In the week Michael Grade announced that he was leaving to take up the post of bingo-caller-in-chief at his uncle’s leisure firm. Channel 4 seemed to be over run with chirpy young fellows determined to inject a little end-of-the- pier jollity into the schedules. Two of the station's resident lads, Chris Evans and Bob Mills. bounded on to their respective shows, announcing themselves as the new chief executive of Channel 4. At least Evans possessed the wit to present TFI Friday in his boss’s trademark shirtsleeves and red braces.

Mills. meanwhile. doesn't seem to possess the wit, full stop, which is a bit of a drawback for a stand-up comedian. His new show. called simply The Show (Saturdays. Channel 4). is a vehicle apparently designed to divert attention from this crucial failing. Like the fashion for deconstructivist architecture which exposes the pipes and ducts which make a building function. The Show aims to uncover the process of creating a chatshow.

With cameras eavesdropping on production meetings between The Talent. the producers and Channel 4's commissioning editor. the viewer was given the distinct impression that the backroom boys didn’t find Mills particularly funny either. With these scenes used as a counterpoint to the ‘real‘ show. the device served only to

portray Mills as a rather charmless comic with more ego than ability.

In the first programme. Mills discovered that rival chatshow host Frank Skinner had also lined up Michael Palin and the Krankies as guests. ‘Palin I can accept. but Palin and the Krankies. I find rather sinister.‘ he growled. A mole in the Mills camp was suspected. Yes. really.

An undercover researcher with a concealed microphone was dispatched to infiltrate the recording of Skinner‘s show and find out exactly what questions Palin was asked. Clearly comedy is a very serious business indeed. or perhaps Mills has been watching too many episodes of N YPD Blue.

If all else fails for Patrick Kielty in Last Chance Lottery (Saturdays. Channel 4) there's surely ajob waiting for him in one of Grade‘s Blackpool hotels making old ladies giggle at his cheeky Irish blamey. A mere stn'pling at 25. Kielty is a kind of cross between Daniel O‘Donnell and Chris Evans who could well grow up to be Terry Wogan.

Like Evans’s Don 't Forget Your Toothbrush. this is an attempt to create a light entertainment format that will generate lTV-sized ratings while camouflaging it as ironic, media- literate telly for people who wouldn’t be caught dead watching a gameshow. The theme is the great British loser. with people who have failed at something wheeled on to have another

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Last week a former contestant on The Golden Shot, whose badly aimed projectile had missed its mark. was given a second chance. Kielty got to say the immortal words. ‘Bemie. the bolt‘. while racing around the primary

coloured set in a shiny jacket as a totaliser flashed up the size ofthe week‘s jackpot. There were admittedly a couple of sharp ideas. such as Kielty putting a grand ofGrade‘s money on a greyhound at Catford. with a live link- up so we could watch the race. But the dog lost, and I‘m not sure I would back this show either.

While trashy new money was being flung at the screen on Channel 4. the Beeb was enticing the landed gentry from their ancestral lairs to talk about the history of The Aristocracy (Wednesdays. BBCZ). Looking like an etiolated Pee-Wee Herman in tweeds. an Anglo-Irish baronet called Sir Jossyln Gore-Booth explained that his forefathers had been forced to arm themselves to the teeth to quell a rebellion by disgruntled tenant farmers at the turn of the century.

These days it‘s the bank manager who

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The Aristocracy: no more port and Stilton is smoking his sort out. as successive generations of aristos inherit leaking old mansions but no readies to fix the roof. Perhaps Country Life should launch a special edition with half the cover price going to a ‘help a hooray' fund. Many ofthem seemed to be decent old sticks who are no doubt somebody‘s favourite uncle in a BCITIC Wooster sort of way.

But nature is red in tooth and claw. and though the countryside is full of protected species. the upper classes are not among them. Perhaps the same harsh logic these chaps use to justify a day's deer-stalking. could he applied to blue-bloods who have been pitifully weakened by centuries of iii-breeding and the declining stocks of port and Stilton. A cull. gentlemen? The alternative is asking that ghastly Michael Grade to turn them into a themed visitor attraction. (Eddie Gibb)


I A Touch OI Frost (Scottish) Sun 9 Feb. 8-lOpm. David Jason retums for a new series of the detective series which shamelessly a s Inspector Morse.

I The South anlt Show (Scottish) Sun 9 Feb. l0.45—l l.45pm. First of a two-part documentary about the eccentric English artists Gilbert and George.

I Seriously Funny (Channel 4) Tue l 1 Feb. 9—lOpm. Howard Jacobson continues his analysis of the history of humour with a look at the importance of willies in comedy.

I Omnibus (BBCl)Tue ll Feb. 10.45—11.35pm. Timed to coincide with Ivanhoe. which continues on Sunday nights. this documentary about the life and work of Sir Walter Scott called The Wizard Of The North examines the writer's legacy to Scotland. The basic question is whether Scott can be blamed for the kitsch representations of Scotland through tartan and heather. or whether he shrewdly packaged Scouish oral culture to save it from the coming industrial age.

I Face To Face (BBC2) Tue I 1 Feb. 11.15pm—midnight. Jeremy lsaacs interviews Booker Prize-winning novelist Roddy Doyle whose tales of working- class Dublin life are popular and critical hits. Doyle talks about his own childhood and first career as a teacher.

I Trouble At The Top (BBC2) Wed 12 Feb. 9.50—10.30pm. An update on last year Nightmare At Canary Wharf about the launch of Live TV is subtitled Kelvin 's Revenge. After the acrimonious departure of Janet Street-Porter. former Sun editor Kelvin McKenzie was drafted in to shake up the station.

I Counterlilast (BBC2) Wed 12 Feb. 7.30—8pm. Series of six polemics from people challenging conventional wisdom on a variety of subjects. First up is Dr Mike Fitzpatrick who argues that society is becoming child(obsessed as parean subordinate their lives to their offspring. I Wildlife On One (BBCl) Thurs 13 Feb. 8-8.30pm. A new series of the popular wildlife programme kicks off with a film about the endangered pygmy chimpanzee. inevitably narrated by David Attenborough.

I Before I Die (BBC2) Thurs 13 Feb. 10.15—10.25pm. This week's film from a short season about dying is a personal account by journalist Oscar Moore who died of AIDS last year. His last months were chronicled in a Guardian column called PWA (person with AIDS). and in this film he looks back on his life as he prepares to die.

I Silent Witness (BBC l) Fri 14 Feb. 9.30—10.20pm. With McCallatn still running, we are offered a second dose of forensic pathology with Amanda Burton as the emotionally buttoned-up Dr Sam Ryan. In the first of four two-part stories. Dr Ryan investigates the death in the ring of a young boxer.

I The Mr: Merton Show (BBC!) Fn‘ 14 Feb. l0.20—lO.50pm. The hugely successful chatshow fronted by Caroline Aheme dressed as a blue-rinse returns for another series. Receiving a geriatric grilling tonight are Jonathan Ross and Jeff Banks.

I llere’e Johnny (Channel 4) Fri l4 Feb. lO.30—l 1.05pm. New chat show from Channel 4's perkiest presenter. Johnny Vaughan. See Frontlines.

I Flava (Channel 4) Fri 14 Feb. l2.45-l.15am. New series of the black

music show kicks off with a Valentine's Day special. featuring steamy videos from the US. including 2 Pac’s banned promo for ‘How Do You Want lt‘?‘

I Correspondent (BBC2) Sat 15 Feb. 7.l5-—8pm. The in-depth foreign reporting programme returns for another series. with the first edition presented by the BBC‘s Southern Africa correspondent.

Chalk: classroom comedy that lacks class

Alan Little. I Chalk (BBCl ) Thurs 20 Feb. the. A

new sitcom in a very traditional English

vein from the people who brought you

- Joking Aside. Pantomime humour set in a

busy comprehensive. which on the evidence of the first programme fails to exploit the comic possibilities of the location.

84 The List 7-20 Feb I997