The yellow van has been driving through soapland this fortnight, with crazy Joe from The Square and Don from The Street both off somewhere more comfy for a spell.
EastEnders is providing a handy guide to the psychiatric system these days. Helpful doctors, with time to spare for appearances on breakfast TV, are explaining the difference between depression — their previous diagnosis of Joe — and schizophrenia. No such technical niceties are afforded in Coronation Street. According to Ashley, Don has been taken into a psychiatric hospital because: ’E's off 'is ’ead!’
While EastEnders are tip-toeing around the issue of mental health, Corrie has Don abducting Alma, burning down Mike’s factory and cackling in an evil way reminiscent of a crazy Batman baddie. They’ve been building up to it for some years, since Don's strange attempt to woo hairdresser Denise. And surely anyone who married lvy must have been living in a fantasy world.
Oddly enough, the criticism EastEnders has attracted for its handling of mental illness hasn’t come down on Corrie. Perhaps people just don't expect realism in Weatherfield — after all, where else would the lovely Samantha spend time with an old bruiser like Jim McDonald?
At least EastEnders has made an attempt to show that Joe’s problems can’t be wrapped up as quickly as most storylines, and that schizophrenics are more likely to scare themselves than their neighbours. Whether it’s age or toothsome looks, Joe inspires sympathy, not fear. It's harder to feel sorry for mum Lorraine though. After insisting that her son's obsession with the Devil and unusual bedroom decor (tinfoil and bizarre newspaper cuttings) was just teenage angst, she now whinges incessantly. Admittedly she has reason, but it’s all more worthy than dramatically gripping.
Medical accuracy has never been a feature of Neighbours. To explain the return of the late Harold Bishop, the Aussie fave has resorted to one of those illnesses only found in soapland and Geena Davres movies, where a blow on the head leads to complete amnesia for years and the Creation of a new personality. Sadly, Harold's alter- ego, Ted the Salvation Army captain, is just as dull. Perhaps, like Dal/as, it’ll all turn out to be a dream. (Andrea Mullaney)
Hey Joe: EastEnders gets its head examined
78 THELIST l6—29 May l997
The Simpsons: Bart The Daredevrl BBCZ, Fri 16 May, 6pm.
After witnessing the death-defying antics of Captain Murdock at a local truck show, Truck~A-Saurous, Bart reckons he’s found his calling in life. His first stunt as a professional daredevil goes horribly wrong, however, when he flies off his skateboard and smashes against the wall. But wait till everyone sees the stunt he has lined up for Springfield Gorge.
Visions Of Snowdonia BBC2, Fri I6 May, 8pm.
New series going beyond the picture- postcard image of'Snowdonia, Wales to look at the real people who live and work in the shadow of the famous mountain. Actor Anthony Hopkins, who is also president of the Snowdonia National Trust Appeal, narrates as the camera follows everyone from a mountain farmer to a warden, a mountain biker and a mother struggling to keep her community alive, as they go about their daily business.
See You Friday Scottish, Fri I6 May, 8.30pm.
One for all you hot-blooded Scots who've copped off abroad and got home to find your love looks different without the suntan and shades. The excellent Neil Pearson (Drop The Dead Donkey) stars as lovelorn Greg opposite Joanna Roth in this new comedy series about a couple trying to maintain a post-holiday relationship across 250 miles.
The Fast Show BBCZ, Fri I6 May, 9pm.
Another chance to see the second series of the brilliant quick-fire sketch show starring Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, Caroline Aherne, Simon Day and John Thomson. .
McLibel! Channel 4, Sat I7 May, 7.15pm.
Sheena McDonald presents a courtroom reconstruction of the longest libel trial in British legal history. Over two nights, McLi'bel.l features key evidence from the trial in which McDonald’s sued two enVironmental campaigners over leaflets criticising its policies and practices. Part two on Sun 18 May.
9 In A Row Scottish, Sun 18 May, 5.10pm.
Documentary on Rangers' nine consecutive Scottish Premier League victories, as seen through the eyes of ex-team captain Richard Gough who recently left for America to swap his footie career for one in ’soccer’. Celtic fans are welcome too, but be prepared to cry into your beer.
TV &. RADIO
Wyrd Sisters Channel 4, Sun 18 May, 6.25pm.
Terry Pratchett is a quiet phenomena, his work accounting for one per cent of the UK's fiction sales. Publicly idolised by awkward adolescents and secretly devoured by Tom, Dick and Harry, his triumph is the twenty-strong Discworld series, the flat planet populated by mythical mischief makers, animated inanimate objects and sarcastic dogs. Now Channel 4 has seen the ratings potential of Discworld
Pratchett has refused to accept literary labelling, playfully belittling Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice for its absence of tie-in video games, and draws no distinctions between adult and child readerships. That said, Discworld hits the screens courtesy of Channel 4's commissioning editor for children's programmes and has been made by Cosgrove Hall, the team responsible for seminal 705 series Chor/ton And The Wheelies and, more recently, Danger Mouse.
Melding hand-drawn and computer animation, fantasy‘s favourite witches, Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters has been condensed into six fifteen-minute chunks with Soul Music in the can for later this year. Voiced by June Whitfield, Jane Horrocks
'and Annette Crosbie, the witches’ coven coincides with the king's assassination,
after which point literary pastiche vanishes. Aided by Christopher Lee and Les Dennis among others, witty dialogue marries simple but effective visuals.
It's Not Unusual: Age
Of Innocence BBCZ, Sun I8 May, 10.15pm.
New three-part documentary series charting changes in attitudes to homosexuality during the 20th century. The series starts with ’Age Of lnnocence’, which covers the inter-war years when sexuality went underground following the Oscar Wilde trial and was confined to artistic circles like the Bloomsbury Set and East End alleyways with barrow boys who spoke Polari, the secret language of gay men.
Get In On Scottish, Mon I9 May, 7pm.
Carol SmiIIie and Angus Coull present the fashion magazine. Bursting out of this week's wardrobe are the ’new look’ Pringle (sleeveless? non-woolly? the mind boggles) and Glasgow's best- kept beauty secret (the mind boggles here also). Plus the usual food, fitness and fashion tips.
Doctor Y Radio 4, Mon 19 May, 7.45pm.
The Monday Play is a controversial new drama from Diane Samuels, author of the award-Winning play Ki’ndertransport. Starring Lynn Farleigh and Saskia Reeves, it tells of a woman struggling against her biological destiny.
Radio I, Sat 24 May, 6.30pm. Celebrity DJ Pete Tong presents the first in a series of live broadcasts from the fourth annual Tribal Gathering, reporting the sights and sounds that make up one of Europe's biggest dance parties. As a taster, Tong introduces a live warm-up mix from top UK DJ Nick Warren. Tune in later on tonight (10.30pm) for the first live performance in ten years from Germany's electronic originators Kraftwerk.
Musrc Live 97 — Manic Street Preachers
Radio I, Sat 24 May, 9pm.
The annual celebration of live music continues with this exclusive gig from the Manic Street Preachers — their biggest headliner to date — direct from the Nynex Centre in Manchester. Music Live 97 runs from Wednesday 21 May for seven days on Radios 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Live and covers all aspects of live music from classical to underground house.
Bruce Chatwin Radio 3, Mon 26 May, 9.40pm.
Susannah Clapp, Bruce Chatwin's former editor, presents a week of programmes celebrating the author’s works, with readings by actor Joseph Fiennes. Chatwrn, who wrote six books and became a best-selling author with his fourth, The Song/mes, died of AIDS in 1989 aged 48. Since then, interest in his writing, travels and eccentric lifestyle has grown and a major biography is now in the pipeline.