mumm— Jungle fever
Steaming up river through the deepest Borneo jungle with monkeys leaping from every tree is a common enough boy’s own fantasy. It certainly was for Edinburgh-based cameraman Andy McLeod, though not one he’d ever had a chance to live out. Promotional videos for the Bank of Scotland had been as exotic as his life had got. ‘There’s nothing worse than standing around on a cold, wet, windy hillside with a camera crew and the sound recordlst is going on about the last
time he was in China when you’ve only
been as tar as Livingston,’ says Mcleod. So when the opportunity ' came up to travel to Borneo to research the work of orang-utan preservationist Professor Birute Caldikas, he jumped at the chance.
At this point it all seemed beautifully simple. The production team was in place and they had the support of the Orang-utan Foundation. He even persuaded science-fantasy author Terry Pratchett, whose best-selling Iliscworld series features an orang-
utan character, to join them at his own .
expense to provide a focus for the proposed documentary.
But McLeod had reckoned without the country’s political attitude to conservationists. Orang-utans roam through huge tracts of Indonesian Bomeo’s virgin rainlorest which the government wants to cut down for timber. ‘The Indonesian government are out to discredit Professor Caldikas,’ says Mcleod. ‘They banned
Orang-utans: lighting for survival in Borneo
us from filming her, which upset Terry Pratchett - he said it would be like Hamlet without the ghost. But we ‘ managed to manipulate our way into a situation where we could interview her, which made our government minders’ eyes stand out on stalks!’ Shooting the lilm required Pratchett and the three-man crew to sleep on a boat in the middle of the jungle for two weeks and live an a diet of rice and fish caught in the river. But when they returned, a cash shortage threatened to stop the project in its tracks until Channel 4 agreed to pay the film’s post-production costs. McLeod’s adventure ‘beyond his wildest childhood iantasy’ was complete. (Thom Dibdin) Terry Pratchett and the Bed Ape is screened as part of the Short Stories strand on Monday 12 June at 8pm on Channel 4.
RADIO HIGHLIGHTS .
I Tom Wilson’s Bouncing Beats (Radio Forth) Mon 5 June. 6.30pm. The Chemical Brothers (formerly known as the Dust Brothers) hit the decks for a night oftheir own personal mixes.
I Celtic Connections (Radio Scotland) Sat 10 June. 10.05am. Melancholy soaked Blue Nile singer/songwriter Paul Buchanan talks to Mary-Ann Kennedy in this regular slot dedicated to contemporary celtic music.
I Cover Stories: Horoscopes (Radio Scotland). Mon 12 June. noon. What makes otherwise normal people believe Mystic Meg when she predicts they're going to meet a tall. dark stranger on a train? Ian Docherty is joined by Shelley von Strunckel and Nick Campioa as he attempts to shed some light on why the British public are so addicted to horoscopes.
I An Unfortunate Turn of Events (Radio 4) Mon l2 June. 8.43am. The passengers on the now infamous recent voyage of the QE2 were not best pleased when they discovered they‘d payed £78,000 to sail on a ship covered in the rubble of 100 unﬁnished cabins. John Howard talks to the contractors. the lawyers. and the passengers currently sueing Cunard for compensation in the ﬁrst of this new series looking at some of the biggest corporate cock-ups in recent years.
I Movers and Shakers (Radio 3) Mon 12 June. 9.30pm. Faynia Williams puts the spotlight on women who‘ve made it big in the theatre in this new four-part series. The ﬁrst proﬁle is a two-part special on Joan Littlewood. the founder of 60s outﬁt Theatre Workshop. and a woman who reportedly held a deep dislike for ‘posh acting‘.
I Bash Street: Unplugged (Radio 4) Tue 13 June. 10.02am. Leo Baxendale. the man who gave life to that unruly mob of schoolboys who‘ve wreaked havoc across the pages of the Beatm for over 40 years. profiled here in a one-off programme tracing the creation of the Bash Street Kids. Find out why teacher wore a gown but the kids didn‘t wear uniforms: why Fatty and Plug survive even the closest
, politically correct scrutiny; and why not
' even the police could contain the crazy kids of Bash Street.
I Matt Black and Chrome (Radio 4) Thurs l5 June. 2.02pm. Dominic Minghella. writer of BBC Scotland‘s
; Hamish Macbeth and brother of Truly,
' Madly, Deeply playwright Anthony
Minghella. pens his ﬁrst play for radio. Ronnie Rossi (played by Vincenzo Nicoli
’ from Shine On Harvey Moon) is a high-
flying but unfulﬁlled advertising copywriter. When he receives a phonecall from a mysterious woman who accuses him of ruining her life. he is somewhat shaken and very puzzled. Could it be his neglected girlfriend Anna. or any number of a rather long list of women he‘s scorned?
I The World Tonight Special: Return to Rolling Thunder (Radio 4) Thurs IS June. 7.20pm. Twenty years after the end of war in Vietnam. Simon Dring returns to the country where at just sixteen years old he became the youngest ever Reuter correspondant. covering one of the most brutal conﬂicts the world had ever seen. Spread over two programmes. this special report shadows Dring as he meets up with fellow Vietnam Warjournalists. ﬂies out with the US military. and travels by motorbike with a former South Vietnamese soldier to the Viet Cong villages where he once fought. (Ellie Carr)
When coincidence strikes and similar concepts for programmes arrive in the schedule at the same time. the formulaic ways of television are cruelly exposed. Already Lynda La Plante‘s The Gm'et'llm' is halfway through its six-episode stretch with Janet McTeer as the women in charge of an all-male maximum security prison. It would be unfair to say that gender conflict is all that's going on in this series. but would it have been made without that dramatic tension? Not likely.
Which brings us to two new series with central female characters who spend at least halftheir time bouncing their pretty little heads on the glass ceiling. To be fair Jennifer Holt doesn't just have problems dealing with men — the entire human race is a mystery to her. Perhaps years of ministering to dumb animals makes it hard to relate to your fellow man. but one of the curious features of The Vet (BBCI) is the way Jennifer seems incapable of ﬁnishing off a conversation without a shouting match or someone slamming a barn door. Never before has such a collection of socially maladroit characters been assembled in one series. and that‘s just the sheep.
As the title craftin hints. The Vet is about veterinarians who ply their trade in a Devonshire backwood where the oor-arr accents are as thick as clotted cream and the intellects don‘t flow much faster. So when srnall-anirnal vet Jennifer arrives frotn London. it's odds- on the farming fratemity isn‘t going to take to her. ‘I'm being taught horse sense by a townie vet and a woman to boot.‘ grumbles the village's whisky- soused bloodstock owner. And that. in a sentence. is the dramatic mainspring which makes this series tick. The prevailing view is that sticking your hand up a cow’s jacksie is man's work.
The picture of a rural community painted in The Vet is intended to point out the harsh realities of country living. It’s not all farmhouse kitchens and pints of warm beer. Farmers go bust. animals die — there's nothing quaint about being a homy-handed tiller of the soil. m‘dear. This would come as no surprise to Jennifer ifshe‘d spent a few cosy evenings in with All Creatures Great and Small. Beastly things happened to the beasts all right. but Siegfried and the chaps still managed a civil word over sherry at the end of the day. What The Vet lacks is that feel-good factor. which is so vital to the sort of popular Sunday night entertainment this series so desperately wants to be. We already know where they keep the gun that's used to deliver horses to the great
paddock in the sky —- let‘s hope the BBC acts humanely when the The Vet ﬁnishes its ﬁrst run.
Rewind a hundred years and to describe Jennifer‘s run-ins with a few manure-sputtered farmers as sexual discrimination seems a little trivial. In the new Victorian costume drama Bramwell (Scottish). Eleanor Bramwell .(Gemma Redgrave) is battling against the class system. the clergy and a battalion of crinolined ladies and bewhiskered men who believe a woman's place is in the parlour. But instead of practising her needlepoint. this headstrong young ﬁlly fought to get to medical school and now plans on becoming a surgeon. When Eleanor swears to her ﬁrst ever surgical case that she's never lost a hernia patient. the trusting fool mistakes the glint of ambition in her eye for honesty.
Despite the costume department's attempts to lace up everyone in armour- plated corsetry. Bramwell has a raucous cackle about it which would almost certainly be missing in a detail- obsessed BBC production. There's something almost ‘Carr'y ()n Dickens' about the bawdy parcel of East End rogues who populate the poorhouse hospital where the compassionate Eleanor does her ‘really important' work. Having a leg sawn off under dubiously administered anaesthetic might be almost bearable if you could count on this bless'd angel being there to hold the bloody stump.
Six women who. one way or another. seem to have lived a life under the unintentional oppression of men. were the subject of Marilyn Ciaunt‘s remarkable ﬁltn ‘The Class of '62'. shown in the current series of True Stories (Channel 4). This was a follow- up to a ﬁlm Gaunt made in l983 about a school reunion with her classmates from Leeds. By narrowing the ﬁeld to six women the second time round. she was able to explore in greater detail the dashed hopes and mainly unfulﬁlled ambitions of her closest school pals.
All but one had married young. had children and spent the rest of their lives trying to assert their own identity which was always in danger of being smothered by the mother/wife bind of family life.
Now approaching 50. they had begun to reassert the sense of self which seemed to get lost very quickly after leaving school. Unlike Eleanor i Brarnwell and Jennifer Holt. Gaunt‘s ‘Class of ‘62” had realised that real emancipation must be ﬁrst achieved at home. (Eddie Gibb) [
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