Suburban hell

lan Armstrong is a man with big problems. As headteacher ot a Welsh iunior school, he struggles to balance the needs ol his pupils and stall in light at a shrinking budget and decreasing morale. The pressure takes its toll and erupts into violence against his wile Kate, who has to choose between grimacing her way through the pain or seeking a way out which which will inevitably lead to the lamily splitting apart.

Written by hot writer Lucy Gannon, whose big ratings credits include Peak Practice and Soldier, Soldier, tollowed by Victorian medical drama Bramwell which managed to sneak a suflragette message onto ITV. Ilow with Trip Trap, Gannon turns to wile beating in a modern table of a tamin ruptured beyond repair. ‘It’s a love story that has gone horribly wrong because ol torces that neither of the two protagonists have any control over or really understand,’ she says. ‘It looks at the consequences ol violence within a relationship, rather than the easier option at psychologically explaining things away.’

For the two leads, Kevin Whately and Stella Gonet, these roles are as tar lrom the public perception of them as it may be possible to get. Whately’s image as the personable bobbie

Trip Trap: tacade of suburban respectability

(Morse) or brickie (Au! Wiedersehen, Pet) has certainly taken a kicking here while Gonet’s lashion house entrepreneur Beatrice, in House Of Eliot, will be forgotten by viewers who witness her powertul pertormance as the ravaged Kate. .

llow that domestic violence has at last been dragged from behind closed doors with even Coronation Street having a go, only one ending could ever have reached the screen. The road to get there, however, is no less agonising as Ian blames everyone but himselt tor his physical and psychological brutality, while Kate’s visions at a loveless childhood return to plague her everyday existence and thwart any shard ol ambition she may retain. Expect a doomladen warning prior to broadcast. (Brian Donaldson) Trip Trap is a Screen One film on Sat 9 Mar on 8801.


I Jesus Christ Superstar (Radio 2 ) Sat 9 Mar. 7.33pm. Astonishineg cast production of Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s biblically based rock opera. featuring Roger Daltry as Jtrdas. Julian Clary as Herod. Frances Ruffelle as Mary Magdalene and. most bizarre of all. ex Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley as Jesus. At least Tone'll be used to all the flowing robes. but if there was any justice it'd be Jaeko and Jarvis as the other two Js.

I Generating The Beats (Radio 3) Sun 1() Mar. 5.45pm. As part of Radio 3‘s celebration of the 50s. writer lain Sinclair looks at the hippest literary movement of the last 50 years. In his usual idiosyncratic fashion. Sinclair looks beyond the myth of free love. free jazz and black polo necks to ask whether ‘The Beats' was really a manufactured movement. and whether rebellion is still possible now that the survivors are all accepted figures in the literary establishment and have BBC documentaries made about them. lncludes a rare interview with the alarmingly healthy Burroughs. as well as Ginsberg. Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I The Monday Play: Paint Her Well (Radio 4) Mon 11 Mar. 7.45pm. Scots writer lain McClure‘s first play is set in a legendary kingdom. where two identical portraits aid one man‘s revenge on the King who poisoned his wife. David Tennant stars.

I In Concert (Radio 1)Oasis. Mon 11 Mar. 9pm. The Stone Roses. Mon 18 Mar. 9pm. The two most influential Mane bands of the decade presented separately in top sorted live situation. The brothers Gallagher were taped at Glastonbury. while the Roses rock out in Leeds.

I The New Sexual llature (Radio 4) Tue 12 Mar, 8.30pm. Human monogamy is out of the window. according to some biologists who really ought to get out more if they‘ve only just noticed. This four-part series explores the depths of

human sexual behaviour. with this first edition examining biologists‘ claims that worueu are designed to be promiscuous. will seek out affairs during ovulation. and will retain more of their lover's sperm than their husbands. Likewise. philandering males will give more sperm in a fling than to their permanent partners. The whole thing is delicately termed ‘Sperm Wars'.

I late llight Opening: Fab TV (Radio 4) Wed 13 Mar. llprn. Having now witnessed urnpteerr r'e-runs ofcult (>()s telly. the post-modem radio pastiches were never likely to be far behind. Morwenna Banks. Chris lingland and Robert Harley star as "fire l’r'eventers'. with ‘The Return of The Preventers'. ‘1 Am Not A Number" and ‘Curtis and Ballard Deceased' to follow. Desmond Llewelyn. aka '0‘ from James Bond. and ‘Skippy"s lid l)ever'eaux also feature in what is already set to transfer to 'l‘\' proper.

I Private Passions: John Peel (Radio 3) Sat 16 Mar. noon. Recent subject of This Is Your Life talks through his personal musical favourites. ranging from Handel and Vivaldi to Neil Young and no doubt diverting down far more obscure highways en route.

I The Forgotten Disaster (Radio 5 Live) Mon 18 Mar. 7.35pm. Documentary marking the 50th anniversary of the tragedy at Burnden Park (home of Bolton Wanderers football club) in which 33 people died after 85,000 people were crammed in to watch a sixth round FA Cup match. The police report blamed the crowd. so not much change there then. This mixture of archive material and personal recollection includes words from Sir Stanley Matthews.

I Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (Radio 3) Thurs 21 Mar. 7.30pm. UK broadcast premiere of Philip Glass's 'post-minimalist' concerto For Saxophone Quartet played by the Rascher Saxophone Quartet. for whom it was first written. (Neil Cooper)

Maybe it's a cheap shot poking fun at a

discomfited Government in the wake of

the Scott report. but it's just so rrruch

fir/r. A week before Sir Richard Scott

published his 18()()-page doorstep on ministers‘ ‘llexibillty' to arms sales in the Middle East. Channel 4 hired a bunch ofcomedians including Rory Bremner to examine the way the Government had apparently ignored its own guidelines on selling military hardware to Iraq.

The following day. BBCZ transmitted Hal/The Picture. :1 more straightforward dr'amatisation of scenes from the inquiry itself using verbatim transcripts of the proceedings which sought to expose the dotrble-speak employed by Government ministers and senior civil servants to shroud the issue in an impenetrable fog of semantics. Cameras were prevented from entering the inquiry room. so the dramatising ofthis Alice in Wonderlandish event provided a useful glimpse ofthe way politicians had dissernbled to obscure the truth. Ahead of the report‘s publication. Channel 4‘s jocular approach to such an important inquiry into Whitehall ran the risk of trivialising an important issue.

Now. despite opposition minister Robin Cook’s best efforts to claim a ministerial scalp in the Commons. the Government looks as if it has wriggled off the hook. Satire may now be a more effective weapon for showing up the absurdity of claims that it was totally vindicated by Sir Richard. as ministers argue that incompetence isn't necessarily a resigning matter. Enter a rumpled Cockney comedian. host of The Mark Thomas Comedy Product (Channel 4. Fridays). who made it his business to laugh at the basic absurdity of this position.

Hiring a light tank for the day. he decked out the vehicle as an ice cream van and sought advice from Whitehall on how to ship it to his mate in Baghdad. ‘l)o you think the gtrn might be a problem." he deadpanned to a bemused official at Customs and Excise. Doorstepping William Waldegrave. one of the ministers who miraculously managed to avoid becoming the fall guy, Thomas was warned that the ‘stunt‘ was bordering on libel. A stunt it may have been. but unlike both Scott and the lraqi supergun itself. Thomas hit his target.

Mark Thomas has been a jobbing stand-up on the London comedy circuit for many years; now through Buggins' turn be has got his own Friday night show on Channel 4 which has hoovered up just about every stand-up who ever appeared at the Comedy Store. In search of a fresh angle. Thomas has blatantly nicked the roving reporter format from Michael Moore's excellent TV Nation. which is based on the

premise that the way ofticialdom deals

with blunt questioning is often more

enlightening than the actual answers they give. But Ire has ttsed the idea to add a dash of much-needed subversion to the cosy irony that has neutered many so-called ‘alternative’ comedians when they transfer to television.

Another dose of subversion comes with the welcome return of Band OI Gold (Scottish. Sundays) which highlights an increasingly apparent truth about [TV drama ~ it's either very. very good or very. very bad. When it's bad. the reason is usually down to the cynical application of an overworked formula ('I'lrr'rfl'lirkers) or the reliance on a popular star (David Jason in A 'I'orrr'lr o/l’ros'l). Conversely when lTV drama is good. it‘s becatrsc it chooses to break otrt of the formula. And so it is with limit! (2/‘(io/rl. a gritty drama about a group of ageing hookers with a strong feminist sub-text. which was easily one of the best series of last year.

Whereas the first series trsed the familiar storyline of the hunt fora serial killer to disguise its radical heart. the second run has ptrt the much more interesting relationship between the women at its centre. Writer Kay Mellor's decision to have them leave prostitution and form a contract cleaning collective was a masterstroke which allows a deeper exploration of the nature of work. social status and self-image which was at the heart of the first series. The abusive term ‘scrubber’ to describe a promiscuous woman shows how similarly the two professions are treated. Carol. the highly strung ex—hookcr played by Cathy Tyson. came close to summing tip the complexity of the issue: ‘When I‘ve got my hand down t‘bog, scrubbing away at a piece of shit. 1 think to myself 1 could do a wank and earn double the money in half the time.‘ One can't help btrt feel that it‘s men in general she regards as the piece (if shit.

I came late and sceptical to The Sculptress (BBCl ). not being a fan of Bin/s (UL-l l’t'uI/rei'. the Essex girl sitcom which made Pauline Quirke a star big enough to flog Surf. 1n the fotu=part drama shown over two weekends. ()uirke played a disturbed woman convicted of the murder of her mother and sister. Inside she finds solace in excessive eating and carving little figures out of anything she can find. ()n the outside. an ambitious writer tried to uncover new evidence which would prove her innocence. In the end 1 was sorry to have missed the opening episode because The .S'r‘ulprress shaped tip to be an absorbing whodtrnit. Quirke. whose comedy persona lacks any subtlety. was a dark and brooding presence which lent weight to the drama. even if the absurd ‘fat suit' she was required to wear made her look like a sumo wrestler in sweat pants. (Eddie Gibb)