The word ‘chancer’ springs to mind. No sooner had Tony Parsons sold the BBC the idea for a three-part series about the British class system, than he ups sticks to Channel 4 to do a similar routine on the subject of gender. And for good measure he takes with him the format for 8802’s late Review, the roundtable arts discussion hosted by fellow hack Mark Lawson on which Parsons has
been a regular guest. His role was to inject a bit of barrow-boy vulgarity to counteract highbrows like Irish poet Tom Paulin.
For loud Mouth, which the publicist promises will be ‘spikey’, Parsons leaves the pundit’s chair to become the anchor presenter, introducing guests who will no doubt be drawn from the usual media slags rounded up one Friday in the Groucho Club. Time Out columnist and New Lass Miranda Sawyer has already been mentioned as a likely contender.
Since his days as an N.M.E. writer, ? Parsons’ stock-in-trade has been defending indefensible positions with wit and panache, styling himself as a debunker of political correctness with ban mots worthy of Winston Churchill. ‘Being drunk is like having a moustache,’ he deadpans in Equal But Different. ‘It looks good on a man and terrible on a woman.’ Good line, except a moustache never looks good l on a man either though perhaps he’s ‘ been writing for the Daily Telegraph too long to notice.
Meanwhile in Class, Parsons goes in ; search of the traditional working 5 class, and discovers they have all become middle-class wannabes. Does 1 this sound familiar? (Eddie Gibb)
Without Walls: Equal But Different is
on 5 Mar on Channel 4; Class starts on . Thurs 7 Mar an 8802, and loud Mouth ‘ begins mid-Mar on Channel 4.
I Documentary: Bruce Springsteen
l Radio I t Sun 35 lieb. 7pm. .-\ rare interview with the legendary gravel- voiced. bit-tif-rough-in-a—clieck-shirt l'S rocker as he follows tip the huge success of his latest album. The (Hunt in 'linn .llltlll with his first ever solo tour of the L'ls'.
I Across The White Line (Radio 5 Live) Mott 26 lieb. 7.35pm. The strtrggle of black footballers and their efforts to establish a presence on the field is the subject of this four-part documentary from Trevor McDonald. This week McDonald looks at one-lime \\'est Brotiiwiclt Albion irianager Ron Atkinson. who helped turn the tide m the 7lls when he signed three black players. Laurie Cunningham. Brendan Batson and Cyril Regis and kissed goodbye to a decade that had begun \\l[l‘. just a single black player tn the British game.
I Aliens Burnt My Trousers (Radio Scotland) \Ved 38 Feb, noon. The legendary L’H) sightings of Bounybridge come under the cynical telescope of KL‘ll McDonald. who asks why the good folks of this small Stirlingslure town are so keen to believe the aliens have landed
and if they have landed why didn't they choose somewhere much more exciting instead.
I 20/20: A View Of The Century (Radio ~Il Wed 28 Jan. 7.20pm. Broadcaster and historian .lohn ’l'nsa ponders the growth of strange religions sects and cults of the Waco kind. lll the second season of his first-iate chronicle of the 30m century.
I True Encounters (Radio 4» Wed 2s t-‘etw. SRSDm. 'l‘rne stories from the casebook of American psychiatrist l)r Irvin Yalom are the subject of this new drama series. On Yalom‘s couch this week: a woman coming to terms w ith the loss of her daughter. an acadeiritc too terrified to open a letter and a 70-year-old haying a love affair with a 30-year-old rapist. Sliariielessly voyeuristic. btit boutid to be addictive.
I The Essential Mix: Howie B (Radio I i Sat 2 Mar. midnight. 'l‘he late-night dance music slot welcomes multi-faceted l)J/prodticer Howie B into the mix. After cutting his production teeth on Soul II Soul's blistering debut album ('lii/i (fun/t .y' Iii/Illllt’ ()Itt'. lllL’ stlpel'dttlilplitltlc Mr B went on to work with Bristol trip- hop collective Massive Attack. jungle star (ioldlc. and less predictably [52. Leonard
Cohen. Bjork. Brian lino and even opera
star Luciano Pavarotti.
I The Fifties: A Raisin In The Sun (Radio .‘ii Sun .i Mar. 7.30pm. Groundbreaking ﬁlls drama from the late Lorraine llansberry v the woman who inspired .\'iiia Simone's classic blues number "l‘o
- Be Young (lifted and Black' that is
w idely credited with having set the wheels ofblack .-\iiiericaii theatre in motion. Set lll an overcrowded family flat in (‘liicago‘s iiiiderpriyileged South Side. the play has as much to say about the African- .'\|llL'llc';lll situation today as when ll opened on Broadway in IUS‘). Part of
Radio ~I's Itil‘llc‘s Season.
I Misleading Ladies (Radio -1) Tue 5
Mar. U (Rpm. Denis ()uilley takes a long liar'd look .it men iii frocks in this one-off
piogi'aimne looking at the Brits longstanding love of theatrical cross- dressing. l‘rom the position of one who knows - ()uilley's own acting lrrstory includes a stint in wig. frock and heels in I’m (ll(’\ ()n l’imn/e -- the actor assesses 'great dames‘ of our time from Miss Shuttlewick and Danny La Rue to Hinge and Bracket and Dame lidna.
I Maugham’s Eye View (Radio 4) Wed (T Mar. Illipzn. New series featuring six
classic short stories from the linglish
, author Somerset Matrgharn. and most
importantly with a cast that includes the ‘ great movie actor Sir Dirk Bogarde.
f I Cinema 100: Laurel And Hardy (Radio
4) Thurs 7 Mar. 2.02pm. Robbie Coltrane tosses his lauded ('meker role of police psychiatrist Fit]. to one side to play the lardier half of the silent screen duo iii .lohn McGrath's play charting the twin
; career paths of Messrs Laurel and Hardy.
‘They say a person only dies once. but a crime scene can be murdered a thousand times.‘ says pathologist Sam Ryan. whose chilly manner can only come from spending long hours in a morgue. When Ryan (Amanda Burton) isn't lecturing students among the classical spires of at Cambridge college. she helps the local police with their inquiries.
Lurking beneath the paper fallout suits and plastic bootees worn by investigators to protect forensic evidence. Silent Witness (BBC 1 . Wednesdays) is a straightforward detective serial. lt'sjust that the point of view has shifted from the cops themselves to what has traditionally been a member of the supporting cast. The need to find a fresh angle on the trusty police procedural has already taken Scottiin 'l‘elevision down a similar dark alley with John Hannah as a forensic pathologist in .llr'Crt/lunt which was piloted just after Christmas.
In fact. Silent ll'i'tness is an ldentikit television drama. a composite assembled from many of its predecessors on the beat. An academic who is brought iii by baffled plod also forms the basis for Cracker. Robbie Coltrane is a criminal psychologist who provides the brains behind tricky investigations. while the police generally do the strong arm sttrff like breaking down doors and drifting tip suspects.
The university town setting has Ins/rector .llnrre's prints all over it. Making the lead character a woman harks back to jtrst about everything Lynda La l’lante has written. most notably l’l'llllt’ Stir/reel with Helen Mirren battling prejudice against women with looks (lllt/ brains. Like Mirren‘s l)Cl 'l‘ennison character. Ryan is shaping up to be a woman who can sniff otit a sexist copper at a hundred paces. The presence of a chip on the shoulder will no doubt be confirmed by the radiologist's report.
Making a person who cuts tip dead bodies for a living your central character has its problems. For a start. post mortems only identify the cause of death. Assuming foul play is suspected — which it almost always is -- it's up to the police to work out if the butler did it. and whether there's enough evidence to secure a conviction. When the case comes to court. the pathologist is just another witness. albeit an expert one.
In the first episode of this two-parter which kicked off the series. the police were investigating the death of a young girl with a history of parental abuse. Ryan had a hunch btit no conclusive forensic evidence to suggest murder so is forced to deliberately fottl up the
inquest to ensure the case is reopened by the police. .\'ot a tactic that can be repeated if she wants to stay in a job. and if this serial is to be recommissioried she‘ll need to.
The feature-length episode of .II('( 'it/lmn had the good doctor sleeping with toiiiorrow‘s cadaver (she died of multiple skull fractures. not ot'gasttisl which suggested a character who simply shows up at the scene of a crime and matters into a tape recorder won't carry a drama. Silent ll'itness is not without promise. btit the danger is the storylines stray ever further from the work of a pathologist just to keep its central character iii the middle of the action.
A sketch about three lai'dy detectives. modelled on 'l‘osh from The lit/l. was among the highlights of The Fast Show (BBCZ. l’ridays) which started a second run last week. It's written by long-time Harry [infield collaborators l’aul Whiteliouse and Charlie lligsoti. and like Enlield this pair are masters of the comic character. The show’s name is taken from its determination to move swiftly frorii sketch to sketch. If you‘re not laughing at one. another will be along in a minute. Like Monty Python. each item lasts only as long as the gag requires. whether it be fifteen seconds or three minutes. This is in marked contrast to French and Saunders whose insistence on ﬂogging a joke to death could warrant a referral to Amnesty International.
Chris livans is another one who should be cut down to si/e. for his own sake as well as ours. lle's becoming more like Noel lidmonds every day. and the acrylic sweaters can‘t be far off. livans's new show T.F.I. Friday (Fridays. Channel —I) sounds like a chain of themed restaurants. btit is iii fact an 'auarchie' (that's televisioncse for unscripted) pop show featuring bands who are perhaps a little too alternative to make it onto his Radio I breakfast show.
Live bands early on a Friday evening is a fine idea. btit the programme is obviously btiilt around livans not the music. It's really not that different from .‘y’nel's Home l’urtv with Channel -l styling and cooler' guests. Like lidnionds. livans is a shrewd businessman who has set tip his own company. (linger Productions. which is turning his trademark specs and goofy grin itito a hugely lucrative franchise. His new marketing strategy is cross- proiiiotion. with most of last week's edition of 'Iil-fl. l'llr/(Il' spent sharrielessly hyping the Brit Awards. which were televised the following 'l‘uesday. Now who do think was presenting that show'.’ (Eddie (iibb)
84 The List 23 Feb-7 Mar l‘)‘)(i