Channel Hopping

‘Wliere there is collective bargaining. we will bring union derecogiiition; where there is permanent employment. we will bring short contracts. and where there is public service. we will bring private prolit.’ So began Margaret Thatcher‘s first term in government —- or so it seems with hindsight —- and the arrival of her Big Idea for the I980s which totally transfoi'iiied the political and economic landscape in Britain -- privatisation.

In The Great Sell-on (BB('2. Sundays). a three-part documentary by journalist John l’lender. we return to Thatcher's early days in office in an attempt to find out exactly. who was the architect of privatisation. In the past various candidates have been put forward. including Free Market heavies like Keith Joseph and Norman Tebbit. Recent Tory leadership challenger John Redwood even popped up to remind everyone that he was as far-right then as he is now. honest.

The strange thing is that there was no mention of privatisation in the Conservative party's manifesto in NW. and precious little was said about it subsequently when Thatcher stood for re-election. Indeed one of the then Prime Minister's first high-profile industrial interventions was to save the publicly-owned steelworks at Raveiiscraig from closure. albeit only

temporarily to gain some short-term political advantage. It seems that privatisation 7- aka denationalisatioii was a policy which was largely made tip as they went along.

The estimated £80 billion the Treasury raised from selling publicly-owned assets was also spent as they went along. The sheer scale of the enterprise and the fact the money has disappeared ensures that privatisation was a political policy that. though never presented directly to the electorate. could not be reversed even if anyone wanted to.

In fact Labour enters the election race minus (‘lause 4. the party's long- standing constitutional commitment to nationalised industry. Meanwhile. the ('onservatiyes’. having sold off all the country‘s main utilities. want to continue repeating the trick. Social services are the next target in an attempt to ensure everything from nurseries to residential care for the elderly is privately operated.

It's hard to see Sid or anyone else buying shares in iiicals-ori-wlieels. btit in the run-up to the next election. privatisation is still likely to be an issue for both parties. This timely documentary provides a useful perspective on the limits of political power once market forces are unleashed. Margaret Thatcher uncorked a genie. btit no politician can ptit it back in the bottle.

The impact of the contract culture was felt keenly among the lads in Common AS Muck (BBC l. Wednesdays). William lvory‘s magnificent drama serial about council binmen. ()r at least they were binmeii until the council‘s refuse collection was put otrt to tender

in the last series and everyone lost their

jobs. Being a binman may be a rubbish job but the lads made it bearable by sticking together. Now binned themselves. they are still trying to stick by each other. btrt without the shared experience of work it's tough. Coin/nun As Muck is the 90s tlipside of Auj'lViw/erse/Ieii. l’el. While the self-eiiiployed builders got on their bikes to find work in Germany. as per instructions from the Thatcher government. these are the dependable types who cherished jobs they had assumed would be for life. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. but the ex-birimen are trying their best. The 1:15.000 or so they raise from selling the lease on their yard will no doubt be invested in some other sure-to-fail enterprise. While the first series was essentially a comedy. the strength of lvory's characters has allowed the story to take an almost surreal turn in the second without losing its footing. hi the last

Common As Muck: dlrty surrealism

episode Ken (Neil Dudgeon) was hired to whitewash the roof of the local Catholic church: he ended up painting the famous God-created-Adam detail from the Sistine Chapel. The earthy realism of the lads‘ situation is tempered with an insight into the dreams of each character. in a tale of unrealised potential. (‘miinimi As Muck is an exhilarating expeririieiit in popular drama. a rarity on television these days.

William Ivory is clearly influenced by Alan Bleasdale's ability to show the black comedy of grim situations. The re-runs of The Boys From The Blackstutt (UK Gold. Sundays) last week reached ‘Yosser's Story'. with Bernard Hill as the unemployed labourer trying desperately to prevent his children being taken into care. His memorable catch-phrase ‘giz. a _iob' remains television's most stinging barb aimed at the soul-destroying effect of unemployment. and it still echoes through (I‘mninnn As Muck. (Eddie Gibb)


I Country Night (BBCZ) Sat 25 Jan. 9p]ll—2.5()illll. .lools Holland and Dolly l’arton pair up to present a night of country music. including concert footage live from Nashville‘s Rymaii Auditorium featuring Ricky Skaggs and Alison Krauss. In a documentary called .S'ungrmulr: xl .‘I'Insir'u/ [fiends/rip I’m/n Nashville to Dun/(chi. the musical partnership between American country star Kathy Mattea and Scottish singer/songwriter Dougie Macleari is explored.

I last Chance lottery (Channel 4) Sat 25 Jan. 9— l0piii. Rising star Patrick Kielty. who at 25 has already turned down the offer of his own cliatsliow. presents this entertainment show about losers who have the last laugh.

I Bragg On America (Scottish) Sun 26 .Ian. l0.45--l l.45piii. The first of two progi'aiiiines in which Melvyn Bragg takes a personal look at the impact of US culture on our own. Tonight he travels to New York where he meets painter David Hockney.

I Don’t look Down (Scottish) Stiii 26 Jan. I l.-lSpiii—l2.45arii. The new series of the arts magazine presented by Siobhan Synot continues. with reports on Clyde Unity Theatre's adapation of Ariiiistead Maupiri's Bu/rvr'ukex at The Tron.

I McCallum (Scottish) Mon 27 Jan.

9— l0pm. First instalment of another two- pai'tei' about a Scottish forensic pathologist working in London's liast lind. Tonight it appears that antibiotics misuse is the killer amidst fears of another plague sweeping across London.

I Cutting Edge (Channel 4) Mon 27 Jan. ‘)—|0pm. Investigation into the deaths of

25 army intelligence officers when a helicoptercrashed on the Mull of Kintyre in I‘NJ. New evidence suggests the pilots were not guilty of negligence. as the RAF claimed.

I Ruby Wax Meets... (BBt‘l i Mon 27 Jan. l0.20—- l0.50pm. The new series of Ruby 's celebrity interviews continues with another encounter with Pamela Anderson. They talk kids and favourite sexual positions.

I The Numbers Game (BBCB i Tue 2s .laii. 7.30 8pm. BBC liducation launches a new numeracy campaign called Count .I,(' In with this programme about the impact of mathematical theories oii everyday life. Tonight. how gamblers can tip the odds in their favour.

I The Aristocracy (BBCZ i Wed 291nm. ‘) 0.50pm. New four-part series on the rise and fall of Britain's toffclasses.

I Fortean TV (Channel 4) Wed 2‘) Jan.

9 0.30pm. liurthei' exploiting , Files fever. this new series looks at unexplained phenomena. The gimmick is its presenter lionel l-‘antliorpe. a Church of Wales priest who rides riiotorbikes and writes science fiction in his spare time.

I Horizon (BB(‘2) Thurs 301an.

0.25 I0. I 5pm. New series of the BBC."s long-running science documentary strand opens with a three-part look at ancient remains that have been preserved for thousands of years in ice. ln tonight's prograiiiriie. researchers reveal the tomb of a Siberian maiden who has been on ice for 3500 years.

I Betore I Die ( BBCZ) Tliur's 30 Jan.

l0 l5 l0.30pm. New series of short films tirade by people with terminal illnesses. In the first prograiiiriie. a mother with cancer uses a camcorder to help explain to her four children that she is preparing to die.

I Hill Street Blues (Channel 4) Sat l Feb.

last Chance lottery: is Patrick lttelty the next Chris Evans?

ll.30piii—l2.25am. Steve Boclico's excellent mid-80s cop show which begat so many imitators is repeated.

I Breaking The Code (BBC l) Wed 5 Feb.

the. As part of the ('rnrnt Me In numeracy campaign. this drama tells the story of

Alan Turing. the riiathematical genius who designed a computer which helped the Allied forces crack Nazi codes during WWII. However after the war. Turing‘s homosexuality created a scandal and he fell from grace.

The List 24 Jan-6 Feb I997 79