In The lists fortnightly dispatch from the soap opera frontllne we ask why there seems to be such a proliferation of barking teenagers on our screens of late.
Teenagers. eh? Who'd have ‘em? In soapland, if they’re not enjoying gym- slip pregnancies they‘re discovering God. doing drugs orjust going plain round the twist.
Take Joe — go on. take him — from EastEnders (BBCI; Mon. Tue. Thurs) for instance. When he joined the soap as the long-lost son of wayward Romeo David Wickes. Joe seemed normal enough. A bit spotty and moody perhaps. but nothing you couldn‘t put down to the hormones. In recent months though. it’s been clear to everyone bar the rest of the cast that Joe is more loony tunes than a Bugs Bunny convention.
You could tell there was something strange about him. It wasn‘tjust the way married woman (well, Gita and Ruth at any rate) were drooling over the sixteen-year-old newcomer, btrt the way from the off he was drawn to dull God-squadder Sarah Hills. Not since Rasputin held the Russian court in thrall has a mad bloke had such success with the ladies.
Of course the early explanation for Joe‘s tantrums was fair enough: his younger sister was killed by a drunk driver and he was understandably cut up about it. But frankly that doesn't explain his conviction that voices in video machines talk to him. As an assistant in a video rental shop, he's well placed to warn the rest of Albert Square that the tapes are encoded with the voice ofevil.
More recently he‘s taken to playing jungle tracks at top volume while using a marker pen to score out words in the newspaper. Then he bought ten pounds of flour to make himself a cake because he’s convinced his dad is trying to poison him. ‘They‘re on to you — I‘ve been told!‘ he mutters into the depths of the mixing bowl.
He’s plainly one Cortina short ofa car lot and yet the Square has put it down to a teenage phase he’s going through. Before you know it. Joe will have razored his hair Travis Bickle style and found ajob driving mini-cabs. We‘ll know the score. but everyone else will think he‘s just a bit mixed up.
Oop north. the kids are just as barmy. Or at least Rob in Ilollyoaks (Channel 4; Mon, Thurs) might be. thanks to the unspecified pharmaceuticals that were used to spike his drink. Rob (posh accent. hair from shampoo ad) is himself a drug dealer, which does not endear him to his girlfriend Lucy (posh accent. hair from a . . . you get the picture). It seems her idea of rehab was to plink-plink-ﬁzz a couple of tabs into his Coke.
‘I want to help you. Rob,‘ shrieked Lucy.
‘To die or go mad — which one Lucy?’ countered the hallucinogenic Hamlet.
Who cares? Hollyoaks is good fun, but it's just not proper soap as we know it. And this from Phil Redmond. the man who gave us the street-wise Grange Hill and Brookside. What
happened — did he have a ‘special‘ Pepsi Max himself? (Mary Macdonald)
The American way
Acclaimed critic Robert Hughes talks to Susanna Beaumont about his major new series on American art.
Robert Hughes has a way with words. Cutting through arty pomp and historical circumstance with a tongue far sharper than any artist’s palette knife, Hughes is a doyen of art criticism who has no truck with pretentious talk. His ground-breaking analysis of modem art, The Shock of the New, is still remembered sixteen years on as a deﬁnitive piece of arts television.
It may seem out of character that his new eight—part television series American Visions is described by Hughes as ‘a sort of love letter to America‘. This is the man who last year incensed arch-conservative Newt Gingrich. from the pages of Time magazine with his stringent criticism of federal funding policies.
In his I993 book Culture Of Complaint, he had already attacked The National Endowment Of The Arts for
caving in to political pressure over its controversial funding of work by artists like Robert Mappelthorpe during the Reagan years. ‘He left the country a little stupider in I988 than it had been in l980.’ Hughes says.
So has Hughes retreated and gone soft? Far from it; his love is not blind. Exploring American visual culture from the Puritans to the art idols of the present day. Hughes happily tackles sacred cows en route. ‘lt‘s not an ecstatic or erotic letter.‘ says Hughes of American Visions. ‘There's a certain amount of reproach.’
There sure is, as he expresses despair of the recycled ideas that feature in much contemporary American art. ‘I don‘t want to stand on a soap box and say it's the end of an empire but there‘s a lot which isn't very interesting and
American Visions: art critic Robert Ilughes In eloquent form
[Jeff] Koons is an example of what I really dislike.‘ he says.
Koons. whose life-size models of himself with former Italian porn actress and ex-wife Cicciolina in suggestive poses are notorious. receives a classic Hughes tongue-lashing. ‘No doubt Koons couldn‘t carve his name on a tree,‘ he quips.
When he sets to on the cult of the American automobile in the 50s, when three out of four of the world's car were on the American highway. the wordmaster is cruising. He describes one car as having 'breasts like Jane Mansﬁeld — when you hit the brakes the rear end lights up like a robot animal in heat‘. Hughes is still firing on all cylinders.
American Visions starts on Sun 3 Nov on BBC2.
I Apple Scruffs (Radio 2) Sat 2 Nov. 5.03pm. All a bit tragic. this. Johnnie Walker looks into the extraordinary lengths to which Beatles‘ groupies went in their devotion to the Scouse superstars. Nancy from Ohio put away all her spare dimes from the age of eleven to get to the UK to see them. while one regularly took Paul McCartney's sheepdog Martha for long strolls.
I Beat Patrol with Peter Easton (Radio Scotland) Sun 3 Nov. 5pm. Recorded at King Tut’s during the ID Day Weekend, Geneva show why they are being tipped for big things. The chaps also pop in to chat to Mr Easton about their past as Sunfish. their present as chartstorrners and the future . . .
I Stanza On Stage (Radio 4) Sat 2 Nov.
1 1.30pm. Dundonian poet Don Paterson is captured on stage during this year‘s Edinburgh Festival performing his particular mix of pOetry and jazz. His first collection Nil Nil. published two years ago. shoved him to the forefront of a new breed of Scottish writers reclaiming their language.
I Football legends - Lawrie Reilly (Radio 5) Mon 4 Nov. 7.35pm. Born in Edinburgh in I928, Reilly‘s life in football was centred around one club — Hibs — joining them from school and retiring through injury aged 30. As part of the legendary Famous Five. Reilly helped the side win the league three times in the 50s. becoming the first Scottish representatives in the European Cup. Jimmy Armlield is the man with the questions.
I The Race For The White House (Radio 5) Tue 5 Nov. midnight. Eddie Mair ~ presents all-night coverage of the US Presidential Election as Bob Dole attempts to avoid suffering a good thrashing at the hands of Slick Bill. Prepare for a night of razzrnatazz with little in the way of policy as we hear from
Inés de Castro, Radio 3, Sat 9 Nov opinions across the US A.
I Ines de Castro (Radio 3) Sat 9 Nov, 6.30pm. Recently recorded at the Theatre Royal. James McMillan's debut opera receives its first broadcast. Helen Field sings the title role while McMillan talks to Brian Morton about the joy and strain of the whole writing experience.
I Soho live (Radio I) Sun l0 Nov. 8pm. Not a stroll round the murkier establishments of London. but the first slab of twenty hours coverage of the capital‘s prime urban festival. Tonight‘s performers include The Delgados. Fluke and DJs Kemistry and Storm with Baby Bird. Geneva. Super Furry Animals and The Divine Comedy among the week's acts.
I The Music Machine (Radio 3) Mon I I Nov. 5pm. The first of a series of programmes focusing on jazz trumpet genius Wynton Marsalis. which includes a visit to the Manhattan School of Music. discipline and practice and Wynton’s advice on how to improvise Happy Birthday.
I Taking The Highers Road (Radio 5) Mon ll Nov. 8.30am. Punbelievable title. that. The Scottish state education system is radically different from the one down south. as are the results. The Magazine talks to teachers and educationalists who conclude that the English system has much to learn. (Brian Donaldson)
noma- Mind matters
There’s nothing television audiences like better than a peculiar medical condition. As a writer of accessible books on neurology, no one does it better or with more basic humanity than Oliver Sacks, author of the unlikely best-seller Awakenings about finding a cure for the 60s epidemic of sleeping sickness. In the film version he was played by Robin Williams.
Ilow appearing on screen as himself for the first time in a major TV series, Sacks investigates six neurological case studies which certainly qualify as bizarre. Six-year-old lleidl has William’s Syndrome, a condition which leaves her particularly unsuited to late 20th century life, including an inability to cross roads safer or understand the concept of money. What she does have, however, is an extraordinary knack of forming human relationships by picking up on other people’s moods.
In the first programme, Sacks visits the Pacific island of Guam where many older inhabitants have been struck by mysterious trance-like symptoms similar to the doctor’s sleeping sickness patients of 30 years ago. We seen some strange diseases in my time but nothing like this one," says Sacks. Precisely the words that fans of medical documentaries will want to hear. (Eddie Gibb)
The Mind Traveller is on Thursdays at 9.30pm on 8862.
“The List l-l4 Nov I996