TV&RADIO Soapbox

C5 has brought a lather of new soaps to our screens. But will they stay afloat forever like Corrie, or sink like the ill-fated Eldorado.

Like most of the country, I had problems getting Channel 5, but, mindful of my duty, I gazed at the flickering in and out of focus screen to faithfully report on its soapy components. So was it worth the headache?

CS shows two daily American lunchtime soaps. Sunset Beach is a terrible Baywatch rip-off, hunky lifeguards, music video inserts of people running in the waves, laboured jokes and ’meaningful’ silences, it’s all here. Veteran soap The Bad And The Beautiful is the world’s longest-running ’continuing drama’, according to a hilarious introduction by its straight-faced main stars, Eric, Stephanie and 'handsome son’ Ridge Forrester (yes, really). ’And then came a fateful day for Ridge . . .’ intoned Eric, patriarch of the fabulously rich fashion dynasty; cue flashbacks.

Actually, it hardly needed explanation, with dialogue like: ’And you, Eric, the father of my child, Eric Junior, my former employer - how could you do this to me?’ It’s from the same glorious mould as Knots Landing, full of torrid passion, tanned heroes and blonde heroines who all speak complete tosh in insistent, breathy whispers. I think I’m gomg to love it.

Family Affairs, CS’s flagship drama, might have been helped by a few words of scene-setting. You have to make an effort with a new soap, not so much to work out who everyone is, as to suffer the ponderous conversations where characters tell each other stuff they obviously already know 'You know how your father feels about this’ or ’l’m your best friend’ being two prime examples.

Family Affairs opened wrth a less than steamy scene of middle-aged wrnceyette passion disturbed by pesky teenagers playing with their computers, before moving swiftly on to that old staple of family life, fights over whose turn it is to use the bathroom. Set among an unnaturally normal suburban family of two parents, four grandparents, three kids and a large circle of permanently visiting friends, it doesn’t have any immediate sense of identity.

The furrowed-brow adults, as tiresomely real as boring neighbours, and the interchangeable clean-cut youngsters, all mobile phones, disco gear, and very mildly risque, didn’t appear to have enough depth to carry five episodes a week (each shown three times) but to be fair, it is far too early to write off Family Affairs. It’s slick enough, but even when it really gets going it’ll be more of a Hollyoaks than a rival to the Quality of acting and scripts of, say, EastEnders. (Andrea Mullaney)

I Family Affairs, weekdays, 6.30pm, repeated next day at 72.30pm, Sunset Beach, weekdays at 7.05pm,

The Bold And The Beautiful,

weekdays, 72.05pm.

so THE usr 4—17 Apr 1997



Frasier Channel 4, 4 Apr, 10pm.

Back to the beginning; episode one, series one of the excellent American sitcom featuring the former Cheers radio shrink, played by Kelsey Grammer. Bears repeated viewing.

Whatever You Want BBCl, SApr, 7pm.

After failing as a chatshow host, Gaby Roslin switches channels to present this new entertainment show which updates the jim’l/ Fix It format for adults and makes people’s dreams come true. The catch is they are competing against two other contestants with the same dream.

Homicide - Life On The Streets

Channel 4, 5 Apr, l0.45pm.

New series of the excellent Baltimore cop show which gets close to the action with lots of hand-held cameras and fast cutting. The series starts three episodes in because the first two featured a school hostage-taking storyline which has been dropped because of similarities to the Dunblane massacre.

The Knock Scottish, 6 Apr, 9pm.

Another series for the impressive drama series about HM Customs and Excise officers who can spot a suitcase with a false bottom at 100 paces. In the first episode, a consignment of dodgy drugs puts a diabetic in hospital and the boys on the trial of a gang of counterfeiters.

Everyman BBCl, 6Apr, 10.55pm.

New run of the religious affairs series looks at the story of two brothers who grew up in New York's Little Italy, one became a priest and the other an alleged organised crime boss. Father Gigante works With the poor in the South Bronx, but is accused of using his brother's connections to further his cause. A case of life imitating a Martin Scorsese movie, it seems.

Mrs Cohen's Money Channel 4, 7 Apr, 8pm.

New personal finance series with the inevitable maverick presenter, in this case Bernice Cohen who is one of the

country’s most successful private investors.

The Surgery Channel 4, 7Apr, 9pm.

New documentary series about three GPs in a bu5y inner city practice in Manchester’s Moss Side district.

Murder One BBCZ, 8Apr, 9pm.

For many the TV event of last year, Steve Hill Street Blues Bochco's lengthy

Spnnghfll Channel 4, 14 Apr, 6pm.

It's not often that soaps come over all spiritual, but this new Channel 4 drama, which transfers from Sky 1, does just that. In the first episode. the Freeman family gather round the casket of Grandad to pay their last respects; the next morning Pops appears to thirteen-year-old John Paul trying to cadge 50p while he does his paper round. Early on, Springhill establishes itself as a peculiar mix of wisecracking Scouse wit and rampant Catholicism which turns the familiar Oxo-family domesticity of soap-land on its head.

The series was created by Cracker producer, Paul Abbott, and ex-Coronation Street writer, Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Over the 26-episode run the realism of an apparently conventional soap has an undercurrent of something much darker. Since Twin Peaks, this kind of suburban subversion has been all the rage in American series but this is perhaps the first time the same thing has been tried in Britain. Weird, and probably wonderful. (Eddie Gibb)

but absorbing legal drama failed to i ignite the American public, The second i series, which is still running on S'~_v l, has been tweaked to feature riiore storylines, rather a sing!e (vise l'tlllllll‘r’} through the whole series, and also to acc0mmodate the loss of its central character, Ted Hoffrrian


highlights The Glowboys

Radio 3, Sim 6Apr,9.-15pri‘.. il‘e Suridiy Play is a surreal satirical irlrariia hased round a (troop of firtional \.'..;r'i:ers‘ 'i') the Sirrieritan riiii lwar industry

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Modern Times BBCZ, 9 Apr, 9pm.

Documentary abolat the (lift-enrol. wry: in which people cope mth stress a ()l).'7;)l.l8 reasons L)-:-'.iis»arl l‘y wacky comer shop owner who atteriipted Suiierut‘an dire Lant e Dani) anrl Rohar‘. SUICide after a Supermarket orreried Krixxit It'l‘. naho v.'-:;rl; under the r‘iariie nearby, a CiViI servant who hated his Blur. khoard Eraser the play JOb at the 055 and Just (list‘iopeared ' stars Page Shelley front New York’s ayant one day, leavmg a Wife and tililillt'”, garde theatre r "Ill!;)rill‘.' the ‘i‘looster

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I I p I V p TU’K‘X‘i UV) trr‘llTZuVI/i (i: t3 New drama series about a \‘tlnitw'us' they luau-n ..‘.'?‘.'."i ital «7i behalf of un- close protection force are {trilll'xi’l:)tlli“~.1'llfti"i r': ariisafiens, while doubt harder, tougher and task" (El-micro. rvar‘. Sfll 5‘ T.7i='t-r-‘\.‘i"!tt drivers than your ave-rate ril- ‘il :'~;.la'ris l; slum l'a~.'.'r‘. ‘.:"-'er

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Radio ,i.\.".Cin. 7Apr, 9.20pm. Thomas Lynch, poet and undertaker, reads the huriiortius and apparently

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Caroline Aherne is riiilkir‘ii; th"( ‘.'lll( Creati0n of an old lady irltt‘u".'.€>'.'.£?r‘ frr all it's w0rth. Having (lOl‘O the Christmas speCIal, she takes her stud». audience of Old timers to Las Vedas ta: lifetime of ’)l)S€3."./l.".(} the comings and

a three-part series Tonr;i"fl". Guests rriostly doings of ::;tt:ns m his fairiily's include Patrick Duffy, i"a‘.'~f-': t1irtera5lids-reg», 'l s'MT' f :.'.n {hilt/tar: Bobby Ewmg in Dallas LV-‘e '.'.’i"."l