Although 3802 controller Michael Jackson put a positive spin on his decision to axe The Late Show - creating more peak-time arts coverage was the official line - at least part of the reason is related to the corporation’s current cash squeeze and a craving for ‘flexibility’ in the late night schedule. The high- brow double whammy of news and culture that starts with llewsnight, a fixed point that has long irritated programme schedulers. could be on the move.
But while it seems certain that the unit which makes The Late Show will see its output drop, many of the existing elements will continue when the ‘mark two’ version is launched in September. The single film slot on Monday nights will return, as will the intellectual )ousting by the critics panel on Thursday’s Late Review. There are also plans for a media- orientated programme which will
continue The Late Show’s ‘global village’ fascination.
Since it was first broadcast, The Late Show has been a sitting target for sniping that it catered exclusively to the interests of the middle-class, London-based intelligentsia. The notional viewer was assumed to be a black polo neck-wearer and Groucho Club member. It’s entirely
: coincidental, but rather fitting, that
Julie Burchill’s The Modern Review —
T the Late Show’s nearest equivalent in ‘ print - should come to an end in the
same week. But if The Modern Review billed itself ‘low culture for high
3 brows’, The Late Show at least had
broader interests - it also tackled
‘I think it’s true to say that in some
3 way we did redefine what arts TV can . do which is something that Arena
[BBC’s long-running arts documentary series] paved the way for,’ says Late Show series editor Michael Poole. ‘We explore the hinterland of culture and politics, and i don’t think there are many programmes that ranged that widely.’
The late Show’s six-year reign enabled the programme to chart the
death throes of the Thatcher
administration and the lingering hangover of the post-Thatcher years. It also did a good job of giving a cultural perspective on the fall of the Berlin Wall, and from its very first programme, which by chance featured Salman Rushdie, reported on the artistic repression of the fatwah.
0n the lighter side, The Late Show leaves memories — some of which will no doubt feature in the nostalgic ‘best of’ compilation. Who can forget Sarah Dunant’s comedy glasses, the impossibility of pronouncing Waldemar Januszczak’s name and the
sneering awfulness of Paul Morley, ; who really did wear a black polo- ; neck? (Eddie Gibb)
1001 flights of The Late Show is on Monday 19 June at 11.15pm on 8862.
I Paul Weller - ‘This Is My Job' (Radio 4) Sat 17 June. 7.20pm. His royal modness plays an extended solo session in 3
this Kaleidoscope special. taking in songs old and new along with a Bob Dylan cover and a bit of bluegrass.
I Ambient (Radio 1) Sun l8 June. 7pm. Soullcss muzak or something more? Future Sound of London accompany Pete Tong as he ventures out of the chill-out room to ask what exactly is ambient? The Orb and the Aphex Twin are there as you might expect. along with old-timers Brian Eno and Erik Satie.
I The Death Of Alexander Scriabin (Radio 3) Sun 18 June. 7.30pm. Olly Reed sobers up enough to make his radio debut as occult icon Aleister Crowley in old chum Ken Russell‘s new play about Russian mystic composer Scriabin.
and Dunn here takes issue with last year's rather daft hype that suggested poetry was
the new rock ‘n‘ roll. ' I The Witching Hour (Radio 1) Sun 25
Jtme. 7pm. Paganism among the under-
30s is becoming an increasingly popular 3 pursuit. Amanda Sealy here explores ﬁrst
hand a world of ritual and witchery as she attends a Pagan marriage. strips off in the
name of spiritual purification and learns how to cast spells. ‘ I Mary Barnes (Radio 4) Mon 26 June.
7.45pm. David Edgar‘s startling play is given a new production as part of the ‘States of Mind' season. It tells the true story of a woman who enters the depths of madness. meets psychiatric iconoclast RI). Laing and moves to Kingsley Hall. the therapy centre and commune Laing
5 ran in the 60s. i I The Lateral History Programme (Radio
I Glastonbury live (Radio l) Sat 24 June. .
2pm. Oasis. Jeff Buckley. Black Crowes and Everything But the Girl are the headliners of this year’s mudfest. Ten hours of coverage is hosted by John Peel and Johnnie Walker, who slip backstage for assorted exclusives in between the sounds.
I Conversations With Poets (Radio 3) Sat 24 June. 1.02pm. Scot Douglas Dunn is the ﬁrst of six candidates to take part in free-ranging chats with Simon Rae. A poem from Dunn's latest collection asks ‘What has a decent poet left to teach?‘.
List 16-29 Jun 199%
2) Wed 28 June. 9.03pm. Sid Kipper takes a tongue in cheek look at the history of the natural world via the medium of
i folksong in this new series. ‘ I The Shuttleworths (Radio 4) Wed 28
June. llpm. Aspiring singer/songwriter
John Shuttlewoth plugs in his Bontempi
organ for a new series of advanced
mundanity and showbiz anecdotes. John is
none too thrilled by the titneslot though.
1 which he sees as a very unsociable hour. I: So along with next door neighbour and ; sole agent Ken he proceeds to gatecrash
the airwaves in search of peak listening. (Neil Cooper)
If animal lover ('arla Lane‘s sense of British fair play is offended by the export of eratcd veal calves to the continent. my artt‘chair outrage is directed towards someone who can serve up something as truly appalling as Searching (Scottish) in the name of television comedy. Like the poor little
veal calf. Lane‘s new sitcom has the air j
of a production that has spent too long in a darkened studio. undernourished and cut off from the outside world. When the first episode emerged into the daylight blinking and confused on lTV. it marked the end of lane's twenty-year reign as the BBC's queen of sitcom (The Liver Birds. Butter/lies
the 50-minute interview. a terrified Sir David was pinned to his seat as she swivelled fonvard. eyes-a-poppin'. to squawk that the present government was ‘not being Conservative enough‘. Momentarily it looked as if this bug- eyed woman would transmogrify into Steve Bell's (hum/tan caricature of Thatcher. Should we mentally prepare
' for John Major‘s appearance on
television live years hence with a pair of baggy underpants worn over his lounge suit'.’
Sir David is a specialist of the soft- soap interview and was summoned to
I America in the early 70s to do a similar rehab job on Richard Nixon a few years
and Bread are produced as evidence of , tough line in questioning which
good character. though previous offences such as Solo should be taken into consideration before sentencing). Whatever. the BBC was probably relieved not to have to be polite about
after Watergate. If you're looking fora
doggedly pursues a point. Frosty is not your man. His deceptively banal
g technique avoids confrontation by
her latest comedy situation. a voluntary t ‘ off the ball. And occasionally Thatcher
therapeutic care centre for neurotic women.
Jokes about therapy have been a staple
of American comedy since Woody Allen first booked couch time with his shrink. The neuroses of a balding. Jewish man approaching middle—age with an obsessional love of Swedish ill't-ITOUSC cinema we can believe; but a woman who spends all day hiding under an umbrella as one of the characters does in Searching? Well. let'sjust say we would have to find out a little bit more about the way her parents handled potty training to understand her motivation. When one of the barmy suburban women makes a laboured joke about the centre’s spinsterish leader (I’runclla Scales) having ‘ovaries clanking like a pair of castanets‘. it’s hard not to think of the equally barren state of Lane‘s funny glands.
Talking of failing powers, Lady Thatcher‘s appearance with Sir David Frost (hey, what's a couple of titles between friends?) was a textbook example of what happens when you tum off a career politician's life support system -- power. In Thatcher - The Path to Power and Beyond (BBC l) she described work as a ‘secret elixir’ and it‘s obvious the former Prime Minister does not regard pufﬁng the second instalment of her memoirs on an upmarket chatshow (straight-backed dining chairs rather than sofas) as proper work. In semi-retirement. the elixir of work has been replaced by the odd belt ofelectric soup with Dennis and our formerly glorious leader does not look well on it at all.
Has boredom driven this famoust non-U-turning Lady clean round the U-bend‘? ()n several occasions during
bowling politicians simple under- armers in the hope they‘ll take their eye
allowed the festering bitterness which seems to be eating at her to leak out.
5 ‘We only had a majority of 45.‘ she
recalled. before adding with evident delight at her successor‘s parliamentary difficulties: ‘()f course. that sounds quite large now doesn‘t it'."
What would a psychologist make of Thatcher‘s bizarre body language. I wonder? Analysis of human behaviour on television has long been associated with the embarrassingly unstylish Desmond Morris. whose safari suits always looked a little out of place while ‘manwatching‘ on Plumstead High Street. So a warm welcome for new TV
psychologist Dr Kwame McKenzie.
whose funky collarless suits and engaging mugging to camera were a
In The Mind Field (Channel 4) McKenzie aims to expose the psychology ofeveryday existence. The first programme was about lies and he illustrated his theory that lying is simply a vital urban survival technique by assembling a celebrity poker school. Actor Keith Allen. comedian Patrick Marber and novelist Martin Amis all bluffed and puffed their ciggies like Vegas pros as they explained their strategies for keeping a poker face. And it‘s not all about body language as you might imagine — people deprived of sight theoretically have a better chance of spotting a lie because speech patterns are a bigger give-away.
Just one question, however — would you bet against a guy with a £500,000 publisher's advance in his pocket. as Amis has from his last book? Even Bugsy Siegel might have had to leave a marker in that company. (Eddie Gibb)