Trial And Error Live Channel 4, Tue 8 Jul.

Trial And Error Live: Crimewatch for the wrongly convicted

‘It's frustrating,’ says Stephen Phelps, producer of new crime show Trial And Error Live. ’We spend nine months painstakingly interviewing people one by one about a miscarriage of justice. Two million people see the programme, and someone rings up with new information. You end up thinking, "I wish I’d known that at the time."

Trial And Error, the live show‘s predecessor, has been investigating miscarriages of justice for four years, but often runs into the same problem. A Scottish case, highlighted by the programme in l994, is a case in point.

Steve Haywood, producer of the

original show, made a case for the innocence of George McPhee, a man convicted of murder in the Black Isle. McPhee is serving life for the crime, but after the programme had gone out, the prosecution’s key witness contacted a TV investigator, providing a seventeen-page statement retracting his previous evidence.

'We often get developments after transmission, but TV is a bit of a one- shot wonder,’ says Haywood. ’Before we get another shot in, another couple of years have passed.’

it is frustration at this that has led to the new season opening with Tria/And Error Live, a kind of Crimewatch in reverse. Instead of unsolved crimes, potentially unsafe convictions will be highlighted and presenters David Jessel and Fl Glover will ask those familiar Crimewatch questions of us voyeuristic viewers. Were you there? And do you know something we don’t?

'It will be using the same techniques, but to a different end,’ Phelps explains. ’The main objective is to incorporate viewers of the programme into the research process.’

Trial And Error Live aims to gather sufficient information to convince us of someone's innocence, hopefully evidence good enough to merit a successful appeal.

’We almost exclusively do murders, it is sort of the ultimate crime. We look at people who are actually in jail, facing long sentences,‘ says Phelps. 'Usually they have a life sentence, and because they won’t'admit they've done it, they have no chance of getting out.’ (Stephen Naysmith)


Lust is in the air, with more sleaze down The Street and sex up The Close than a Tory Party conference.

Another week. Another tabloid storm breaks out over Corrie, with actor Bill Waddington bowing out as Percy after a real-life rant about filth and depravity in The Street. Where, where? Perhaps I’m just hardened by watching This Life, where naked gay shower romps are as commonplace as Emily ordering a G & T in the Rovers, but one extra- marital affair laden with guilt-ridden

I angst does not plunge Weatherfield

into hellfire. There has, however, long been a fine seaSide postcard tradition in Corrie.

Last week Dirty Des Barnes returned

from his mysterious cruise waving around a book titled something like Naughty Nights With Nautical Nymphs. Thankfully, he didn't re-eriact any of it, intending the book instead as one last joke on Derek, who doubtless would not have been amused. Then there was fabulous Fred the Butcher, woorng the giddy Maureen With candlelight and foie gras. In a hilarious near-parody of the gastronomic seduction in Tom Jones, Fred Quoted Sir Philip Sidney and Dr Johnson before lasciviously declaring: 'You would be the grand entree at my finest feast. Ah may decide to consume you along with ma mint cremes.’ Poor Fred has the body of Bernard Matthews, the voice of a Yorkshire Foghorn Leghorn but the soul, it seems, of a poet.

74 THE lIST 27 Jun—10 Jul 1997

Sex scandal: Natalie and Kevin give The Street a bad name

In comparison to his her0ic efforts,

dreary Kevin's affair with the sketchin drawn Natalie seems a calculated plunge into adulterous reality to add some ’relevance’ to the show. So far the storyline, far from breaking racy new ground, is just trudging along, with no spark of real paSSlOTl between the married mechanic and his older woman. It’s not really what The Street does best. Now Brookside has its own Mrs Robinson in the middle-aged Bel Simpson. As if only-just post- adolescent Mike hadn’t Suffered enough while facing execution in Thailand, Bel lured him into a night of consolatory lust truly a fate worse than death. 'I promise I won't bore you,‘ she whimpered, which would be a first for The Close's most annoying woman. (Andrea Mullaney)’

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Got insomnia? Heck, don’t worry ~ just sleep on it. A brilliant joke and one which never tires from repetition. But when Channel 4 runs an hour-long exploration into the horrors of the illness, you realise it's no laughing matter. Except that much of Insomnia was darkly comical. There was the narrator from hell, whose monotone delivery suggested that his friends Will never be afflicted With the subject in hand, and teacher Sean Burns who, by his inability to stop talking for a second, appears to deal with his insomnia by consuming one third of the speed in Christendom.

Interestingly, two of the victims, Jane Billsborough and retired miner Joe McCulloch, hail from the same sleepy Ayrshire village and are put under the Maybole Sleep Clinic’s programme to enforce a routine allowmg a normal snoozing pattern to develop. This eventually pays diVidends for Jane, but

Not that there's too much to get titillated about in The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, unless one female arse shot in the first ten

seconds turns you on.

for Joe, nightime still means pacing around in his baffies unable to spend time wrth his long-suffering wrfe.

Smith And Jones (BBCl Thursdays) are back for a 435th series confirming their status as a Great British institution. And you know the kind of people who live in an institution. A brilliant joke and one which never tires from repetition. Unlike the too familiar gags of Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones which centre around attacking a series of piss-easy targets - Food And Drink's Jilly Goolden, and the National Lottery. Actually, familiar is something of an understatement as the Heimlich Manouevre, line dancing and drrvrng an aeroplane like a car were trampled into the earth some time ago.

Gorngs-on of the unintentionally amusing variety were rampant in Jilly Cooper's The Man Who Made Hush-ands Jealous (Scottish) which came to an all too welcome close. Lysander Hawkley played by Stephen

No more Mr Nice Guy: Kevin Whater gets tough in The Broker's Man


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Billington (think Jim Carrey in a walking, talking coma) is a red- blooded male who spends too much time sinking the pink with a series of bored wives and turning their hubbies a scary shade of green. Meanwhile everyone else has been, or is, screwing one another -- aside from Lysander’s portly business partner who at one pomt is likened to 'Toad after he’s been run over’.

Of course, all of these characters only ever exist in the books of Joan Collins, her sister Jackie, Jilly Cooper and any other female trash novelist with the initials JC. Ergo, we have the brattishly spoilt schoolgirl, the ltalian piano Virtuoso, who in moments of angst listens to opera with cardy round the shoulders and Scotch in fist, the unscrupulous record producer and a host of darnsels in undress. Not that there's too much to get titillated about, unless one female arse shot in the first ten seconds and 3 Denise van Outen lookalike in school uniform turns you on. Ahem.

That nice Kevin Whateley returned to our screens as, would you Adam and believe it, an ex-cop in The Broker's Man (BBCl Tuesdays). The genial Geordie's character, Jim Griffin, has turned to investigating insurance fraud, mainly to keep the maintenance payments going. Wife Sally (Annette Ekblom) cannot forgive him for the smell of perfume from ex-lover and colleague Gabby (Michelle Fairley) that he brought to the conjugal bed - 'one mistake in fifteen years,’ he protests.

Even less forgivable is the way his kids end up involved in his work when a squealing mobile brings quality time to a close. Yet, like Fitz in Cracker and Jimmy Wyler in Murder One, domestic strife is never fully allowed to impinge upon professional dealings. In the first episode, Griffin is looking into port container theft in Holland and England. Naturally, the firm's owner is tip to his neck in it, though luckily for him, his tale of deceit may never be told as his frail body becomes the object of much pummelling from a pair of lethal Dutch fists. By the way, has anyone else thought Whateley would make the obvious choice for Stan Laurel in any future biopic? (Brian Donaldson)