Drover's Gold BBCl, Fri 30 May.
Wales has had a media facelift - male voice choirs and mining communities have been superseded by the Twin Town image of speed freaks ramraiding their way into small town oblivion. But just as Scotland can prove there's more to the nation than glamorously wasted junkies Oding to Lou Reed, Wales has more to offer than road rage in Swansea. Enter Wales, costume drama-style.
Drover’s Gold, a new five-part period drama, is about as far as it's possible to get from the sordid shenanigans of the recent hip export (although Dorien Thomas, one of Twin Town's corrupt coppers, makes a brief appearance as an impoverished tenant in the first episode, before coming to a tragic end). This is a Wales of craggy hills and honest working folk refusing to surrender to hardship. And rather than dot this landscape with the more traditional image of flocks of sheep, cattle form the story's backbone.
In order to save his mother and brother from eviction at the hands of their ruthless landlord, Aaron Jones (Andrew Howard as the token youthful idealist) determines to drive the family cattle from his
home in Jericho Valley to London‘s Smithfield Market where he hopes to get a good price for them. He drums up a motley band of trusty drovers and sets off, picking up the love interest — one landlord's daughter and two serving wenches — en route, before running into rustler trouble in them there hills. Yes, it’s a Welsh Rawhide.
‘It was like being in a Welsh Western,’ confirms young Welsh gun Howard. ’There’s a fight in a pub, I get thrown out of a window, fall in love with a beautiful woman and then get dropped from a great height into
the Thames. I had a wonderful time.’
’In a sense, it’s far removed from most of the period
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Drover's Gold: a Welsh Rawhide
drama we've seen recently,’ says writer Michael Chaplin. 'lt’s not based on a book, it's not English literature, it's not all about ladies with posh frocks.
'These drovers led extraordinary lives and the idea dawned on me that there was a cracking good story there. Having been a fan of Westerns since I was small, I thought, here's one on our doorstep.’
The serial may bear the hallmarks of a Western but there’s something of the Twin Town spirit in Drover's Gold too — it will probably be the only time you'll ever
hear the rebuke 'you bastardsl’ uttered in a costume
drama. (Fiona Shepherd)
Moviedrome BBCZ, Sun 8 Jun.
Mark Cousins: spend a night at the flicks with this man in the new series of Moviedrome
Mark Cousms has always loved to talk about movies. Now he’s being paid to do it,
The filmmaker and former Edinburgh Film Festival director has replaced Alex Cox as the host of the small screen’s most eclectic Cinema season, Moviedrome - a development that Cousins admits has left him flabbergasted.
’I loved Moviedrome when Alex Cox did it,’ he confesses. 'I feel a bit like Larry Grayson taking over from Bruce Forsyth on the Generation Game, you know. Quite daunted really. I’m a minor figure after Alex.’
Cox Will still be present, on cellul0id, if not on screen, His most recent movie Highway Patrolman Will be shown as one half of a double bill With Orson Welles's Touch Of Evil.
The new season starts with the British network premiere of Brian De Palma's Scarface, and other highlights include the incendiary La Haine, the little seen Edgar Ulmer thriller, Ruthless and rock 'n' roll comedy The Girl Can’t Help It.
Cousins, who had a hands-on role in choosing the films to be screened,
defines the Moviedrome philosophy as ’excessive cinema'. No change there then. But he hopes the new season will add a few kinks to the established formula.
'The BBC asked me how I felt about the type of films that were in Moviedrome in the past and i said, "Well, this is pretty close to my taste, but it’s slightly too masculine, too macho." My memory of Moviedrome was spaghetti westerns, film noirs and gun movies.
'I said there were lots of types of ’excessive cmema' as well as gun movies,’ says Cousins. 'Melodrama, for example, and farce — both types of film i really like. So this season I think there will be more melodramas and farces. That’s one thing people might notice that's different from Alex’s taste.’
Press Cousins on a favourite from the season however, and he names Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets, a chilling tale of a Vietnam vet who goes on a shooting spree.
There may be more kiss, kiss, kiss this time round, but the bang, bang, bang is far from forgotten. (Teddy Jamieson)
Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America
BBCZ, Sat 31 May, 8.10pm.
On the morning of 16 January, 1920, America woke to what was intended to be a new era of sobriety. Prohibition had arrived. For the next thirteen years, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution denied every citizen the right to sell, make or transport alcoholic drink. Of course, nowhere in the Amendment was it stated that it was actually against the law to drink the stuff, which is perhaps where the trouble began.
Prohibition - Thirteen Years That Changed America, is a three-part series detailing America’s dry years and its legacy; a time that saw honest citizens turn into criminals and criminals become millionaires in their efforts to satisfy a nation’s thirst. The liquor laws ushered in the jazz age, speakeasies and a radical shift in sexual politics; the era of Al Capone, and corruption that stretched from the cop on the street corner, to the inner sanctums of the White House.
Produced by the team behind The Promised Land, the recent series which detailed the exodus of black Americans from the cotton fields to Chicago, Prohibition adopts the device popularised by The People’s Century, of breathing life into history through the voices of those who lived it. Thus we have the anecdotal testimony of still sprightly Ziegfeld Girls and Brooklyn cops, carried by the authoritative narration of Ed 'Lou Grant’ Asner — whose uncle was in fact a bootlegger. Secret histories are thrown up, like the story of Richard 'Two Gun' Hart, 3 zealous prohibition enforcement agent based in Nebraska who kept his real identity as Vincenzo Capone, brother of AI, a lifelong secret.
’Prohibition represented a genuine attempt to better the lives of people,’ says veteran Newsweek journalist Edward Behr, a consultant to the series who has also written a book on the subject. ’That it instead did them untold harm should come as no surprise. As history keeps telling us, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ (Damien Love)
Prohibition: proof that drinking is good for you
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30 May—12 Jun 1997 THEUSTOI