Brookside is suffering from a credibility gap in one of its major storylines, while the characters in Albert Square have come over all pulp fiction.

Ollie Simpson’s voice was incredulous and Ollie is a man who's had to come to terms with some pretty weird things. 'The therapist wants to see all of us. He says we’re a . . . dysfunctional family.’ Well, congratulations, at last you are fully fledged soap characters.

2? .. i

Brookside‘s Nat and Georgia

The Simpsons, of course, are the Brookside (Channel 4) family the others look down on. That’s no small feat when you remember all the murderers in the Close.

The Close is supposed to be freezing them out because of Nat and Georgia's incestuous relationship, but really the rest of them know that the Simpsons aren’t rounded characters but a vehicle for the most controversial storyline the scriptwriters could come up with. Instead of situations arising from the kind of peOple they are, the Simpsons with the possible exception of young Danny, who's a likeable enough tyke tediously react to one scandal after another.

In a recent interview, Phil Redmond admitted that this stOryIine wasn’t working and that the family are seen as unconvincing and unsympathetic. Unfortunately, before they can be written out, Bel’s oft-hinted at big seCret will have to be revealed. It's something to do with sexual harrassment at work, but does anyone really care?

So here's my solution. Pack them off for therapy, where the psychiatrist declares he has never seen such a terrible case of interpersonal co- dependency based on poor self- esteem, maladjusted over- compensation syndrome and multi- obsessional behavioural patterns. They appear on Oprah, while Brookside gets back to doing what it’s good at making us care about the characters.

Far from dull, EastEnders (BBCI) last week went all Tarantino-esque with a bungled building society raid putting young witness Billy Jackson in jeopardy. Wouldn't it be great if they kept this up? I can just see Nigel, who has got the hair for it, declaring: ’You will know that I am the Lord when I smite my vengeance upon thee, right?’ Or how about Grant and Lorraine getting down to 'Stuck In The Middle With You' at the Cobra Club's 70s night? Just as long as they don't turn Ian Beale into a gun-toting avenger. (Andrea Mullaney)



The Client

Channel 4, Sat 22 Feb, 12.35am American lawyer-turned-novelist John Grisham just needs to write a plot synopsis on a napkin over lunch and film producers are queuing up to buy the rights. This time it’s the turn of television, with this spin-off from Joel Schumacher's film of the book.

The Presidency BBCZ, Sun 23 Feb, 7.30pm

First in a three-part documentary series look behind the scenes at the Irish presidency of the European Union. The cameras follow ministers to official functions in Brussels, but also eavesdrop on a rather less formal meeting between Foreign Minister Dick Spring and UK Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind in an Irish pub.

The Clive James Show Scottish, Sun 23 Feb, 10pm

The twinkly-eyed Aussie introduces a new series of his literate chatshow, intercut with his trademark clips of strange television programmes from around the world. Tonight his guests include actor Liam Neeson, and former page 3 model, Samantha Fox, who is preparing to re-re-re-Iaunch her singing career.

Seven Wonders Of The World

BBCZ, Mon 24 Feb, 8pm

New series of films which try to get inside the mind of science’s most brilliant thinkers, who choose their own wonders of the world in a kind of Desert Island Discs for boffins. Tonight Aubrey Manning, Professor of Natural History at Edinburgh University, looks to nature, where he laments the near- extinction of the Tasmanian tiger.

Timewatch BBCZ, Tue 25 Feb, 9pm

A new series of the modern history strand kicks off With a film about the strange relationship between two women during World War II in Germany. Lilly was a Nazi who received a medal for being a model German mother; then she met Felice and fell in love with her. What Lilly didn't know was that Felice was a Jew who had gone underground to avoid being sent to a concentration camp. Eventually the truth came out and Felice died in Belsen, but Lilly is still alive to recall her illicit war-time love affair.

No Child Of Mine Scottish, Tue 25 Feb, 11.15pm

Dramatisation of a true story about Kelly, a young girl who was pimped and sexually abused by her father from the age of ten. When she finally sought help, she ended up in a children’s home where she was raped by a care worker and worked as a prostitute. The identiy of the victim has been protected.

Double Nougat BBCI, Sat 22 Feb, 9.20pm

Kicking off BBC Scotland's new writers series, Mind the Gap is Aileen Ritchie’s charming bitter-sweet comedy which mixes those favourite West Coast themes of confectionery, heart disease and seaside towns. Filmed in Saltcoats, Double Nougat centres on Calum (Andy Gray), the owner of an Italian cafe called the Rasperry Ripple. He is a coronary waiting to happen, and has also suffered from something of an emotional heart by-pass since the death of his fiancee. After a warning heart attack, he befriends a hospital nurse, played by Pauline Quirke from Birds Of A Feather. who slowly draws him out of his shell. 'lt's trying to say everything is over for him and then by the end of the film hopefully when we leave him, he'll be OK,’ says Ritchie. ‘He might not marry this woman; they might go out for a week and never have sex; they may end up having a few ice creams and talking about life. but at least he's made a connection again and knows that he's alive.‘ In short, a couple of scoops of It’s A Wonderful Life.

(Eddie Gibb)

Modern Times BBCZ, Wed 26 Feb, 9pm

The documentary series returns for another run with a film called Mange Tout about the food we eat and how it reaches our tables. The little green pod is followed from the growers in Zimbabwe to the table of a dinner party in Basingstoke, where the guests talk heatedly about whether the pickers in Africa have been exploited.

Love Life Channel 4, Sun 2 Mar, 7.30pm

Psychologist and therapist Dr Janet Reibstein believes she has discovered the five key factors in a successful relationship. In this new five-part series she advises six couples on how they can improve or even save a failing relationship. Hidden cameras in each household provide the evidence of problems, which are discussed in counselling sessions. In short, this is a problem page on screen.



American Noir - White Jazz Sat 22 Feb, 10.15pm (Radio 4)

New series celebrating the work of three of America’s leading crime noir novelists, diving in at the deep end with first-ever dramatisation of James EIIroy's violent seedy thriller White jazz. Set in 505 Los Angeles, it is based round the character of Dave Klein, a contract killer, enforcer and blackmailer who also happens to be a lieutenant in the LAPD.

Storyline Mon 24 Feb, 11.45am (Radio 4)

The first part of Glasgow boy Harry Diamond’s autobiography Can You Get My Name In The Papers? as read by Charles Kearney for Storyline. From his beginnings as a 'half-educated, timid Jewish boy from the Gorbals', Diamond rose to become known internationally as the propagandist who put Glasgow on the map as a European cultural and artistic centre.

Foul Play Thurs 27 Feb, 12.25pm (Radio 4)

The crime wave on Radio 4 continues (see American Noir above) with this new series inviting two crime writers to solve a murder mystery by cross-examining comedy improvisers Lee Simpson and Maria McErlane, who play the witnesses, the suspects and the murderer.

The Essential Mix: Daft Punk

Sat I Mar, 2am (Radio I)

The Parisian duo tipped as the French Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk prove once again that they're not daft and they're not punks as they seize the decks for two solid hours of truly funky, meaty, beaty dance music in the mix. Cool club pe0ple Muzik magazine reckon these boys are 'the band to watch in I997.’

Skywalker Sun 2 Mar, 7pm (Radio I)

Love him or hate him, Loaded-style lout Dominik Diamond is the presenter bestowed with the honour of conducting the BBC’s first in-depth interview with Star Wars creator George Lucas, and fans champing at the bit for the forthcoming re-release will be unable to resist this documentary.

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