Welsh valleys to the Orkneys. On the way they encounter some oddballs and not a little danger. But it is the skill with which Plater handles the banter and fumbling of middle-aged amour that captures the attention and makes you give a damn about his creations.

‘What I like about the character is he doesn't let things get him down,‘ says Bates. ‘He’s got a good philosophy on life and he's not involved in the rat race.’

For Bates. now 60. this isn’t the first high-profile Oliver in his career. His best known scene on celluloid remains his notorious naked wrestling

‘What I like about the character is that he’s got a good philosophy on lite and he’s not involved in the rat race.’

Traveller’s affair

Despite controversy over the choice of lead actor, Alan Bates has settled comfortably into his role as a superannuated academic in Alan Plater’s latest BBC drama, says Robert Gray.

.i‘ ' ' . . w' i in F- match wrth hell-raiser Oliver Reed in the film version ~ , . r' of DH. Lawrence's Women in Love. i What attracted him to this Oliver was an empathy , with the character and admiration for the ‘mischievous’ nature of Plater's script. ‘1 find it a g I very unusual piece.‘ says Bates. ‘lt’s quirky and it's mysterious and it’s romantic.’ " Oliver is Travels benefits from a strong cast. There

if you prefer a pick and mix approach to programmes. then Oliver's Travels may be just the return ticket. It is part road odyssey. part romantic comedy, pan keen observation of human nature. And then there is some murder and mystery thrown in for good measure.

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it‘s a series that resolutely avoids categorisation. oumvs travels: Man 33,” and 55",,“ cl,ng m m, high", are bit parts for Charlotte Coleman. who caught the Unless. that is, you consider wry and whimsical eye playing Hugh Grant's little sister in Four character studies shot amid breath-taking British Taking redundancy in his stride. Oliver sets out to Weddings and a Funeral. Glaswegian actor Bill countryside as belonging to a genre all of their own. tmek down a eempller 0t cryptic crosswords Who Paterson also stars, taking the part of Baxter. a This five-part drama comes from the prolific pen of glories in the PseUdOhylh ArlStOtle- OltVeh You see menacing, shadowy figure who trails the peripatetic Alan Plater. one of Britain’s most consistent is the kind Ofehai) Who Tell-“hes Wordplay. He is twosome. ‘There's a twist in the tale that i can’t talk screenwriters - his other credits include the trad- Obsessed by Clues and anagrams and COhUhdrUlllSl about,‘ says Paterson. ‘My character is evil. But he jazzy Beiderbecke trilogy. Barchester Chronicles. Whleh is What You'd expect from 3“ eeeehtrle jail has a secret life, he’s schizophrenic.‘ Fortunes of War and A Very British Coup. bUtl academic Who set-e Obscure title-“titth tor Plater‘s deft touch with dialogue means the gags Plater‘s new series about a lecturer (Alan Bates) in Mil-ilerml'ld- come naturally and not at the expense of the comparative religion at the playfully named New BUt When Oliver reitehen‘ Al‘lStOtle‘S lSOlfltetl cottage narrative. it’s a warm, witty drama with sympathetic university ofthc Rhondda valley (NURV for short) he is unnerved to find it has been gutted by a fire. Of characters who should have you snuggling whose is regarded as surplus to requirements hCi'O there not a trace. SO OllVCl' heads 0” i0 contentcdly in your armchair. i3, ofcourse, the insufferably soulless principal. (The choice of the local Constabtllafy Where he meet-8‘ WPC Diane exactly the effect the programmers of Sunday Bates was recently criticised by Plater who went on Pile-“ti Played by the mdlflht Slheild CUSHCR- evening television are after. record to say the part was written for Tom Counenay, The two strike-up a relationship that blossoms into but the Spat between writer and BBC producers romance. Together they set off in Oliver’s ancient Oliver Cs Travels starts on 11 June at 9.05pm on seems to have been smoothed over.) Volkswagen on a joumey that takes them from the BBC]. SCREENWRIIEBS the “mnmllef's Status in the writer,’ says Boyd. ‘Writers are Despite Hollywood’s uneasy Hollywood studio system was only powerful but they’re not encouraged relationship with its scriptwriters, I marginally above clapper-loader; Sam to believe that. There’s a tear that one there is an almost unquestioning iaith Goldwyn put it more bluntly referring day writers will realise they are at the that books make the best, or at least to the breed as ‘schmucks with creative hub oi the iilm business.’ the most successful, iilms; three- tuff linderwoods’. Raymond Chandler There are a tow - Joe Eszterhas quarters oi all Hollywood movies are countered by saying that ‘the basic art (Basic Instinct) and Hora Ephron adaptations. With adaptations oi high- oi motion pictures is the screenplay; it (When Harry Met Sally) spring to mind proiile novels, the resulting illms are is iundarnental, without it there is - who wield genuine movie-making often uniairly judged, argues Boyd. lie nothing’. As a writer, he would say clout. But lust about any writer who cites the illm version oi Bonilre oi the that wouldn’t he? has worked in Hollywood, including Vanities which was roundly In an extended interview to mark literary greats like F. Scott Fitzgerald condemned as a $45 million iiasco’ Channel 4’s season oi screen and William Faulkner, complained oi but measured against Tom Woiie's adaptations The level Image, novelist ‘rewrite hell’ as executives demand deilnltive 80s novel it didn’t stand a and seasoned screenwrth William endless changes based on an chance. Posterlty may be kinder to 301‘ 3099883 "I!" l8 8 reason it" apparently tenuous understanding oi such adaptations, it they are judged the low respect the movie industry the script. on their own merits, says Boyd. The aiiords the humble wordsmith. They The collision oi the writer’s art and level image is a chance to test the are iundamental but studio bosses the screen industry is beautifully theory. (Eddie Gibb) would ureter not to let the writers satirised in the Coen brothers’ movie The Novel Image is on Sunday 11 June. kl!" lt- ‘TlIO 8m"! “not! has Barton Fink about a playwright who The season at illrns starts with Bonilre 1. my m M. g. mt, mm concentrated attention on the director heads to Hollywood with high Ideals oi the Vanities and lnclnes Rage in version at Bonfire oi the muss which has danaged the role oi the and ends up scripting wrestling Hicks. Harlem and Castaway.

72 The List 2-15 Jun 1995