Live and direct
ITN will make television history when it broadcasts live pictures of British bobbies on patrol, but is this the ﬁrst sign of a demand for real- life action from viewers jaded by too many police dramas, asks Eddie Gibb.
When 0.]. Simpson‘s white Ford Bronco was picked up by television cameras as it sped down the freeway trailing a flotilla of police cars in its wake, the networks interrupted scheduled programmes to transmit live pictures into millions of American homes. A celebrity car chase was always going to be a scoop, but the chances are that the pictures would have been broadcast on a local news channel even if the Bronco had been driven by Joe Blow. l.ive action television is big news in America. as more and more shows spring up to accommodate hours of video footage shot by both professional and amateur news hounds.
Already this forrn of ve’rin‘ television is making an impact on British screens. Video clips of the nation‘s less accomplished and downright reckless (but often not wreck-less) drivers are presented by a sanctimonious Alastair Stewart as an educational experience. However. I’u/ir‘e. C'unu’ru. Action! is not popular because of the handy tips on lane positioning. It's the ‘cor! I can‘t believe the Transit just did that' factor and traffic cops‘ wry comments as they witness yet another Morris Minor reversing down the fast lane which make it entertaining. Stewart's po-faced voice-overs are there to legitimise turning dangerous driving into entertainment.
Now, in a first for British television. l'l‘N cameras will be broadcasting police action live from a series of cameras in patrol cars around the country. Each
car will be tracked by a helicopter to provide ariel shots. and also to relay the images back to a control centre. which will beam out pictures live into our
living rooms. ('onvcniently. Saturday evening is a peak-time on television which coincides with a busy policing period.
‘l‘m a great believer in the power and watchability of live television to sustain viewer interest. Everyone knows the difference between watching a football match live and seeing the recorded highlights.' says executive producer Chris Shaw. ‘The interest won't come necessarily from sensational events — it's possible [though unlikely] that there won't be a single arrest. What we're offering is a neutral window on police activity.‘
With four police forces taking part. there will be some scope for switching between the most exciting events happening at any moment. but as Shaw admits, if there's an armed robbery close by and the patrol car carrying his camera isn't assigned to the crime scene. the viewer won‘t see the pictures. Shaw is confident it will be the details of police work which will interest viewers, not the big events. The fact that the viewing public is fascinated by police work is already established by the apparently endless
Police Action Live: just another Saturday night for British oppers
- stream of drama and ily-on-the-wall documentaries
which fill our screens. The police forces which have agreed to co-operate — London's Met, Greater Manchester. Hampshire and Northumbria -- obviously believe their public image cart benefit from
; people seeing this routine slice-of-life.
‘Talk to a lot ofofficers they will tell you there is a
j lot of police action on television and some of it is over—the-top.’ says Hampshire police spokesman Richard l-lorobin. ‘Wc‘re not looking for
scnsationalism and our Chief Constable has sought
assurances that they won't be bringing tragedy into
the living room.‘
if I’m/ire .‘l('li()ll Live succeeds. it will be because public fascination with policing extends to seeing the mundane details. To take Shaw's football a stage
further. watching a no-scorc draw live may at first
prove to be more exciting than the highlights of-l-3 nail-biter. The question is whether viewers will demand less police procedure and more juicy bits if this kind of live television becomes an established
i form ofenteitainmcnt on our screens, as it has in
l’nlir'e Arr/(m Live [s on Saturday IN r‘y’nvemln'r (II )»: on [TV
Cleverly scheduled to follow Brookside, presumably in the hope of attracting the soap’s younger and feistier female fans, the new Channel 4 comedy Dressing for Breakfast has all the hallmarks of a buddy-com for girls. Carla is in a stable, long-term relationship with a nice guy who does what he’s told, while her friend Louise has just finished another indifferent
Female angst about finding the man for the relationship is the big issue, in fact it’s the only issue for Louise. And girls: if you’ve ever caught yourself looking wistfully at your attractive, witty, intelligent girlfriend and wished she was a he, then this is the show for
Adapted from her own novel, this is writer Stephanie Calman’s first television series. She denies it is just an attempt to find a British clone of US sitcoms like Friends, which are already fixtures in the Friday night Channel 4 schedule, but she says if you must make a transatlantic
adult comedies that centre on adult relationships, Dressing for Breakfast has tons of smart-arse one-liners, canned laughter and frantic pace.
Although there’s nothing outstandingly original in this show which hasn’t already been covered in The liver Birds, it’s a sign of television
, becoming more realistic about portraying women behaving badly that blow job gags (oops!) are now so unremarkable. Dressing for Breakfast has that all important instant recognition factor and will make perfect Friday night viewing on a girls’
night in. Time to hit the pub, boys. (Gill
affair and is on the hunt for Mr Right. comparison, think Roseanne’s sister Roth) She’ll probably end up settling for Mr Jackie in her own spin-off series. Dressing for Breakfast starts on Fri 24 Reasonably 0K, though. Dressing for Breakfast: the 905 Liver Birds However, like most of the imported Nay at 9pm on Channel 4,
A the-list l‘ lump roos'n _.