rv Soapbox

Characters have been dropping like flies in Hollyoaks, and the ones who are left show little sign of life either.

It’s been a fortnight of agony in Hollyoaks watching the acting, that is. For all its claims to be upbeat, the teen soap has featured a number of harrowing storylines, culminating in a double death/multiple injury car crash stretched over a week of nightly episodes.

As families and friends gathered in the hospital to see whether Bazz, Ollie, Stan, Kurt and various other clean-cut blokes would survive, it should have been high drama. But the timber-like acting and poor script meant it was just painful. The cast, pretty as they are, really can’t carry off big emotional scenes it comes to something when you realise that there are better actors in Neighbours.

Having set up a situation which could have been genuinely gripping, as the parents of a teenage son had to switch off his life support machine, and everybody involved blamed themselves, the programme didn’t have enough confidence in the stOryline to let it be the sole focus, so scenes of casualty angst were awkwardly interspersed with feeble 'comedy’ stories, which let any potential impact drizzle away.

Yet the show's very blandness lends it

a weird fascination, as does trying to tell the fairly interchangeable characters apart. And there’s one fairly decent actress, Kerrie Taylor, who plays Lucy, though perhaps in recognition she came off worst of all - one brother dead, one injured and a boyfriend who pulled through only to snog another man in the recovery ward. Perhaps Hol/yoaks ought to take lessons from EastEnders, which last week showed how to really make a drama out of a crisis, as the Jacksons faced a kidnapping and flitting in quick succession. Lindsey Coulson was brilliant as Carol, gomg from hysterical happiness to her old miserable self very convmcingly, with the rest of the family trailing along in her wake. She’s a real loss to the programme (as is the lovely Sonia, the most convincing child in soap) and at the moment it's hard to see who can replace her. Somebody will though, because the show always turns out to be bigger than its characters.

(Andrea Mullaney)

Kerrie Taylor in flollyoaks: almost a good actress

82 THE IJST 23 Oct 6 Nov 1997

. tV highlights

Arthouse: The Fake Van Goghs Channel 4, Sun 26 Oct, 9pm.

Major new arts documentary strand that steers away from the stuffy, academic approach with a slick, snappy format and the emphasis on good stories and excellent filmmaking. First up for viewing is this documentary by writer Geraldine Norman on Van Gogh fakes.

Jack Dee's Sunday


Scottish, Sun 26 Oct, 10pm.

The deadpan, dead funny guy returns with a new no-frills comedy series delivering topical stand-up about life at the end of the 20th century, or something. Aided by equally excellent US stand-up Rich Hall, Dee asks the questions that matter. What if you don't mind the gap? What if Ghandi’s parents had named him Goosey Goosey? Except it sounds better when he says it.

Gold Scottish, Mon 27 Oct, 9pm.

The gritty, highly watchable drama series about a group of female prostitutes returns, having dropped the ’Band Of' from its title, but retaining much the same format and familiar faces, including Geraldine James, Cathy Tyson and Janet Dibley.

on side BBCl, Mon 27 Oct, 10.40pm.

Dedicated armchair supporters can get comfier than ever with this latest addition to the TV spOrts arena. Presented by John lnverdale, the emphasis is as much on entertainment as action, with big-name interviews and topical features in a magazine format as well as highlights from sporting events of the past week and previews of the week ahead. Evander Holyfield is the show’s first celebrity guest.

Cutting Edge: Car Trouble

Channel 4, Tue 28 Oct, 9pm.

The t0pica| affairs series steps into the kingdom of the second-hand car dealer, where stakes are high for the dealers and even higher for the public who buy over 6 million used cars every year

Back To The Floor:

Working Holiday BBCZ, Tue 28 Oct, 9.50pm.

Compelling new series that puts your boss where you’d like to see him/her back on the shop floor. The six—week series sees six top managers trade their powerful positions with the workers for one week, kicking off With millionaire director of Unijet Terry Brown, who flies out to Tenerife for seven days back at the frontline as a rep. Watch and smile.

Modern Times: The

Return Of 209

BBC2, Wed 29 Oct, 9pm. Award-winning filmmaker Peter Dale goes on the campaign trail with Leka

~ sexAnd Chocolate

I Dam and M loney induei in Sex And Chocolate '

880, Sun 26 Oct, 9.05pm.

A sumptuous Paris hotel suite. Holley-loads of chocolate cakes andtruffles. Magnums of champagne. And constant digs about skinny supermodels. » .

it sounds like the dream job for Dawn French, self-confessed chocoholic and campaigner for social acceptance of the fuller figure. Indeed. Sex And drocolate, BBC1's bitter-sweet romantic comedy-drama starring French, Phil Daniels and Michael Maloney, was something she asked Tony Grounds to write specifically for her as a study of unexplained middle-aged temptation.

But 40-year-old French resisted the urge to pig out. 'I didn't get to eat too much of the chocolate. unfortunately,’ she laughs. 'Some of it was cardboard, but two-thirds of it was chocolate. The smell of it made quite a lot of the crew sick. but I couldn't get enough of it.’

In the 90-minute film French plays mother-of-three Bev Badger, happily married to school caretaker Ian (Daniels) but tempted by the prospect of infidelity when she meets up with childhood sweetheart Billy (Maloney). He whisks her off to Paris for a romantic hotel date behind lan’s back.

'What fascinates me about the story is that it doesn't have the cliched. wife-beating husband, or a particularly obvious reason why Bev would be tempted to run off with someone else,’ explains French. 'In fact. it felt odd to be having such fantastically loving scenes with Bev's family - and then be running off to Paris for decadent hotel scenes.’

Another riotous scene called for French to walk down a catwalk in a fabulous wedding dress designed for her by Jasper Conran.

'That was a bizarre job to do,‘ she recalls. 'It was a slightly absurd feeling to be dressed like that - all primped up and tottering down the stage in quite high shoes. it felt dangerous but I survived. I'm obviously very skilled at it and just waiting for more offers from Milan.’ (Rob Driscoll)

209, the 6ft 10ins, chain-smoking South African businessman who believes he is King of all Albanians, as he attempts to convince his destitute, would-be subjects that the return of the monarchy is their only hope of salvation.

I’m Alan Partridge BBCZ, Mon 3 Nov, 10pm.

Steve Coogan’s stroppy chat-show host Alan Partridge returns in a new six-part comedy series charting the survival of a man banned from broadcasting for

accidentally killing one of his guests

and hitting a BBC boss in the face with a dead fowl. Expect more of the same.

tranny for, with live gigs from Embrace, Travis and Ultrasound at Bristol Uni, and Gene and Scarfo at Zodiac. Keep your eyes peeled for the rest of the week’s line-up, which includes Sleeper, The Supernaturals, Dubstar, Prolapse, Wannadies, Bentley Rhythm Ace and DJ Shadow.

The Directors

Radio 2, Wed 29 Oct, 10pm.

Alan Parker, Ridley Scott, Woody Allen and Mike Leigh chat exclusively to Mark Kermode in this new series focusing on four of cinema's greatest contemporary filmmakers. First up is Alan Parker, who talks about his early inspiration and films from Bugsy Malone through to his most recent, Evita.

The Team That Jock


Radio 5 Live, Mon 3 Nov, 7.35pm.

In the first of three programmes about famous football managers, Archie McPherson is brought out of retirement, sorry his job on Eurosport, to look at the career and achievements of Stein the SOs Celtic player who returned to the club in the 60s to reverse its faded fortunes.

(Ellie Carr)



Sound City - Evening Sessuon

Radio 1, Mon 27 Oct, 6.30—lO.30pm. Peelie joins Steve Lamacq to kick off the Evening Sessions four-day residency in Oxford as part of Radio 1’s annual Sound City music fest. Tonight's offering is well worth tuning your