’Twas the season to be lolly, but the good cheer did not spread as far as soapland, where family squabbles ruled. We pick through the emotional wreckage of the festivities.
British soaps have an annual tradition of saving up the worst that can happen to their characters as a special Christmas treat. While all the other festive programmes are bedecked in cheery tinsel and sttrffed with wholesome family fun. in the soaps someone is sure to be crying into the turkey.
And that's the way we like it. surely? No matter how awful your own Yuletide. yotr can be sure it was better than Christmas dinner with the M itcltells in EastEnders (BBCI; Mon. Tue and Thurs). With the dreadful Phil getting drunker and more abusive. it was perhaps not the moment for Joe to report he had spotted mummy kissing Santa Claus -- Grant. that is. No wonder Tiffany can‘t make it through her pregnancy without a drink. Even saintly Ruth found her temper fraying as she bickered with Pauline over the sprouts.
Things were little better after the Tiffany-Grant-Lorraine-Nigel storyline boiled over at New Year. The Old Vic must be a terrible place to spend Hogtuanay -- the bar staff were too busy with their own problems to bother getting the drinks in. Grant tackled Tiffany over the paternity of her baby. uttering the biologically naive phrase: ‘If it's mine. I‘m ‘avin‘ it.‘ But never mind how. what ifit isn‘t his? ‘It can go in the canal for all I care.‘ Charming.
Lorraine broke r 'igel‘s heart by confessing that she‘d slept with the man he thought was his best friend. Nigel's rejection of Grant was movineg acted. but his vow never to see him again was frankly unbelievable in a place the size of Albert Square. Unless he's planning on going uptown to become a club DJ. that is.
There wasn’t rntrch peace on earth in Emmerdale (Scottish; Ttre. Wed and Thtrrs) nor Brookside (Channel 4: Tue. Wed and Fri). where chestnuts could have been roasted on some very open fires. Emmett/ale celebrated going thrice weekly by carelessly torching one of its better characters. Dirty Dave. Sadly the fire didn‘t spread to the barn where the ludicrous Dingles live. despite their dastardly attempt to rob the carol singers' collection tin.
Brtmkie’s Jackie COl'khill is still vacillating between husband Jimmy and lover Ron. The latter promised he would give her everything she‘d never had from marriage — starting with a hostess trolley. Some bizarre Highland outfits at the New Year party provided light relief. but sibling lovers Nat and Georgia continue to run their effective campaign against incest by being the dreariest couple on the Close. Now they are arguing over who’s going to be sterilised — give both of them the snip. I say.
Only Coronation Street (Scottile Mon, Wed and Fri) tried to cheer trs up. with evil Don Brennan‘s suicide bid (unsuccessful. sadly) and Curly's bewildering transformation into a super-stud. Thank goodness Christmas comes but once a year. (Andrea Mullaney)
mm:— Screen double
Two Scottish presenters have been hired to front Channel 4’s new show, Film Night, which promises an opinionated alternative to Barry Norman’s sweater. Eddie Gibb hears how.
While the BBC ttpdates the title sequence for the new series of Barry Norman's predictably narued film show. Channel 4 has cooked up a new format which it claims will be more opinionated and gush less over the latest LA star to step out of a limo. Called simply Film Night. it's an all- Scottish affair made by Glasgow-based production company Wark Clements. The show is presented by Janice Forsyth and Torumy Udo. a new-to-TV face who worked on music weekly. NMIL'.
Film Night is essentially a response to the rise in independent ﬁlmmaking as a creative and commercial alternative to the Hollywood studios' output. The first programme includes a feature on Steve Reservoir Dogs B uscew' ’
directorial debut. 'l'rees [.1 ‘h gives an indication of tl indie outlook. This is a
film programme. and its i
festival is Robert Redfort.
Sundance on which it will i um
Film flight: movies for the Tarantino generation
‘We will be concentrating on non- mainstream movies.‘ says series producer Fiona White. who previously worked on Scottish Television‘s NB. ‘Part ofthe brief is also to look at different ways that people consume frlm.‘
Aside frorn the ruain feature. there will be weekly guests talking about their favourite t'rlm; ajokey guide to film-buff terms like native/[e vague which are so handy for dropping into dinner party conversation. and a look at some of the interesting movies shown on television that week. However unlike Film 97 and Channel 4‘s teen- oriented Mm'iewateh. it won't actually review the week's cinema releases.
Nor will it take The Late Shaw's highbrow chin-stroking approach to arts criticism. ‘We want to get away froru the round table with people
batting back and forward. trying to be clever about their opinions.‘ says White.
The success of the show will depend to a large extent on the on-screen chemistry of the presenting double-act. who were once colleagues on Streets Ahead. a forerunner of The List which was published in Glasgow. ‘We're not experts — it's the way people talk about films after they have been to see them.‘ says For‘syth. who presents BBC Radio Scotland's Saturday morning slot The Jamie Furs-v”! Show.
Could this be a Scottish version of legendary American film critics. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. whose intellectual response to every movie is to give it the thumbs tip or down? Or perhaps The Great Iz‘si'ape‘s Etran and Mari for grown-ups?
Film Night starts on Tue [4 Jim at l/.4()/mt on Channel 4.
I Wowfabgroovy (Radio 2) Fri 10 Jan. 7.03pm. Nostalgia-fest with Lynsey De Paul and Simon Dee. and team captains Toyah (where is she?) Wilcox battling it out to identify music. names and events from the 50s. ()0s and 70s. Johnnie Walker chairs. But then it is Radio 2.
I Wilderness Walks (Radio Scotland) Fri l0 Jan. 8pm. New series in which prominent Brits stretch their legs. and presumably our minds. over the course of six programmes and a good few miles of rural Scotland. Southern Ireland and Bafﬁn Island. Chris Smith MP. broadcaster. journalist and campaigner Lesley Riddoch and Olympic gold medallist Chris Basher are among those heading for the hills. Outdoor writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish leads the way.
I Pure Agony (Radio 5 Live) Suit 12 Jan. 8.30pm. Lola Borg with a one-off programme looking at what it takes to make it as an agony aunt. The Sun's Deirdre Sanders - who's courted controversy with her Daily Photo Casebook and premature ejaculation trotlines — Woman‘s Suzie Hayrnan and Just l 7‘s agony uncle Nick Fisher are among those opening their postbags to the public and revealing the joys and sorrows of advising the lovelom and lonely — arid making up problems that don't exist. Not really. They're all completely true.
I flew Commandments (Radio 4) Mon 13 Jan. 8.43am. Polly Toynbce with a new series and the startling revelation that the Ten Commandments are outdated. The average Christian can only remember seven and most young people can only recall three apparently. yet a recent BBC poll revealed the majority of people would prefer to live by some sort of moral code. In this live-part series of fifteen minute slots. Toynbee asks leading public figures for their own personal ten corumandrnents in a bid to find a more memorable moral code than the one found on Mount Sinai. I Big Bang (Radio 4) Mon l3 Jan. l0.02am. Jez Nelson explodes into the new year with another series of the programme exploring all at the cutting edge of technology and scientific discoveries.
I The league Against Tedium (Radio I ) Wed l5 Jan. 9pm. Simon Munnery aka stand-up and Fringe star Alan Parker Urban Warrior. injects some laughter into the Radio I schedules with an offbeat new comedy series allowing established stand- ups to break away from their standard routines. Joining the ever-anarchic Munnery are Stewart Lee. Kevin Eldon. Roger Mann and other special guests over the show‘s six-week run.
I Macliiarrnid - In Search Of Great Music (Radio 3) Sun l9 Jan. 3.45pm. Leading 20th century Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid‘s creative and personal relationship with composers and musicians and the inherently musical nature of his own writing is explored in this one-off feature-length programme presented by Brian Morton. (Ellie Carr)
IlS sitcom Family Ties made Michael J. Fox a star, and now after an uneven spell in the movies he’s made a smart career move back to television. In Spin City- already a big hit in the US - Fox plays Mike Flaherty, the savvy deputy to the good natured but politically naive mayor of New York.
Whether it’s possible to be a politically naive mayor of New York is another matter, but his media-spinning sidekick manages to keep the ball in play. The fact that Flaherty’s girlfriend is a newspaper reporter assigned to cover town hall politics is both a help and a hindrance - the couple’s pillow talk involves first establishing whether it’s off the record.
The split between workplace and home offers double the comedy potential, and provides an edge to the apparently mandatory apartment humour. That, coupled with the fact that US politicians speak a spicier language than your Majors or Blairs, makes this one of the better imports screened on Channel 4. Even liew ' York’s err-major Ed ltoch likes it, apparently. (Eddie Gibb)
Spin City starts on Fri 10 Jan on Channel 4.
84 The List l0-23 Jan I997