Dock of the bay
If Twin Town didn't put paid to the image of leek- chewing Taffys, BBC Wales new multi-racial Cardiff docklands drama Tiger Bay Will. Words. Rob Driscoll
It’s a gritty, sexy, multi-racral melting pot of a soap opera - and it’s even got its own Spice Girl.
In the opening scene of the first episode. a 40-year-old man leads a sixteen-year-old girl to the bedroom. Ten minutes later, another woman is enticing her lover vvith passion fruit body paint.
But the makers of Tiger Bay, BBC Wales's ambitious new eight-part serial for the network — filmed entirely around Cardiff Bay’s millennium waterfront - reckon this is far more than iust another gimmick-led, trendy soap It is, they say, the first real popular dramala; study of the day-to- day life of a British mixed-race community
(Ci-Scripted by Rob Gittiris, who kept EastEnders fans on tenterhooks while writing David Wicks's departure scene, Tiger Bay aims to reflect the ever- changing community lifestyles of a 90s docklands envrronment where earthy, born-and-bred locals of varying skin hues rub shoulders With yuppie professionals
The tabloids have already had a field day with 'Tiger Spice' Jan Anderson, the upfront 22-year-old Porthcawl-born actress who plays precocious sixteen- year-old temptress Jodie Monks, and her on—screen affair with hard man Roy Hutchinson (Backups Martin Troakes) who’s old enough to be her father (and could well turn out to be her uncle).
But away from such juicy tittle-tattle, which its producers concede helps sell the series to an already soap-saturated viewership, Tiger Bay (with its dream post-EastEnders slot on Monday nights) could be seen as a Significantly important, breakaway drama. It is the first representation of contemporary urban Wales for network teleViSion.
‘We haven't had much luck over the past f0ur years getting English- speaking, BBC Wales-produced drama onto the network,’ says ever- contentious film-maker Karl Francis, Tiger Bays executive producer and until recently BBC Wales head of drama.
’I really believe that Tiger Bay is an important view of British life that's wholly original,’ Francis says. Like most black communities in Britain, Cardiff’s Tiger Bay area — better known today as Butetown
'Like most black communities in Britain, Cardiff's Tiger Bay area has been largely ignored by the media’ Karl Francis,
From cradle-snatching to grave: 'Tiger Spice' Jodie and her older lover Roy in BBC
has been the fantastic co-operation with the local people of Cardiff Bay. No one bothered reporting that series consultant Pedr Jones and assrstant producer Maggie Russell set up workshops in the community to integrate local people with the production of the serres.’
It’s all certainly a million miles
— has been largely , , from Drover’s ignored by the genes pmducer' “99’ Bay Gold, 0r Pobo/ Y media. Cym, BBC
’But now, with the new docklands development, it’s a thriving, vital area of humanity that lends itself naturally to fresh, modern drama. Something else ignored, or even twrsted by the press,
Wales's cosy, home-grown, Welsh- language soap for SAC. Danny Chang’s reggae—based theme tune almost begs to be released as a single, the series is shot on film as opposed to Video, givrng
'2 r ,' I
TV REVIEW Channel
The results of a recent Teletext poll suggested that an overwhelming number of Viewers ie five out of the six who called, probably -- felt they were being fed too many cop shows from home and abroad So what better antidote to all these fake rozzeis than to see some real rozzers in action? Murder Squad (Scottish, Tuesdast is a real blood-ori-the-=.vall docurrientary series
66 THE lIST ll )4 Jul 199/
Friends: the jury’s out on those perfect pals
‘\ " , ” 52
It kicked off With the appalling tale of two teenage girls led to a flat in west London in 1994, where they were raped, bitten and knifed, unaware that the mutilated bodies of an elderly ASian couple lay in the next room
No~one could possibly have switched on belieVing they were tuning into a new police fiction. After all, nobody shouted at each other, no sexual tension crackled between colleagues and Cockney rhyming slang was not at a premium -- the closest was a sergeant announcrng, 'l’ll get on the blower.’ Indeed, so softly softly were these bobbies, you got the feeling they must
have given all those bad apples the month off.
The real demons were, gue/le surprise, the media. Each five minute period seemed punctuated by a local or national news update as the press sought to accentuate the macabre, gory and Vile.
Talking of which, a new series of Friends (Channel 4, Fridays) is here Unbridled Joy and mass copulation in the streets as the nation reiOices. Alternatively, here is a sextet whom many would like to see as subjects iii a future edition of Murder Squad
In the hilarious opening salvo of the
current cycle, Phoebe Camilla was on the metamorphosed
between kooky, ditsy and dizzy, Monica, out of love and into Cigars, perked up at the appearance of Elliott Gould; Joey attempted to break up Chandler’s relationship and Rachel indulged Ross’s Princess Leia fantasy From this throat came one laugh and some unpleasant retching. The most interesting thing abOut the half-hour were the contents of the ad break which should end the debate that Friends is not fundamentally a girlie show ~ L’Oreal, Wella, Minx and that Diet Coke one where the office girls ogle at some beefcake wrth his top off. Prince Charles could never be described as a beefcake but mince-for- brains was the subtext of Channel 5’s Camilla. Until now, Mrs Parker-Bowles
scene long before Diana had thrown up her first crate of Mars Bars
Wales's new prime-time drama
it a stylish, almost cinematic feel, and the likes of its two chirpy sixteen-year- old heroines, Jodie Monks and Kim Jarret can give our Bianca ’n’ Tiff, or Fiona 'n' Maxine, a run for their money any day.
For Rob Gittins, Cardiff Bay’s natural melting-pot community provides the perfect baSis for sassy contemporary drama. But, he says: ’What’s important is that race is not an issue in this series; the multi-raCial cast is Simply a true reflection of that society.
’The stories and actors have inflections and attitudes to life that are peculiarly Cardiff, but their situations will be recognisable to anyone livmg in a large modern city.’
Tiger Bay starts on BBC1, Mon 21 Jul, 8.30pm.
has been seen as the wicked witch Snatching the lovely princess's surtor from under her substantial nose. The truth is that Camilla was on the scene long before Diana had thrown up her first crate of filars Bars, and that both she and Chuck appear to have an infidelity gene Carnilla’s great-gran put it about wrth Edward VII, while Edward Vlll's dailiances with an American called Mrs Simpson brought the nation to a collectne 'doh'
In Camilla's defence are a string of toffs claiming she is ’Vivacrous' 'sensuous' 'funny' and ’very sexy’ (.7) while the public over whom she may eventually reign pelted her with bread rolls in Sainsbury - no doubt inspired by headlines SUCh as ’Diana Calls Camilla The Rottweiler’ and the furore of the Sguidgy tapes. Through all this, Charles is the blustering fool who failed to put his true love down, leavmg her to wed his polo pal while gorng through a string of eligible debs until a certain mouse roared his way.
Through it all, the programine-makers seemed unclear whether they wanted to make a Hello esgue trawl through the fox hunts and polo lawns of merry Old England or a lr‘v’or/d In Action report - jUSi who was the mysterious woman on the Royal Train? When did Charles and Camilla first hump? And is it something you’d want to contemplate on a full stomach7 (Brian DonaldSOn)