After an indifferent festive season on telly, during which ITV never looked like showing anything you’d be son'y to miss, the ﬁrst big gun drama of I997 was wheeled out with a four-hour remake of Daphne du Maurier's liebecca (Scottish) sprawled across two nights. Alfred Hitchcock managed to bring his adaptation of the novel in at just over two hours, which indicates just how ﬂabby this new version was. Deﬁnitely not a case of du Maurier. du merrier.
To recap on the story. a young girl is swept off her feet by the handsome Max de Winter, who is still traumatised by the recent death of his wife, Rebecca. After a passionate honeymoon, the young bride arrives at her new home, the elegant Mandeley. where the vast domestic staff are less than delighted with this young replacement for m’lady, and Rebecca’s ghost seems to haunt the place.
Charles Dance played Max, the role previously occupied by Laurence Olivier, with an studied insouciance which bordered on boredom. He can do rafﬁsh with his eyes shut, and frequently did more or less that. He smouldered occasionally, but the embers were pretty much out by the time the rest of the cast caught the mood. Newcomer Emilia Fox as the second Mrs de Winter tucked her hair behind her ears in an approximation of child-like innocence and, well, that was about it.
The army of simple Cornish folk employed at Mandeley spoke in clotted cream accents which suggested long and fulﬁlling careers lie ahead of them advertising diary products. With luck, that will also be the director‘s next engagement. Only Diana Rigg as the embittered old retainer, Mrs Danvers, captured the shivers of the story. but even then her performance seemed a mannered nod at Hitchcock. It was impossible not to wonder why anyone had bothered.
One of a clutch of breezy new entertainment shows bringing in the New Year is Dani Dares (Channel 4. Fridays). a vehicle for the under-rated ex-presenter of The Ward, Dani Behr. Political correctness forbids me from suggesting that ‘Dani Bares’ might have been a more intriguing concept,
Danl Dares: perky presenter in tired format
but this has the look of an already tired idea revived once too often.
The deal is that each week Dani signs up to do something dangerous. uncomfortable and challenging along with a bunch ofordinary folks. In the ﬁrst programme Dani was trained as a bodyguard by a South African neckhead. He had the look of someone who thought apartheid got a bad press. but perhaps his parade-ground hark was worse than his bite.
Pik, or whatever the hell his name was. admitted he had never trained an all-women group. It wasn‘t long before he was calling them a bunch of pathetic housewives like he’d been doing it for years. No one answered back, of course. Nine members of the group desperater wanted to pass. presumably in the hope of improving theirjob
prospects, while Dani was already being paid to put up with the abuse for our enjoyment. But you can‘t say she wasn’t motivated - Dani came second and still looked like she could pull a Premier League footballer at a moment‘s notice.
Someone else who used to roll his sleeves up and get on with the job was Don Johnson. the blonde-streaked star of airhead cop show Miami Vice. Sadly it was the sleeves on his dress jacket he rolled up, popularising the Hollywood pimp look among the kind of sad British men who would struggle to achieve a pimple.
Now Johnson is back and thankfully he's wearing his jackets the way his tailor intended. The new vehicle for this ultimate late-80s icon is llash Bridges (Scottish, Mondays). another police drama series which ITV is ambitioust running against Channel 4's classy Hmniiriile.
But Nash Bridges looks as if it may have a certain dumb charm of its own. For one thing, the hilly San Francisco setting offers plenty of opportunity for suspension-testing car chases. And then there is Nash‘s sidekick. Cheech Marin. who appears to be considerably more entertaining having ditched his buddy Chong and those irritating dope- srnoking routines. Worth a look.
Finally a word for those who stuck with Murder One (Sky I. Wednesdays) last year. It's back. but minus Ted Hoffman (Daniel Ben/.ali) who is spending more time with his family. The format has been tweaked slightly. but I can report that James Wyler (Anthony LaPaglia) is shaping up to be a worthy successor to Ted, and already a young blonde is in the dock charged with ofﬁng a politician. No objections, your honour. (Eddie Gibb)
I Wilderness Walks (BBC2) Fri 10 Jan. 8-8.30pm. Cameron McNeish pulls on his hiking boots and steps out for a new series about walking. ﬁlmed in Scotland and abroad. Tonight he heads for the Cairngorms with former Olympic runner Chris Brasher.
I Dressing For Breakfast (Channel 4) Fri 10 Jan, 9—9.30pm. Second series of Channel 4's homegrown sitcom which attempts to redress the preponderance of kooky American singles. Louise is still looking for Mr Right as she approaches her 30th birthday but hope springs
eternal . . .
I The Girlie Show (Channel 4) Fri 10 Jan. lI.05-I 1.35pm. Taking the credit(?) for the Spice Girls, Channel 4’s much-derided but rather popular girl-fronted version of The Word returns for a second series. American grunge model Rachel Williams also returns, as does the Wanker of the Week slot. Expect more Daily Mail outrage.
I TV Pizza (Channel 4) Sat 11 Jan, 12.45—I .30am. As part of Channel 4’s new commitment to all-night programming, this cheap ﬁller imports some of the more bizarre moments from US television. No shortage. one imagines. I Wild Relations (Channel 4) Mon 13 Jan, 8—8.30pm. New Australian wildlife series about how animals work together as a team.
I local lleroes (BBC2) Mon 13 Jan. 8-8.30pm. Bike-riding bofﬁn Adam Hart- Davis travels to Scotland for the next programme in his series about the
forgotten heroes of science, where he recounts the story of an inventor from Wick who patented an early version of the fax machine — in I843.
I Dark Skies (Channel 4) Mon I3 Jan, 9—10.50pm. Double helping to introduce this new post-X Files series. See feature. I Panorama (BBC!) Mon 13 Jan. 9.30—l0. 10pm. First programme in a two- part special about police battling against the street drug trade and the spin-off crime wave it creates. Hidden cameras follow Leeds police on patrol, while reporter Steve Bradshaw talks to the city’s Mr Big. I The Net (BBC2) Mon 13 Jan.
I l.lSpm-midnight. New series of the cyber-culture show which includes a look at plans to beam Internet pages by satellite. cutting download times dramatically.
I McCallum (Scottish) Mon 13 Jan, 9-IOpm. John Hannah is the forensic pathologist on the trail of a death in suspicious circumstances in a new series of Scottish Television‘s crime thriller. See Frontlines, page 2.
I llash Bridges (Scottish) Mon 13 Jan. l0.30—l 1.25pm. Don Miami Vice Johnson returns in a 90s incarnation for this series about a San Francisco police special investigator.
I WIan (Channel 4) Tue 14 Jan, 8—8.30pm. After Trainspotting, Channel 4 offers you birdwatching in an new series which tries to explain what makes twitchers twitch.
I Peak Practice (Scottish) Tue 14 Jan. 9—I0pm. New series of the popular medical drama which soldiers on despite haemorrhaging stars.
I Brown lips (BBC2) Tue 14 Jan. lO—IO.30pm. New series about a bunch of
The tips stick: The Glrlle Show Is back for a second serles
thirtysomething chums who know each other from their student days. and are resisting growing up.
I Travelog (Channel 4) Wed 15 Jan, 8.30—9pm. The ubiquitous Pete McCarthy packs his ironic witticisms and heads off the beaten track for another series of the alternative travel show. Tonight he visits a South Paciﬁc island where the last alleged act of cannibalism happened just thirteen years ago and over 100 languages are spoken. Any connection, perhaps?
I Taggart (Scottish) Thurs I6 Jan, 9-lOpm. A new three-part story called Apocalypse, in which the plucky
detectives try to solve the case of the religious cult murders.
I lied Dwarf (BBC2) Fri 17 Jan, 9—9.30pm. After an eventful three-year break, Craig Charles returns as the slacker spaceman aboard a tin-can starship in this hugely popular sci-ﬁ sitcom. In the ﬁrst episode. Lister travels back in time in search of vindaloo and accidentally interferes with the JFK shooting.
I TX (BBC2) Sat I8 Jan, 7.40—9pm. First public screening of footage shot by ﬁlm heavyweight Orson Welles. including some half-ﬁnished features the director struggled to complete in his ﬁnal years.
The List lO-23 Jan I997 85