lmposters, outlaws and radge Edinburgh schemies. They've all found a place to hide in Channel 4's latest late-night zone
Words: Brian Donaldson
Ever wanted to break out of that excuse you call a meaningful existence
and change your life? Want to try something a bit different and become
The New York gay club scene’s minutiae and 'robo-mutant club freaks’ make Andy Warhol's scams seem like the Women's
part of your own counter culture? renegade. tv is the latest themed zone of dramas and documentaries dreamt up by the good people at Channel 4, and consists of a series of tales, largely
cautionary, of people who do just that - either by becoming part of a scene or getting the hell out in order to gain some sense of individuality.
In Party Monster, we witness the hedonist excesses of the New York underground gay club scene, where having fun is the only goal. This means consuming as many‘ narcotics, screwing as many people and indulging in as many violent fantasies inspired by gore flicks as possible.
Along the way, lives get lost. In this case it is the life of Angel Melendez, a Iatecomer to the scene who is viewed as an egomaniac hanger-on by clubland's controllers such as Michael Alig, his alleged murderer.
Party Monster is Alig's story. It is told through the tearful testimony of his mom Elke, and friends with names such as Walt Paper, lennytalia, Freeze and Brian, his final lover prior to arrest for the murder of Melendez, whose torn corpse was found floating in a box in Staten Island.
This segment of renegade. tv works in its portrayal of the scene’s minutiae and 'robo-mutant club freaks’, groups who make Andy Warhol's scams look
like the Women’s Institute AGM. The distinctly undramatic dramatisations work less well.
Closer to home, The Granton Star Cause is the TV premiere of Irvine Welsh's dramatisation of his tale of religion, revenge and football, with Maurice Roeves playing God with an Edinburgh accent and cursing like an omnipotent schemo. Turning Stephen McCoIe's Boab into an insect sounds a bit tough but it allows him to reap a degree of revenge on those who helped make that particular day the worst of his life — his mates who drop him from the football team, his parents for suggesting he finds alternative accommodation, his girlfriend for wanting a 'real man‘ and his boss for giving him the elbow. The bobby who gives him a good kicking seems to get off in comparison. With a soundtrack to kill for, the piece is a meaty taster for the forthcoming The Acid House Trilogy. There's a lot of swearing in it, too.
The film most clearly locked into the identity game is Good And Gone in which individuals alter their personalities and, quite literally, become somebody else. Through the views of a lawyer, a private click, a writer and a criminal we learn that the
Good And Gone: renegade. tv does a disappearing act motivation for adopting an alternative persona is often practical, such as crushing debt, or even psychological, when you simply feel like disappearing without trace. And through our intrepid reporter ‘Will’, who transforms himself into Martin Turner, we learn just how easy it is to do.
This short film has the effect of perhaps giving clues to those missing persons we hear so much about, as well as shelling out a few handy tips if you fancy getting out of your life and taking on someone else’s.
Tiger Bay: Cardiff’s gritty new docklands drama
TV REVIEW Channel hopping
'By the time I'm finished there’ll be no chicken in the basket round here,‘ bellows Roy, property magnate, licensee, money lender and local Casanova. Welcome to Tiger Bay (BBCl, Mondays), an eight-part drama serial that wants to be a soap, and has all the potential for scandal, friction and sexual indiscretion it needs to lather up for business.
The setting Will be familiar to anyone who's been down the area known to some misguided souls as Leith 'Sur La Mer' of late. Locals rub shoulders with incoming yuppies, warehouses become luxury apartments and chicken gets lobbed out of its basket by Wide-boy entrepreneurs serving focaccia in fashionable bars.
A Leith-based soap is still some way off though, and Tiger Bay has its home in Cardiff's famous docklands. Here we can kiss goodbye to any images we
dared have left of Taffy miners, sheep- worrying and male voice choirs. And we may as well send a fond farewell to the softly-softly approach of trad soapsville while we're at it
The multi-racial residents of Tiger Bay are a tough inner-City mix of all sooal classes with all the tenSion that brings. Forget the cardboard cut-out demographics of Brookie, where everyone -- from scally to yuppie — lives in the same size of house. This is real life.
Real life however, was never this exciting. By the end of the first episode the natural friction between focacCIas and chicken-in-the-baskets has led to all kinds of jUicy gomgs-on. Sixteen-year-old local lass Jodie (Ian Anderson) succumbs to the charms of 40—year-old Roy (Backup's Martin Troakes). One suicide, several loansharks and a joyride later, you know there's than enough scandal brewrng to have you switching back next week.
Tiger Bay does have its cliches though. Roy is a Wide-boy business man who only stops short of Del Boy
by ditching the camel coat and cocktail shaker, even if he is more successful. Salim, the bigoted BMW- drivmg Asian entrepreneur, is not much better and his wife, who gets one seductively-whispered line about the flavour of her body paint, is the kind of woman more usually found at the end of an 0800 sex-line. Not exactly deep, but then we did say it was shaping up for soapland.
Forty-year-old guys hitting on sixteen-year-old girls is nothing new of course. But sixteen-plus girls making it to the glossy pages of Vogue, as Sarah Morrison did recently, most definitely is. The sixteen here refers to Ms Morrison's dress size, and as Kate Moss and the entire dieting Western world knows, fat girls just don’t do Vogue.
Morrison, as we learned in this edition of the topical affairs programme 30 (BBCl, Thursdays), was plucked from plump obscurity by photographer Nick Night and his stylist. Both were bored of seeing one- size women in magazines, and had finally Wised up to the market of larger ladies (ie over size ten) waiting to be wowed by pics of frocks they could actually fit into.
After the initial euphoria of learning that at least two blokes in the fashion biz think girls with bumps where they should be are super-sexy, we come to earth With a size 22 thump. For those who thought Sarah Morrison was a sign for unskinny chicks to dance in the streets, Vogue's Zoe Soutar says sniffily: 'It’s just a trend. I think it’ll take some time before it comes through.’ And let's face it, she should know.
The good news is that Sarah
By the end of the first natural friction between focaccias and chicken-in-the-baskets has led to all
Morrison, like the world's other shapely supermodel Sophie Dahl, has since made it to the catwalk. The bad news is that this was a potentially brilliant programme squeezed into a single item on a show that quickly descended into farce.
You thought the biggest threat to your home and family was fire or mass murder, but no - it's 'garden crime'. Watch and weep as one couple relate the pain of losing a pooch-shaped memorial tree of their dead dog to a green-fingered thief. Now that’s sad.
Still on the home front but infinitely more amusing is new DIY series All Mod Cons (BBCZ, Mondays). Thankfully this is not another show dispensing useless tips on how to stencil your carpet, but a tongue-in- cheek look at the nation’s obsession with visiting 8&0 on Sundays from the post-war years onwards. Opening with a suitably Cholmondley-Warner-esque figure describing the delights of formica, the first episode chronicled the development of DIY from post-war
kinds of juicy goings-on.
economic necessity to the hippest activity a 505 cool cat couple could indulge in.
Those who worship at the shrine of the Habitat sofa will wince as they watch 505 TV sensation Barry Bucknell cover every panelled door and period fireplace in sight with hardboard. But the handy hints throughout should make up for it. Did you know ironing boards double up as fab cocktail tables? Or that records cut down to size make excellent drinks mats? At last, a use for that pesky old vinyl. (Ellie Carr)
25 Jul-7 Aug 1997 ‘l’llE usriri