' b t Wayne and Waynetta Slob eat your pizza- shaped hearts out. THE GRIMLEYS are the tinkiest family in TV history, and judging by those shiny 70s ‘ tracksuits, they really are
from the era taste forgot. Words: Brian Donaldson
It’s 1975. The women’s liberation movement is enjoying its finest hour. sex discrimination is on the statute book and Her Majesty’s official opposition has elected the UK’s first women party leader. In a run—down household on a ramshackle Midlands’ estate. dad spouts forth misogyny. while his daughter questions the inequality of the sexes — ‘why is it when boys do it it‘s being a man but if you’re a girl you’re a slag?’ ~ and his wife dreams of greener pastures.
Welcome to the world of The Grimleys. ln Granada’s latest star- studded hour-long gigglefest scribbled by God Mercurio. the creator of Cardiac Arrest. two families from Dudley. the Grimleys and the Titleys. struggle with the weight of history and fears for the future.
Star-studded you ask? How about this lot for starters - comic Jack Dee is sadistic PE teacher Doug Digby. a role he was born for; Game On’s Samantha Janus is the non-blonde English teacher and Titley relative; Nigel Planer is father Grimley with vomit and peanuts down his front and a fondness for his arsechair — ‘I sit on me arse. not me arms.’ — onto which he punctuates his conversation with a ripsnorting explosion of bottom burps. Oh. and there’s Noddy Holder as the music teacher called. erm. Mr Holder.
The real stars of this show. however. are the kids. The narrative is told by the youngest Grimley. Darren (Ryan Cartwright). through his observations on family. school. puberty. girls and Kevin Keegan. His sister Lisa (Corrieann Fletcher) is known as Marge due to her keen ability to er. spread herself around. while brother Gordon (James Bradshaw) is the bespectacled aesthete — a kind of Brummic Woody Allen — with a taste for the finer things in life and a yearning for learning.
Until. that is. he falls in love with Janus‘s character Geraldine. Meanwhile. Darren is the unwitting centre of attention for Tracy Tongue (Rosanna Miles). who eventually directs her affections towards blokes with cars just at the point
Nigel Planer is father Grimley with vomit and peanuts down his front and a fondness for his
Home comforts: Nigel Planer and the rest of The Grimleys pose for a family snap
when the first whiff of testosterone has tickled Darren‘s nostrils. But there’s something else niggling him — everything’s not quite right between his mum (Jan Ravens) and neighbour Reg Titley (Paul Angelis). ‘Maybe they’re talking about plumbing,’ suggests Gordon.
While nostalgia is never what it used to be. the 70s does have a flair for retaining its fascination. For executive producer Andy Harries. this means exploring the era for personal satisfaction. ‘Ever since I championed Glam Rock as Ents Officer for Hull University. I have been obsessed with casting a big 70s rock star in a drama — and they don’t come any bigger than Noddy.’
And. as with the finest drama. the beauty is in the detail. Jack Dee’s stopwatch doubles as a medallion; Farrah Fawcett and the Bay City Rollers ﬁnd the back of their necks blu-tacked to walls; the show’s graphics recall The Goodies and Spangles. But, above all. The Grim/ms will make you chuckle heartin and groan deeply at predictions of the non-longevity of the 'l‘ories‘ lady leader. If only.
The Grimleys starts on Scottish, Sat 5 Jul.
How Buildings Learn
BBCZ. Thu 10 Jul. Architect king Le Corbusier may be
famed for his line ’form follows function’, but what happens to form when function goes dysfunctional? Stewart Brand, who could be described as an architectural therapist and a new age one at that, has the answers. Publicity for his forthcoming six-part series for BBC2, How Buildings Leam, describes him as heading 'a global business consultancy in scenario planning for the future from his ofﬁce, a beached fishing boat in Sausalito, California.’
In putting the architectural profession on the couch, our presenter delivers a few home truths. According to Brand, Frank Lloyd Wright - deemed ’the greatest American architect of all times’ - never designed a roof that didn’t leak. When clients pointed this out. Wright would laughingly retort 'That’s how you can tell it is a roof'. Brand's one-liner response is ’that’s how you tell it's a failure.’
Brand argues that many architects are superficial - more concerned that their creations look glam on the pages of glossy design magazines than with nuts and bolts practicalities.
'What happens to buildings after they are built? What kinds of buildings work well with evolution, and why do so many buildings work so badly?’ asks Brand, before proceeding to throw a few bricks at the architect of the Louvre pyramid, I. M. Pei. Apparently Pei’s Media Lab in Massachusetts, was architecturally dysfunctional from the start. and Brand’s expose of a litany of problems with the building does a demolition job on Pei's standing as an icon in the world of architecture.
Before you go swapping your bricks and mortar for a caravan though, Brand does offer some hope for the buildings we live, work and play in. Not all architects are suckers for surface good looks, he says. Some even build for people. Hurrah! (Susanna Beaumont)
Demolition man: Stewart Brand on modern architecture in BBC2's How Buildings Learn
27 Jun—10 Jul 1997 TIIEIJSTH