cutting together archive photographs and testimony of the ancestors of the 9 million or so Native Americans who were wiped out during the white man‘s BOO-year occupation of the continent, Burns shows why this identity contains so many contradictions and anxieties.
The killing of Indians and the seizing oftheir lands - in Native American lore it amounts to almost the same thing -— was a brutal episode of American history that for the most part was done in the name of Christianity. The wagon trains of Mormon pioneers who crossed Indian territory to reach the promised land of California, truly believed they had God on their side. And while the early pioneers were pleased enough just to pass through the territories safely, when the Gold Rush began in 1861, all bets were off as prospectors ﬂooded west to stake their claim on a fortune.
According to Bums‘s account. some Indian tribesmen considered heading east because they assumed there couldn’t be anybody left in that part of the country. They reckoned without the new Americans‘ ability to multiply and colonise, marking out their own patch with fences and roads. The idea of Real Estate was new to the continent’s native inhabitants who believed the land belonged to all, but boy did it catch on. Getting yourself a backyard which can be kept secure for the family has become a key part of the American psyche. This fact is demonstrated by the way some American householders itch to unload a pile of lead into an intruder‘s rear-end — it’s also an urge which has formed the basis of several presidents’ foreign policy.
Takeover TV (Channel 4) purports to be ‘access television‘ brought to our screens by the makers of Manhattan Cable. The whole point of access television in America, as Wayne and Garth will tell you, is that anyone can broadcast straight to subscribers‘ screens. Takeover TV lacks this directness; the programme producers get to select the clip for us. The result, no doubt reflecting a British comedy obsession, is a series of bottom jokes
presented by Norman Sphincter, who literally talks out of his arse. Bring back Laurie Pike! (Eddie Gibb)
The List 19 May-1 Jun 1995 77