Never never land
Based on an idea by graphic artist lleil Batman, creator ot the graphic novel series Sandman which llorman Mailer described as ‘a comic strip for intellectuals’, Ileverwliere is a new BBC drama which mixes fantasy, sci-ti and gothic horror set in an alternative vision oi london. Taking the idea oi an underworld literally, the series was shot In the tube tunnels and vaulted dungeons beneath the streets oi the city creating a parallel universe called london Below. It Is populated with characters named after tondon landmarks like Old Bailey and the Black Friar.
Essentially this is an episode of Dr Who scripted by Alasdair Gray in lanark mode. ‘I wanted to create something ior adults that would work like the things that sent our generation behind the soia,’ Batman has said oi the series. llis Sandman character looks set to iollow its BC comics superhero partner onto the big screen with Warners taking out an option on the story about a god of the dream world. But on a smaller scale, and minus the Hollywood ix budget, Neverwhere will establish his cult credentials outside the rather specialised market for graphic novels.
lleverwhere: live action dungeons and dragons
In the first episode young City dealer Bichard - played by Gary Bakewell, the Paul McCartney lookalike irom the Beatles biopic Backbeat- heads oii tor dinner with his girlfriend Jessica (Elizabeth Marmur), but is waylaid by a homeless girl called Boor who’s on the run irom a couple oi underworld baddies. She is Richard’s link with london Below and like the viewer he is sucked into a world populated by knights, barons and london’s guardian angel called, naturally, lslington.
Evidently this is a series where a working knowledge of the tube map and the Monopon board may assist in the enjoyment. (Eddie Gibb) Ileverwlrere begins on Thurs 12 Sept at 9pm on 8802.
I The ltinks (Radio 2) Sat 7. 6.03pm. Recorded in I993 at the Riviera in Chicago. this is the sound of one of the 60s' tnost distinctive British groups demonstrating where many of today‘s bands are coming from. Step forward Mr Albarn.
I The Essential Mix - Pete Tong In Ibiza (Radio I) Sun 8. 2am. You'vejust got in from the club and fancy continuing the party at your own gaff? Then tune into Tong. who is manning the turntables at the Manumission in Ibiza.
I Beat Patrol (Radio Scotland) Sun 8. 5pm. Peter Easton continues to give the next generation of rock bands a break.
I John Peel (Radio I) Sun 8. 8pm. In among the usual pick ‘n‘ mix ofwhatever takes Peelie's fancy front this week‘s record pile. listeners are also getting the chance to hear the recent session tracks from The Delgados. the Glaswegian band behind the Chemikal Underground label. I Andy ltershaw (Radio 1) Sun 8. IOpm. Godfather of surf grunge. Dick Dale lays down some tracks for that nice Mr
I Mixing Ii (Radio 3) Mon 9. l0.45pm. Mark Russell and Robert Sandall present a studio session from the techno-junglist Faultline.
I Marcelle - lite litter Cosmo (Radio 4) Tue l0. l().02am. Marcelle d‘Arcy Smith tells how her life changed for the better after she gave up one of publishing's most glamorous jobs as editor of C(I.\‘Ill()])0lil(lll. I Bollar Signs (Radio Scotland) Wed l l. noon. Pat Kane. armed with a fistful of travellers cheques. meanders through America. This time around he hits a riverboat casino where fortunes are made and lives destroyed.
I Collins And Maconie (Radio I) Wed l I.
l0pm. Andrew and Stuart are on hand to analyse the nominations and winners of this year‘s Mercury Music Prize. Any chance of a repeat of the lacko/Jarvis incident?
I Cunningham And Company (Radio Scotland) Fri l3. 2pm. Phil Cunningham along with Gary Peterson and Andrew Tulloch select and discuss their favourite types of music and introduce a guest musician.
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Bet klnky with Bay Battles and Co, Badlo 2. Sat 7, 6.03pm
Feeling a little below par? Could be that what you require is a little transcendental chuckling followed by a belt of cerebral joy juice. lfthis is what the doctor ordered — and these days there are doctors ordering such things — then you will undergo a course of stringent positive thinking to banish the blues and circumnavigate cynicism. You may be asked to lie down in cartwheel formation with your new glum chums. heads to the centre. and laugh like drains for no reason in particular. Your therapist might even join irt. but then he‘s getting paid by the hour.
A variation on this treatment is to stare at yourself in the shaving mirror and force your facial muscles into the kind of grimace that would make a laughing hyena look hacked off.
In ‘How To Be Happy‘. the opening programme in a new series of the popular science programme QED (BBC l. Wednesdays). three volunteers underwent an intensive course of alternative therapies such as these which are designed to improve their overall cheerfulness rating. Being happy is no longer an emotion. it seems. but a measurable state of mind with distinctive electro-magnetic brain patterns.
Caroline. Keith and Dawn were all the kind of people who find themselves on the receiving end of helpful comments like ‘chcer up. it may never happen‘. According to Dr Richard Davidson. none ofthem were actually clinically depressed but they did ‘tend to be in low spirits‘ and they all scored negative ratings on his glum-o-meter. The cure? A boy scout singalong. of course: ‘If you‘re happy and you know it. clap your hands.‘
It wasn‘t long before they were packing up their troubles in their old kit bags and smile. smile. smiling. For Keith — whose job in sales. steady girlfriend and Mark II Daimler (itemised in that order) - were not enough to guarantee contentment. this cheery ditty seemed to do wonders. Evert Caroline. who had rather less to smirk about given that she‘d been caring full-time for a senile mother for six years. felt uplifted.
Like all these kind of new age guru types. the claims that were made for the therapies seemed exaggerated. but perhaps it‘s churlish to argue with the results. If it works. what‘s the harm in a bit of enforced cheeriness with the breakfast Cheerios? But you couldn‘t help feeling that any activity which involved getting out more and meeting new people might have had the same result. and all for the price of a classified ad in the local newspaper. How about: 'Grump seeks similar for fun and laughter"?
Someone with little to laugh about.
who nonetheless scored a high cheery quotient. was Melanie. a seventeen- year-old northern lass with an abundance of vim and vigour. I say lass. but that was actually where the probletn lay — to all intents and purposes. biologically speaking. Melanie was a man. She is one of about 500 people in Britain who suffer from androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS).
This extremely rare condition was explained in Dark Secrets (BBCZ. Thursdays). a new series of documentaries about gender and genetics. Apparently we all start off female in the womb but around 50 per cent of foetuses have testicles which ﬂood the unborn babies body with male hormones. thus changing the ‘default gender" from girl to boy. But for some unfathomable reason. Melanie‘s body did not respond to these hormones and despite having internal male organs was born female.
After a frightening barrage of tests as a youngster. when doctors were less than frank with her. Melanie has confronted the fact that she can live as a perfectly normal young woman. This is a series which has clearly been commissioned for its freak show undercurrents. but by shining the light of television on her dark secret. Melanie used the documentary as a way of reclaiming her gender identity from the medics. Meanwhile Christina. another AIS sufferer who asked to be shot in the silhouette of TV anonymity. spoke ofthe ‘unspeakable monster" in her life.
The success of the Reeves and Mortimer gameshow-w ith-a-twist. Shooting Stars. seems to have persuaded the BBC that it has cane blanche to monkey around with cheesey TV formats in the name of irony. The Fall Guy (B BC‘2. Fridays) is. to the naked eye. indistinguishable from the output of that merry prankster Noel Edmonds, who in turn begat the awfulness that is Bead/e iv xI/Hllll.
The set-up is thus: meeja barrow-boy Johnny Vaughan mans the studio while minor-league comic Danny Brown. linked to base via an invisible earpiece. rises to ‘challenges‘ posed by viewers who want to see their mates ritually humiliated on national TV. A panel of celebs offer helpful suggestions which are relayed to Danny‘s shell-like while a hidden camera records the ensuing embarrassment.
In last week‘s programme. Danny had to impersonate a Latin dancing instructor. while daytime TV‘s favourite hoofer Lionel Blair fed him step-by-step instructions into his lughole. How thrilling. At least Jeremy Beadle crushed cars and ducked the odd punch from irate stooges. Still. you gotta laugh — it‘s therapeutic. (Eddie Gibb)
The List 6- l9 Sept I996 71