t that “low listen here, my dear,” which

Doctorin’ the


Steven Spielberg may be hanging on I to the movie rights (and rumours had him considering the entirely i unteasible David Hasselhot tor the I title role), but there seems to be no } obstacle to the BBC reviving Dr Who ,

tor radio. The 30th anniversary at the Deeb’s phenomenally successtul sci-ti series was celebrated in 1993 by a six-part Radio 5 story with Jon Pertwee back as the Doctor, and the detinitlve Doc reprises the role yet again in a new series, The Ghosts Of N-Space, written by Barry letts, who was Dr Who’s producer in its 70s heyday.

‘lt’s quite purposely got a retro-703 teel to it,’ says producer Phil Clarke, who has brought both series to the airwaves. ’We’ve got all the crew back - lllcholas Courtney as The Brigadier, Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith - and one at the reasons I wanted g

Barry letts to do it is that no one would write in that style nowadays; all

all sounds very condescending now but was just right tor the 703.

‘You get a lot ot sci-ti on Radio 1 now,’ he continues, ‘Iike Judge Dredd, very up-to-the-minute. But this takes an old-tashioned approach, with more emphasis on plot, and there’s a lot more dialogue than there would be in a modern sci-ti thing. But there are plenty ot sound ettects and action too.’

There’s something very right and

. dignitied about Doctor Who living out

its old age on the radio (Pertwee,

' remember, has a long history ot radio

comedy behind him), where the Time Lord’s old-tashloned, patrician chivalry would be right at home, and where budgetary constrictions matter less than on the small or big screen. Dr Who remains, as Phil Clarke puts it,

=. ‘that kind ot sci-ti we do so well in

this country, where the background’s wobbling . . . though we don’t have any sound ettects ot wobbling cardboard!’ (Alastair Mabbott)

Dr Who starts on Sat 20 Jan at 7.03pm on BBC Radio 2.


I ‘Who Does He Think lle ls?’ (Radio Scotland) Thurs ll Jan. 6.40pm. Max Clifford. the man behind ‘Freddie Star ate 3 my hamster' and other great tabloid headlines of our time, is the subject of an enquiry into whetherjoumalists of his ilk are giving the PR industry a bad name. Fronted by Quentin Bell. chairman of the industry's regulator body.

I Taking Drugs Seriously (Radio 5 Live) Sun l4 Jan. 8.05pm. New four-part series taking a refreshingly non-alarmist approach to the growth of the UK drugs culture. Cannabis and decriminalisation is 3 the subject of the first despatch. with Marianne Henry asking whether too much time and energy is wasted in pursuit of those who use a relatively harmless substance.

I In Concert: Paul Weller (Radio 1) Mon IS Jan. 9pm. The man to blame for the new wave of dodgy mod haircuts sweeping Britpop. proves he's still every bit the soul man with Stanley Rural and the rest at last year‘s Phoenix Festival.

I Mum, I’ve Got Something to Tell You ll (Radio 4) Mon 15 Jan. 9pm. Real-life. edge-of-your seat drama as three gay women recall the heartstopping moment they told mum and dad they had no intention of ever bringing a boyfriend home for tea. Follow-up to last year‘s i equally gripping Mum I've Got Something to Tell You where three gay men shared their scary coming out stories with the world. I Journeys Into Space: Space Fictions 5 (Radio 4) Tue 16 Jan. 2.02pm.

will not be disappointed. I Sunday Play: tor colored girls who have considered suicide/when the

; rainbow IS enut (Radio 3) Sun 21 Jan.

9.45pm. Seriously empowering play that

; scored a cultural triumph for black women when it premiered in 1975. Backed tip by a kicking soundtrack that includes Nat

King Cole. Nina Simone and Salt 'n'

Pepa. and an affecting poetic. lyrical way

with words. Ntozake Shange takes the

', stereotyping black female image of long

i suffering mamas. wise-cracking Aunt

Jemimas and fiery sexpot singers, and trades it in for fine upstanding tales of modern black women.

I ‘Blg Fella’: The Paul Robeson Story

(Radio 2) Tue 23 Jan, 9.03pm. A

There are four ages of woman. according to Cybill Shepherd in the latest imported sitcom from America, Cybill (Fridays. Channel 4). ln chronological. nay biological order these are: virgin. cheerleader (‘the

foolin' around age‘). mother and crone.

As we meet Cybill, ajobbing actress doing bit-parts in TV movies with two daughters from two marriages. she‘s a mother contemplating grandmotherhood ~ a pre-crone. as she puts it. Much of the above applies to the real-life Cybill Shepherd. who has never really improved her star rating since partnering Bruce Willis in

auditioning for hooker-with-a-heart-of- gold parts as her fictional alter-ego does. Shepherd is clearly playing on home turf based on her experience as a cut-price Kathleen Tunrer.

best ironies in the first episode of the new series was when Roseanne ; jokingly suggests that Oprah Winfrey

might turn up for her baby shower. In real life she probabl y would.

While Roseanne fights a losing battle against cronedom. Patricia Routledge. she of Keeping Up Appelll‘tllllft’S‘, strikes a positive blow for old crones everywhere. In Hetty Wainthropp Investigates (Wednesdays. BBC I) she

; plays a plucky sub-postmistress who

becomes a private eye on her 60th

! birthday. Pulling her fluffy beret firme

2 onto her head. she sets about : investigating the death ofa bag lady lllrmnlighting. Although not reduced to

whose pension book is being fraudulently cashed. Hetty's sidekick

' Geoffrey is a sixteen-year-old scamp i she caught nicking the charity box from

This being Hollywood. her best friend

lounges around her Beverly Hills borne in leisure suit. hooked up to a permanent Martini drip—feed. until it’s time to do lunch. Much of the bitchy banter between these two is a sort of Californian Absolutely Fabulous, while Cybill's borne life is more like Ellen with a convertible parked in the drive. The comedy conveyor belt which delivers up the jokes is somewhat clunky. but when they arrive they're not bad.

What Cybill lacks is the flow which allows the viewer to surf from gag to gag. The new series of Roseanne (Fridays. Channel 4) which follows (‘ybill is a long way from its peak. but its return demonstrates the importance in sitcom of strong, believeable characters. While Cybill contemplates becoming a fortysomething grandmother. Roseanne is poised to produce her fourth. unplanned child.

As if to emphasise how much lipo- suction has flowed under the bridge. the opening credits feature computer morphing which shows the characters ageing since the series first started.

the post office. who is enlisted to provide young shoulders to support a wise. old tread.

This twee but surprisingly entertaining series is unashamedly nostalgic for a time when a clip round the lug and a stern talking to were enough to bring the youth of yesterday smartly to heel. Hetty is a kind of Everygran whose solution to even the most intractible problem is to dispense common sense and sweet tea in equal measure. This is Chandler & Co after taking a Saga holiday. With the surprise success of Caroline Hook's Mrs Merton character prompting a new series, 1996 looks like becoming the year that old ladies reclaim television.

Also entertaining. but for all the wrong reasons. is new medical drama

9 Call fled (Mondays, ITV) which turns

Action Man into a flying doctor. In a series set at an airborne ambulance service centre on the south coast. the producers obviously spent all the budget on a shiny. red helicopter. leaving nothing left fora scriptwriter. As is now obligatory with such drama serials. there is tons of nonsensical medical jargon. including a new one on

me: ‘coned out'. I think it means the

John Goodman as Dan has changed little apart from a new beard which just emphasises his Grizzly Adams demeanour. while Darlene is now in her third incarnation. But it's Roseanne Barr who has changed the most. Her continuing quest for cheekbone definition is not a good advertisement for facial remodelling. While Cybill Shepherd is playing a character reasonably close to herself. Roseanne Barr continues to portray the Everywoman of blue collar America she started out as. The difference is that now the supermarket magazines are filled with stories of multi-million dollar divorce settlements. ()ne of the

celebration of the life and times of Paul 01' Man River' Robeson ~ controversial black singer and actor and victim of the notorious McCarthy witchhunts of 50s America.

I Word ot Mouth (Radio 4) Tue -3 Jan. 12.25pm. New series of the linguistic analysis show. with frontman Russell Davies twisting his tongue round the hipper-than-thou language of DJs, Shakespearean language and that old British favourite. the double errtendre. I Sons ot Feminists (Radio 4) Thurs 25 Jan. 7.20pm. Feminist women who bear sons describe their desires to bring up their offspring as new men. while their

= now grown-up sons relate the pros and

i cons of a thoroughly PC upbringing. (Ellie Carr)

Astrophysicist and novelist Dr John Gribbin does his bit for Radio 4's Journeys Into Space season with a look at why novelists love the idea of extra- terrestrial life. Sharing his stellar perch are Iain M. Banks. Doris Lessing and Brian Aldiss. who've all scribed a good few space tales in their time.

I Dr Who: The Ghosts at I Space (Radio 2) Sat 20 Jan. 7.03pm. The team who caused a generation ofchildren to quiver behind the couch rejoins forces for the return landing of the original 70s sci-ft classic. Written by Barry Letts. John Pcnwee’s original producer, the new six- part series stars Pertwee as the Dr. 1 Elizabeth Sladen as his assistant and Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier ensuring first-time round Dr Who fans

patient is in a bad way. but ifthere are any doctors out there, please advise. When they’re not forcing tubes down the throats of unconscious patients. the male medicos who have real hair and gripping hands are forcing , themselves on female crew members, : who are given to lounging around the base in Lycra bra tops. ()nce scrambled. the team don unisex orange jumpsuits but that doesn‘t seem to dampen down the collective libido much. Expect plenty of frenzied couplings during this serial. possibly in mid-air, but please. nojokes about getting your chopper out. (Eddie Gibb)

78 The List 12-25 Jan 1996