That unholy whiff of conspiracy which permanently hangs over God’s own country seemed to have its roots forever lodged in that post-war era when the USA became a contradictory mix of paranoia and progress. The sinister extinguishing of the period’s figures of hope (the Kennedys, Martin Luther King) and their sworn enemies (union boss Jimmy lloffa, Mafia godfather Sam Biancana) can only lead to the conclusion that something rotten was planted in the States, leaving it in permanent decay.
Thirty-four years on from her death, Marilyn Monroe is a classic case in point. In this updated version of the acclaimed documentary Say Goodbye To The President, doubt is cast over the accepted facts of her departure, officially stated as the suicide of a lonely and depressed woman who was trapped between the demands and restrictions of celebrity.
Through the new testimony of law enforcers, coroners, ambulance drivers and her housekeeper, a picture begins to emerge of her physical and psychological treatment at the hands of the Mob, the President,.the Attorney General and those she considered as friends. Was she removed due to the threat she posed to national security through her sexual
Marilyn Monroe: new testimony
involvement with both John and Bobby Kennedy? Were the barbiturates forced into her body rather than consumed willingly?
The documentary fascinates and frustrates in equal measure. Marilyn’s filmic dialogue is used to punctuate the tale and an animated reconstruction of her final hours brings its own tension. Yet the story and the apparently fresh evidence seems all too familiar allied to a cast of the usual suspects.
The feeling exists that our fin de siécle psyche would be more ravaged if each new conspiracy theory were proved to be false. We now expect skullduggery and our trust to be destroyed. With each fresh denial of history we are left nodding in agreement. Revelation has been diluted into recognition. (Brian Donaldson)
I loose Ends (Radio 4) Sat 1 June. IOam. Tire creatn of the puppet world joins Ned Sherrin for the ﬁnal edition of the apparently irreverent chat show. Zig and lag. Kermit and Miss Piggy and Zippy and George will be some of the duos on hand while Ned pulls the strings. Sounds like either a great end of term wheeze or the product of a drug-crazed imagination. I Yesterday Once More (Radio 2) Sat 1 June. 5.03pm. John Walters investigates that most annoying of music trends. the tribute band. Listen in wonder as the Bootleg Beatles and Bjorn Again are joined by relative newcomers such as Utter Madness. T-Rextasy and. give me strength. Fake That. Are they unwitting victims of ajin dc star/v post-modern malaise or simply untalented '.’ I Beyond The Take-Away (Radio 5 ) Stir) 2 June. N).45am. As part of Radio 5 l.ive‘s Race Around The UK. this insert into Eddie Mair's programme traces how second and third generation Chinese immigrants are abandoning the traditional career route ofcatering to turn to vocations such as PR. poetry. art and law. I In Concert: The Prodigy/Chemical Brothers (Radio 1) Mon 3 June. 9pm. An hour to gladden the hearts of all dance fans as Radio I dips into their Sound City archives with performances from The Prodigy and Chemical Brothers during 1995‘s Bristol week. What with this being the wireless though. much of their respective appeal will inevitably be lost. I Soup (Radio 4) Thurs 6 June. 2.02pm. Michael Mears won The Scotsman Fringe First Award at last year's festival with this work which looks at a homeless Community living in a railway viaduct. The play's central character is based on an unemployed brickie who spent his days in the launderette for warmth and company. most of which was denied.
Hear the Chemical Brothers’ 1995 Sound City gig on Mon 3
I Hold The Front Page (Radio 5 ) Sun 9 June. 12.35pm. A new series of historical hysteria with Jimmy Mulville in the chair joined by regular captains Lee Hurst and Fred MacAuley. There‘s a link there somewhere. Tonight. Jilly Goolden tastes wine at the Last Supper and Beethoven speaks to the press after being nominated as best newcomer at the Brit Awards. Give it a chance.
I Bloody Students (Radio 4) Thurs 13 June. 7.20pm. Fifty years of undergraduate life in provincial towns are remembered in this three-part montage of life in halls of residence. shared ﬂats and the best place to get some kip at university. the lecture hall. Tonight's opening part harks back to those halcyon days when everyone wore purple and green scarves. played rugby at dawn and a grant actually meant something. And not forgetting the symbol which has linked students through the ages. the traffic cone in the kitchen. (Brian Donaldson)
it took seven incarnations and countless light years of intergalactic shuttling through time and space to pluck up the courage. but the Doctor ﬁnally made a pass at his assistant. All those years Romanas and Sarah Janes draped themselves over the controls of the Tardis in short skirts and knee-length boots. but he remained the perfect gentleman. Now it emerges the Time Lord has a romantic heart after all — well. two actually — and appropriately enough it was a cardiac surgeon who sent their rhythms all pitter-patter.
For purist fans of the show, on-screen kissing is likely to bejust one of many perceived failings of the new feature- length Doctor Who (Mon. BBCl). But after a seven-year absence from our screens. this classic British sci-ﬁ drama has been given a 90s makeover and is looking pretty trim. Targeted squarely at the American market. this pilot for a full-scale revival was set in the near future in San Francisco and shot Blade Runner-style. with oodles of neon and apocalyptic cityscapcs.
Gone were the chipboard sets and clipped Home Counties accents of the early years in favour of an unashamedly brash Hollywood feel: there was even a budget for half-decent special effects. It wasn‘t quite what one would have expected from Steven Spielberg. had his rumoured Doctor Who project ever been produced. but it was probably flashy enough to attract the Nintendo heads. This may provoke the wrath of the traditionalists. but the producers have wised up to the competition from zippy imports like The X-Fi/es.
And then there was the new Doctor, with Sylvester McCoy‘s face morphing into the rather prettier features of Paul McGann. It‘s a universal law that the earliest incarnation of D()(‘l()l‘ Who anyone remembers will come to be regarded as their favourite. probably because that was when you could actually be scared by galvanised wheelie-bins with plungers attached. Myself. l was sent scuttling behind the sofa by the late Jon Pertwee. who only last week set the controls on his Tardis for one ﬁnal journey. This new show was dedicated to Penwee‘s memory and McGann looks like a worthy successor. having managed to ﬁnd that balance of bofﬁn and buffoon that was lacking in the later Doctors.
While the Doctorjoumeyed to California for the start 0fthe new millennium. Cold lazarus (Suns. Channel 4; Mons. BBCl). the second of Dennis Potter's posthumously produced dramas. headed further into the future. Karaoke ﬁnished with television writer Daniel Feeld (Albert Finney) facing up to death from cancer. having tnade some sort of peace with the world. His dying words were ‘no biography'. but it turns out that he also
left instructions for his head to be cryogenically frozen so it could be reheated in a high-tech microwave. Three centuries later. they have nearly perfected the technology and Feeld‘s memories are being downloaded to provide future generations with the ultimate autobiography.
Potter‘s work is usually about memory, but the startlingly different setting from his past work gives Cold Lazarus the fresh feel of a writer pushing into new territory that was so lacking in Karaoke. And like Doctor Who. the special effects are surprisingly good for a British television production. In fact at a couple of points they looked rather similar. with the visualisation of Feeld‘s dying brain as it’s frozen to absolute zero resembling a departing Tardis.
Potter wasn't interested in writing sci- ﬁ. however. and used the whole time travel device as a way of examining how past and present interconnect. The scientists haven‘t ﬁgured out exactly how to wire up Feeld's synapses yet. but the life ﬂashing before him at the moment of death hints that there will be plenty of schoolboy pranks in his beloved childhood home of Forest of Dean. If Karaoke was a summation of Potter‘s life as a writer. it‘s a fair bet that Cold Ixrzaras will be about earlier formative experiences. Strangely. despite the sci-ﬁ trappings. it may well turn out to be far more affecting than the previous series.
Dennis Potter cropped up the following evening as one of Billy Connolly's chosen heroes, along with The Beatles. Jerry Lee Lewis and the Dalai Lama. who is perhaps responsible for turning him into the Big Yang. Surrendering Bank Holiday night to the whims of Connolly was a brave move. and it's hard to think of anyone else who could have joked. sung and name-
dropped their way through over three hours of telly with quite the same panache.
For An Evening In With Billy Connolly (Mon. BBC] ). the comedian was given the chance to pick memorable moments from television's history. which more or less coincides with his own. That‘s where Potter came in with a clip from the memorable Melvyn Bragg interview shortly before the writer‘s death. Connolly also chose David Attenborough's encounter with gorillas; the ﬁrst man in space. and JFK's assassination in Dallas. These clips would probably crop up on just about anyone‘s shortlist, demonstrating how much the television medium used to be about shared experience. That is exactly why Potter's dying wish was that his last works be shown on two channels in an attempt to unite the nation. it wasn‘t much to ask. (Eddie Gibb)
82 The List 31 May-l3 Jun I996