Religious mania is sweeping through soap-land, whidi means the usual mix of wild hair and wild-eyed stares, with the added bonus of a honking bishop.

It had to happen sooner or later, but it's a disappointment all the same. Paragraph 12, in the secret laws of soapdom, clearly states that any religious group in a soap should be composed of assorted naive teens, one regular character who's suffered past trauma and, of course, a power-crazed loon who quotes from the Bible frequently but still wants to get off with every woman in sight.

A classic example of this rule was Spooky Simon’s suburban cult in Brookside (Channel 4), some time ago. Katie and tragic Terry got caught up in his web, and though they survived, neither have had a half- decent storyline since. Perhaps Terry’s recent disappearance from the soap was caused by memories of the unfolding story of Sarah Hills, the earnest young Christian in EastEnders (BBC1).

Sarah joined the God-botherers quite a while ago, but despite boycotting the local nightclub and handing out leaflets, it seemed almost as if that was it. Was it possible, could they just be normal people?

Nah, of course not. Guru Alistair has grown his hair suspiciously long (another rule; all mad people in soaps have funny beards or haircuts) and been seen snogging his disciples in secret. It can be only a matter of time before he starts talking about the Apocalypse and rolling his eyes at Sarah.

All other soap characters immediately regard anyone religious with extreme suspicion. Perhaps they've been watching Revelations (Scottish), which was shown a couple of years ago in some ITV regions down south to great hilarity, and has now turned up in the old Prisoner - Cell Block H slot.

There's a bishop, who’s been having it off with his secretary; his son, a heroin addict whose mum has to give him the injections; one daughter with marriage troubles and another who's insufferably perky - but not for long, one feels.

The action is painfully slow, but it has some hilarious dialogue. As for the acting . . . well, if they ever decide to revive Crossroads, they needn’t bother holding auditions. If the Church of England issued fatwas, all concerned with this load of old cassocks would be in hiding. (Andrea Mullaney)

Test of faith, Eastenders’ Sarah and Alastair

82TI'IE HST 7-20 Mar 1997



Cosi Fan Tutte BBCZ, 8 Mar, 7pm

Live and direct from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden comes Jonathan Miller's production of the Mozart opera about love, sex and betrayal in Neapolitan society. The production has a contemporary setting with costumes by Georgio Armani, who is interviewed along with Miller in a special interval feature on the production.

Deacon Brodie BBC1, 8 Mar, 9.20pm

Old Town romp down the closes of Edinburgh, in Simon Donald's adaptation of the legendary story about a town councillor on the take. Billy Connolly plays the Deacon as a ribald womaniser with a soft heart, while Catherine McCormack, last seen as Mel Gibson's childhood sweetheart in Braveheart, is his mistress.

The Clive James

Formula One Show Scottish, 8 Mar, 9.55pm

After snatching the Grand Prix television rights along with Murray Walker from the BBC, ITV is making a fuss about the new season with a themed evening, starting off with Clive James talking to the leading drivers in front of a celebrity audience. Live coverage of the Australian Grand Prix starts at 2.1 Sam.

The Simpsons

BBCZ, 10 Mar, 8pm

After being chased from its Saturday teatime slot by the sugary Sabrina: The Teenage Witch, Americans' favourite cartoon family return to our screens at a more adult-friendly time, with a second episode on Fridays at 6pm. It never was a kids’ show anyway.

Loved By You

Scottish, 10 Mar, 8.30pm

John Gordon-Sinclair stars in a new sitcom about newly-weds trying to balance busy schedules while trying to keep the magic of their relationship alive. A neurotic sister and laddish best mate are intent on ensuring the couple are deprived of quality time together.

Dunblane: Remembering Our Children

Scottish, 12 Mar, 9pm

A television producer who was brought up in Dunblane worked with the families of the children who died to produce this documentary which reveals how a community has come to terms with the primary school massacre, whose first anniversary is tomorrow.

A Cook On The Wild Side

Channel 4, 13 Mar, 8.30pm

Current Channel 4 favourite, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall returns for another series of the cookery show which goes back to nature in search of ingredients for the pot. In the first programme, our double-barrelled host

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samples tree-sap wine and is instructed in the art of crayfish catching.

The Call Of The Sea BBCZ, 15 Mar, 8.05pm

New six-part documentary about the histOry of Britain as a sea-faring nation in the first half of this century with archive film and accounts from people who lived on, by and from the ocean.

Family Money Channel 4, 16 Mar, 9pm

New four-part drama based on Nina Bawden's novel about a widow in her 605 whose family tries to encourage her to sell her house move into a nursing home after she is mugged. Claire Bloom is the widow, with June Whitfield as her faithful housekeeper.



Daydream Believers Radio 2, Sat 8 Mar, 5.03pm.

Hey hey they‘re The Monkees, and they're still hangin' around. Brian Hayes looks at the evolution of the cheeky 6OS-style boy band which was created by the Americans to rival The Beatles and whose members, Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith, are currently touching up their grey hairs for a comeback tour. The TV show, launched in September 1966, is of course a fond memory and we can all sing the chorus of Daydream Believer but, wonders Hayes, will that old Monkees magic still be there? See Frontlines, page 2.

Beat Patrol With Peter Easton

Radio Scotland, Sun 9 Mar, 5pm Pete Easton's teatime show gives a

chance to hear Glasgow band Adventures In Stereo whose beautifully swoonsome Io-fi 605 sound has been earning them loads of good press

lately. Jim Beattie and Judith Boyle of the band, signed by local label

Creeping Bent, originally recorded this -' session for John Peel.

Traditional Music - Songs From A Country

Called Spam

Radio 3, Sun 9 Mar, 11.15pm.

New series on traditional music around the world presented by Edinburgh Book Festival director Jan Fairley. Swapping printed page for the clickety-click of flamenco heels, Fairley travels to Spain in the first programme, where she discovers that traditional forms flourish and the village is still central to musical life. Featured is Maria Del Mar Bonet, who sings in Mallorquin and is one of the most popular artists in modern Spain.

Utopia And Other Destinations

Radio 4, Sat 15 Mar, 6.50pm.

Ian McEwan, author of The €0me" Of Strangers, Black Dogs and The Innocent, gives his personal vision of what life would be like a perfect world, in this new series exploring the enduring theme of Utopia.

The Evening Session Radio 1, Thurs 20 Mar, 6.30pm.

Steve Lamacq presents an exclusive mix from the mighty Chemical Brothers as part of Radio 1's Listen Without Prejudice campaign. The producers, DJs and remixers who dispense depth-plumbing slabs of heavy dance beats, sold 140,000 copies of their debut album in the UK and are residents at London’s Heavenly Social where they play to capacity crowds each week.