[ELEVI I n REVIEW
rmmnmnnmuunur Bathe stations
A couple ot years back the Foreign Office ottice allowed cameras to roam its corridors ot power, revealing that dining out was a key diplomatic skill. low the Ministry of Defence has provided a BBC crew with an access- aIl-areas pass to tilm Defence of the Iiealm, a documentary which seeks to understand the little boys who play war games with some very expensive toys.
‘We are blessed by our Armed Forces,’ blusters detence minister llicholas Soanres. ‘ll British industry was run by the armed services, we’d be bloody Japan.’ The Bunter-like Soames is a delence minister to the manor born; his tather was Secretary State tor War, while his grandtather was Winston Churchill, another tormer war secretary who actually got to
light Jerry on the beaches.
The tirst programme ‘Top Brass’ shows that the rules ot engagement are somewhat more complex these days, as ministers and senior soldiers debate the political complexities ot the Bosnian situation. In time- honoured tradition Soames dons an extra-large tlak jacket and visits the war zone. ‘This is the trontline of Europe and it looks like what Berlin must have looked in 1945,’ he says.
Meanwhile back home, detence secretary Malcolm Bitkind is planning a surprise attack on a more dangerous enemy — Opposition leader Tony Blair. With so much ot the nation’s public spending soaked up by the detence budget - some £22 billion - this series demonstrates how a great deal at the ministry’s energies are devoted to politiclting in an environment where bad press is the ticking time bomb no one wants to be lelt holding. Ultimately, they must believe, giving this kind ot access to television cameras must assist the propoganda war ettort. (Eddie Gibb)
Defence of the Realm begins on Thurs 8 Aug at 10pm on 8802.
Detence ot the Realm: Tory minister Nicholas Soames hob-nobs with the military top brass
RADIO HIGHLIGHTS 7‘
I llock Around The Box (Radio 2) Sat 27 July. 5.03pm. ()rrly on Radio 2 could Marty Wilde. Sir Heathcliff Richard. Bill Wyman and Sir Tim Rice get together and reminisce about the golden days of pop on telly. Kim's old man remembers the likes ofSix-l’ii'c Spec/(ll. [luv Meets Girl and Ready. Stem/v, (in. As yet there are no plans for a misty-eyed look-back at the halcyon days of Terry Christian's consummate professionalism on The ll’un/ and Mike Read's scary specs on Pop (2111:. I The Flesh Made Word (Radio 3) Strn 28 July. 8.35pm. Australian chronicler of the seedier side of the bush and part-time Kylie fondler. Nick Cave considers the relationship between religion and language. His fascination was cemented through continued reading of both Testaments and his love of the imaginative language held therein.
I Klox (Radio 4) Tue 30 July. 8.30pm. Yeah. this is really what we need. a magician on the wireless. John Forrest. aka Jon Klox. has a thing about time and whiles away the hours by making them disappear. His career began by playing Herbert Pocket in David Lean‘s Great Expectations and he‘s also dabbled in painting. Here he discusses his trade. ‘Acting is an illusion. magic of course is an illusion and now l paint. Perhaps I can‘t face up to life as it is.‘ I‘ll say. IMlning The Archive (Radio 3) Fri 2 Aug. 3pm. The Edinburgh Festival is 50 - ' years old. as if you didn‘t know already. Sir John Drurnmond mines the Beeb‘s archives. which is probably why the programme is so-called. The Big D directed the International Festival between I978 and I983 and having attended most of them he should have a fair idea what he's talking about. In this first of four programmes Klemperer conducts
Beethoven. Ge/a Arida performs Bartok and Beecham guides the Royal Philharmonic through l.udo's Svmp/rmrv NH 9,
I Talking Comedy (Radio 2) Sat 3 Atrg. l.()3pm. Brand spanking new series in which loads ofcomics talk about who makes them laugh with the aid ofclips of their faves. Julian Clary. Alan Davies and Stephen Tompkinson are among the mirth-makers contributing to this eight- parter. Today. Alexei Sayle chooses Albert Brooks. Arnold Brown. Spinal Tap and Robin Williams. ()tltlly. no mention anywhere of the Krankies.
I The Essential Mix - Fearless and Carter (Radio I ) Sun 4 Aug. 2am. Joining the Chemical Brothers as parts three and four of The Heavenly Social. Richard Fearless and John Carter have helped take this DJ team from pub basements to the festival circuit in less than two years. Fearless. also known as Death In Vegas (ooh. scary) likes to cram everything from bhangra to techno into his sets while Carter. yup he's got a wacky moniker. records ragga under the name of Monkey Mafia.
I Interval Feature - Pure Gravy (Radio 3) Sun 4 Aug. 8.05pm. Pure Gravy was the name Raymond Carver gave to the ten-year period when he was saved from alcohol and certain death by Tess Gallagher. Her narration covers the events of his last year once the cancer had reached the no-turning-back stage while Kerry Shale reads from his final work. the poetry MA New Put/r To The Waterfall.
I The Street (Radio 4) Wed 7 Aug. l0.02am. Tony Wilkinson drops in on the locals of Lochend Road in Easterhouse for tea. scones and to gauge opinion on Jacques Chirac's visit and the possible award of£l2 million from the lottery cookie jar to rebuild the town centre. (Brian Donaldson)
He may not have dined on sauted human livers washed down with a fme Chianti. but the Wolf— Russia's ruost wanted killer. Class of l990 — matched the charm and verbal dexterity of Anthony Hopkins's serial killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence ()1 The [mu/2s. Sergei Maduev was one sharp operator with chiselled Slavic cheekbones to match and a mouth a Mills & Boon writer could only have described as rrroistly sensuous.
So sensuous. in fact. that prosecutor Natasha Vorontsova fell head-over- heels for the man whose crimes she was assigned to investigate. Now serving a seven-year sentence in a
prison camp. she recounted emotionally
how Maduev ‘saw the woman in me‘. The Wolf meanwhile. whose arm bears an elaborate tattoo with the legend: ‘lf you have not known grief. love me.’ saw only a soft touch who could help him escape. Vorontsova smuggled a gun to Maduev after he promised not to fire it during his breakout: inevitably a guard stopped a bullet in the gut dtrring the botched attempt.
In a specially extended edition of True Stories (Tue. Channel 4). ‘The Crime Of The Wolf‘ attempted to understand the motivation of the Chechen-born murderer. gangster and armed robber. who was first ptrt out on the streets to peddle drugs at the age of five. This was a War And Peace of a film. with endless shots of the winds blowing across the frozen wastes of Chechnia. btrt after sitting through two-and-a-half hours we were none the wiser.
As is the fashion in documentary making these days. this film was big on impressions but very low on exposition: it was only halfway in. during one of the interminable interviews with people who insisted on repeating everything twice. that we learnt what Maduev's crimes actually were. Such explanation as there was came mainly from the words ofchief prosecutor Leonid Proschkin — the fallen Vorontsova's boss — which were voiced over in English.
His reliability as a narrator can best be summed up by the scene in which he expressed his faith in the Russian legal system by consulting a psychic to discover the Wolf‘s fate. Despite a standard issue cop moustache and borscht-gut. it was clear Proschkin fancied hirnselfas something of an existentialist investigator. stating gloomily: ‘We don‘t kill a mad dog because it‘s guilty. we do it out of compassion.‘
In its desperate attempt to be atmospheric. ‘The Crime Of The Wolf ' frequently parodied the kind of interminable Russian ﬁlms where nothing much happens but everyone sits around drinking vodka and discussing the day‘s events at length
anyway. (‘trtaways to apparently unrelated scenes of a colourful w eddirrg party dancing silently through the streets of Maduev 's home town gave the documentary an almost Pythoncsquc touch. With such a remarkable story for raw rriatcrial. there is really no c\cusc for making such a boring programme. unless of course it was a clever cinematic device to illustrate the tedium of spending four years in solitary conlinement. as the Wolf did before his case carrrc to trial.
While the end of the (‘old War may have opened tip Eastern Europe to docurrrentar'y makers. fortunately there are still a few old school Ruskics prepared to lob a .‘ylolotov cocktail in the name of the television drama. In The Writing On The Wall (Sun/Mon. BBCI ). two terrorist grotrps one fascist. the other far left —- are condtrcting a bombing cartrpaign against NATT) army bases in (icrmany. According to the credits. [his production was the beneficiary of an EC script tleveloprirent fund and the resulting four-patter can only be described as a Euro-thriller.
Let’s hope it is not a genre which catches on. Judging by the first episode. the story promises to be about as thrilling as reading born-again Eur‘ocrat Neil Kinnock‘s travel expenses. What makes it more excrutiating is the way every line is delivered in the kind of mittel-Europe accent that used to ptts‘s for comedy on '.-l/ln. I‘ll/u.
Parachuted in to save the serial is the classy Bill Paterson. playing an M l 5 investigator who operate on the ‘civilian-slash-militar'y interface‘. Not a particularly sexy line of business. you might think. but the script writer knew that ‘slash' would come in handy fora joke during the inevitable urinal scene. Why is it men in espionage thrillers can only pass on information while passing warer'.’
Also taking the piss was Page 3: A Celebration (Sun. Scottish) which marked the 25th anniversary of The Sun stunna. Presented by the ultimate Page 3 girl Samantha Fox. a kind of anti- matter version of supermodel Kate Moss. this documentary sought to combine the punning wit of a tabloid headline with an attempt to link topless totty with the classic ntrde. It was obvious who was going to come out on top: the very presence of ultra-plummy art critic Brian Sewell in the same programme as The Sun columnist Garry Bushell. demonstrated a tongue-slash- cheek interface. However Gal. did provide some unexpected insight into his readership while attempting to explain the Page 3 girl's popularity: ‘She could be your sister or your cousin'. Perhaps that's what they mean by a family newspaper. (Eddie Gibb)
TBThe List 26 Jul-8 Aug 1996