Sunnyside Farm BBCZ, 18 Apr, 9.30pm.

Sunnyside Farm: pastures new for the sit-com format

A student flat? Nah, too Young Ones. A spaceship? Been done. What about a school? Yawn. Coming up with fresh settings for sit-coms must be hell, but the makers of Sunnyside Farm would have been as happy as pigs in the proverbial when they struck upon the idea of transporting the genre from its conventional urban setting to the countryside. Just think of all those sheep jokes for a start.

The main protagonists are Phil Daniels and Mark Addy as Ray and Ken, two brothers who have been left Sunnyside Farm, a bucolic idyll according to nice-but-fatally-dim Ken or '40 acres of hopelessness and shit’

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If The Whole Country Behaved Like This BBCZ, 27 Apr, 7.30pm. If you thought the general election was abOiit two major parties slugging it out for power and glory with smaller groupings attempting to get a policv in edgeways, then think on. There’s a ratings war going on, too

Ever since the BBC and llV first came head to head on polling night in 1959, the network liigwigs have attempted to keep one step ahead of their opponents in terms of style, presentat:on and how best not to cock-up on the big night when results are flO’thlllf; in and your correspondent is on the khan, or your technical \‘Ji'zardry has let you down

in if The t‘v’hoi’e Country Behaved Like This narrator Francine Stock puts it I'l the proverbial nutshell 'Politic :ans are not the only ones to have reputations on the line on poilinr] day for this :s the night tel-rm si‘l‘. {Hi-S tr: ‘.'.'ai'

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Polling back the years: the election on TV

according to nasty-but-dim Ray. It would be difficult to come up with two more revolting specimens of horny-handed sons of the soil. A psychotic bastard of a landlord (ring any bells? Think Alexei Sayle and a well-known student sit-com in the 805) along with a fragrant incomer and her ineffectual husband, provide some subsidiary laughs and an unrequited lust interest for Ray. Matt Lucas (Shooting Stars) also stars as a cross-dressing farmer, although his appearance in episode one is all of 30 seconds long.

You can tell from the off that Sunnyside Farm is aimed squarely between the eyes of that much desired, but difficult to obtain youth audience. The opening credits are filmed in the obligatory fast-cut, Blur’s 'Country House’ is the title music and the characters converse in made-up jargon which the script- writers clearly hope will be aped in sixth form common rooms and uni residences throughout the land. Remember the way 'smeg' became common currency thanks to the antics of the Red Dwarf crew? Sunnyside Farm’s makers must be praying that inane phrases like 'You stupid gherkin’ and ‘I really shaggin’ hate it' strike the same chord.

Still, this is symptomatic of the genre itself rather than being unique to Sunnyside Farm and if you can swallow the clunking dialogue, there are cruel laughs to be had. (Jonathan Trew)

swmgometer, saw his theories go awry in 1964; Thatcher's famous speech (nicked from St Francis 01 Assisii outside Number Ten in 1979 auras caught by lTV while BBC played out the testcarci’ and P/ay Sc‘iiooi’. And in 1992, to Labour's distress, everybody got it 'cirong

Of (Ourse, the iast thing the iriex'iing nation may want at thrs stage is the pc)|iIICiai‘.s, analysts and anchors commentating on statistics, S‘.‘.:-’1(lS and seats or a glimpse into tl‘c’ past with politicians, analysts and coininentating or: statistics, sn'xiiigs and seats

Maybe a touch of Er’er .‘ic.>r: Arriiistic‘e With Glasgwt-granltalian Armando lannucci and his crew will he the ultimate antidote to bar charts and tactical voting lheii only eiettion promise :s to provide and dangerous coverage of al? the least important elements to the day when the nation decides who knows’ Prottialii,’ a 'l‘;(f(~t(l.'l‘f"lil inserted into the skulls Ilit‘ Spice Girls as we foll-.,=.‘.' then: "f > We tut: it"s iBriai‘. Donaldsoiii

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As for channel ‘7,

The Entertainers: comedy duo Tramp and Swank do it their way

Channel Hopping

It's tough at the top. Especially when the top is a contract with Beverley Artistes, agents to the stars of the 700 remaining working men’s clubs in the north east of England. Back in the agency‘s South Shields office, the latest batch of hc-pefuls for a nightlife treading club boards are under diSCusSion in this le, slice-of-life four- part series, The Entertainers (Mondays, Channel 4)

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down a storm, although the chairman and missus are not the happiest of bunnies.

More entertaining by far than Tramp and Swank, are the club committees themselves, entering Euro-summit level talks over bookings and holding grudges for decades over cancelled acts. The Beverley Artistes themselves are too busy playing to the camera to be the real stars of the show.

Also starry-eyed, but for different reasons were the key players in Everyman (BBCt, Sundays), the religiou; affairs series which this week looked at dating agencies who deal with those seeking partners of the same faith. ‘Can I ask, are you Kosher7' said the Sarf London telephonist playing cupid to a Jewish girl looking for love

With Juliet, the Jewish girl from Hendon and Parag, the 31-year-old Hindu bloke, dating agenCies like Jewish ConneXion have replaced the family as the go-between in arranged marriages. Portrayed here it seemed; the natural step in a society increasmgly open to finding love and Iumbers through Lonely Hearts columns What we never (llSCOVClOd was whether the parents feel QLiite so luvved-up about being swapped for dial—a-denomination dating semces.

In The Surgery (Channel 4. i'iloiirl.'iysi, love is definitely not the drug The pei‘iultiniate episode of this hard-hitting documentary series saw us back in t/lanchester's Robert Darbishire Pracfzce on a diet of smack, smack- s:;bstitute i'i‘iethadone and a shopping E.s'. of uppers and downers Dr Mark Liaiilier, this week's GP 11‘ the frame, is :eittral to a surgery which serves some T.ianchest-:=r"s most deprived areas, and ‘.\l‘i:{fl, desprte the usual cash flow problems, has a deliberate policy of taking the inner city's worst casualties, the patients many other GPs 1 Heat lnewtably these are the l‘riifttf‘ils wth a high incidence of both street and pharmaceutical drugs.

\‘vitl: rrioral panic about recreational Ecstasy use at an all-time peak, this non-sensationaiist, inobtrUSivC .loi ‘_lfl‘£,‘llttil‘y’ was a timely reminder that the hidden levels of methadone substitute and ti‘anguillisei‘ use in this country are where the true drug es iEllie Carr‘s


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