Poppy daze

Talk about dedication. For over 30 years, Adrian Gowell and cameraman Chris Manges, the Oscar-winning cinematographer on The Killing Fields, have been visiting the corner of south- east Asia known as the Golden Triangle, where much oi the world’s supply oi heroin originates. The result is a iascinating, sprawling and at times incoherent film about the global influence oi an innocent-looking white poppy grown in remote parts oi Burma and Thailand.

The three-part documentary sets out in detail how local governments, semi- Iegitimate militias and the mighty US State lleparbnent have tried to stem the ilood ot opium and its highly addictive derivative to the west. In the 60s, misguided llS involvement served only to drive control oi the supply iurther into the hands oi armed and dangerous drug barons, who iorm a powerful dynasty in Burma known as the ‘kings oi opium’.

Meanwhile attempts to smoke out the petty dealers at the ‘retail’ end oi the drug chain, served only to create ever more entrenched addictions as users moved from smoking opium to injecting heroin. Each successive crackdown raised the stakes for dealers who were risking imprisonment, driving the price up and making intravenous use the best way

The lleroln Wars: iollowlng the poppy trail

to secure a big hit from a small quantity oi the drug. in the second episode ‘Smack Gity’, Gowell and Menges lilmed a group oi users in the 70s in llong Kong, which they describe as the most ‘addicted city in the world’, and then again last year. The eiiect oi years oi addiction is etched on their laces, which have been reduced to skin and bone.

In the final episode, the iilmmakers return to their starting point in the Shan state oi Burma, where the opium trade is inextricably linked with the country’s brutal military regime. In the past 30 years attempts by western governments to police the drug trade are demonstrated to have been laughably ineiiectual. ‘We are dealing with seizure rates in the decimal point range,’ concedes one US State Beparbnent oiiicial. (Eddie Gibb)

The Heroin Wars begins on Sat 6 July on Channel 4.


I I Was That Teenager (Radio 4) Fri 28 Jun. 10.02pm. Monarchist. jingoistic TV critic for The Sun. Garry Bushell parades his working class South London roots for I Was That Teenager but not before confessing to having been an angry young man who went on C ND marches and sold copies of Socialist Worker long before he was wooed and won by the capitalist press.

I The lovegroove Dance Party (Radio 1) Sat 29 Jun. 7pm. Danny ‘lovegroove‘ Rampling has a change of scenery for his weekly house party in the house show, as he broadcasts live from atnidst hordes of happy clubbers at the dance festival that almost never happened. Tribal Gathering. Following a last-minute failure to gain a licence for its Oxford dates the festival now takes place in Luton.

I Big In Japan (Radio 1) Sun 30 Jun. 7pm. Sharp~tongued. smooth-dressing. ex- Big Breakfast presenter and stand-up Mark Lamarr begins a three-part documentary asking if there's more to Japanese music than weird karaoke versions of classic rock 'n' roll numbers. Mooching round Tokyo, Lamarr drinks. shops. sings and hangs out with the Japanese music scene‘s most wanted including DJ Krush. the Screaming Poets and the Silent Poets (no relation presumably). One big advantage. Lamarr’s rockabilly hairdo will not be visible on the radio.

I SUI” (Radio 4) Mon l Jul. 7.45pm. Joe McGann of the clan McGann stars in the first of a season of five plays giving airtime to fresh writing talent. Diane Samuels's drama tells of a young Asian girl Ayesha whose first-hand encounter with racism and a pig's severed head draws her into a symbolic quest to find the rest of the pig and lay its dismembered body to rest.

I Goodness Gracious the (Radio 4) Fri 5 Jul, llpm. Britain‘s first all-Asian comedy

kicks off with a pilot that producer Anil Gupta made to give people a clear idea of what he means by ‘Asian comedy‘. in summary he says: ‘lt’s funny and it‘s made by Asians.‘ Seems fair enough really. The show is a co-production with BBC TV. I Burt Bacharach And The BBC Concert Orchestra (Radio 2) Sat 6 Jul. 7.30pm. If you‘re one of those with a wedge of cheesy listening platters lurking up the back of your record collection. this should be right up your street. Turn the lights down low. pour yourself a long. cool drink. slip into something nylon and steal yourselfa few magic moments as the BBC Concert Orchestra do classic Bacharach at the Royal Festival Hall. I The Essential MIX (Radio l) Sun 7 Jul. 2pm. The Mix fills its new. even later- night slot with the sounds of rocket turned fully-fledged dance DJ Johnny Vicious. Hailing from New York. Vicious has one deck in the dance mainstream - producing tracks for Jimmy Somerville. Deee-Lite. Drizabone and Thelma Houston and another in the underground. DJing and producing the mixes you‘ll hear tonight. I The Awkward Squad (Radio 4) Mon 8 J ul. 8.45pm. Political sketchvwriter and author of Great Parliamentarv Scandals. Matthew Pam's concentrates his gaze on those naughty MPs who refuse to toe the party line in this new four-part series on the political rebels who whips call ‘the awkward squad'. The best-known of late have been Major’s stubborn mules. the Euro-rebels. ‘Are they cynics or idealists?‘ Parris wants to know. ‘Calculating, reckless or pragmatic? Or just plain awkward?‘ I A Good Read (Radio 4) Wed 10 Jul. l0.02am. Tough TV interviewer. presenter of Channel 4‘s Devil's Advocate and ex- Black Panther Darcus Howe joins Gillian Slovo. novelist and daughter of ANC activists Joe Slovo and Ruth First for what promises to be a stimulating edition of the book choice show. (Ellie Carr)


Television’s history is comparatively short around 50 years in round terms but in that time the medium has travelled some distance. both metaphorically and literally. Broadcasts of early television programmes say. the Queen‘s coronation which did for the sale of television sets what Mike Tyson has done for cable subscriptions have apparently covered around 360 billion miles since they were first transmitted. and are still radiating out through space.

I Love Lucy can‘t be far behind. while landmark serials like Rants and Monty Python Is Flying Circus have probably gone around half that distance by now. Highlights of the Scotland-England match are still bouncing around in the backyard of our own solar system. with the little green men on Mars - Celtic fans to a tnan. naturally now watching replays of that penalty.

In space. everything is rerun simultaneously which is perhaps why no one can hear you scream for the din. According to Future Fantastic (Fridays, BBCI ). the first that intelligent lifeforms in far off galaxies will know of our existence may be a jumble of royal pageants and commercial breaks sponsored by soap powder manufacturers. If they are visiting our planet on a regular basis. it‘s probably just an attempt to find earth‘s remote controller that slipped down the back of the settee.

Future Fantastic. a BBC co- production with an American educational channel (if that‘s not an oxymoron), asks real scientists to comment on the kind of storylines that keep The X -l"iles agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder in spooky happenings week in, week out. Gillian Anderson. who plays Scully in the phenomenally successful series. has been hired to provide the voice over. emerging occasionally on screen in a flash of white light. Sci-fr never looked so svelte.

Made by the Tomorrows War/(l team. this popular science series is pretty light on fact and big on conspiracy theorists who reckon the US government and the Martian diplomatic corps have been exchanging Christmas cards for years. But when no lesser intellect that Arthur C. Clarke suggests that intelligent lifeforms have planted the answers to life. the universe and everything in inter-galactic safety deposit boxes dotted around space. it's perhaps at least worth a listen.

Hollywood mogul Aaron Spelling. creator of Fantasy Island and Starsky and Hutch, may not be exactly evidence of intelligent lifeforms on earth but he sure has earned the title of ‘king of prime time‘. His early cop show Burke 's Law is now over 30 years

Ghannel Hopping

old. or about 280 billion miles in our alternative yardstick of the televisual age. Since then he has prodtrccd more hit shows than most TV executives have had hot tubs

It will probany be many light years before our extra-terrestrial couch potatoes can pick up his latest offering Savannah (Fridays. Scottish). but should ETs tune in they are in for a classic piece of bubblegum television. Despite having three witches as central characters. Shakespeare this ain‘t. And yet as a costume drama set in the mid-

l990s viewed many years hence. it may say something about our pre-millennial state of mind. Power-dressing and closing deals before breakfast are out; chiselling thy neighbour and pre- nuptial agreements are in.

Savannah is about three southern belles who have known each other since girlhood. and looks like being just as bitch-driven as previous wealthy clan sagas like Dallas and Spelling‘s own earlier effort. Dynasty. But post- recession. the hair-dos have shrunk and the shoulder pads removed. The nails remain as sharp. however. In the first episode. Peyton manages to wreck her pal Reece‘s marriage to Travis before the newly weds have even departed on their honeymoon.

By the end of the opening bout of hostility. the groom had been lamped with a bottle of scotch. bundled into the back of a convertible and left for dead. When Travis‘s corpse disappears it can mean only one thing a modem day Easter resurrection with a Cadillac representing the cave. Or perhaps the answer is more straightforward he was simply abducted by aliens.

It‘s a shame they didn‘t take The IIdtBtI Truth (Wednesdays. Channel 4) while they were at it. While British television executives at the annual TV export market in LA were wetting their pants last month over Millennium. the new series from X -F ilcs creator Chris Carter about a serial killer hunter. the general consensus was that we in Britain were already getting the cream of American television. The clang of barrels being scrapped can now be heard. and The Naked Truth is evidence.

Nora is a newly divorced woman of independent mind if not means who blags a job as a photographer at a tabloid newspaper on the strength of visiting the same gynaecologist as

chesty guest star Anna Nicole Smith. The closest thing to a joke in this shrieking sitcom was a reference to a down-market magazine called ‘Celebrity Jugs‘. But for all I know this wasn't a joke and such a publication really exists like The X-Files, truth may be stranger than fiction. (Eddie Gibb)

"The List 28 Jun-ll Jul I996