Real Women 880, Thu 26 Feb, 9.30pm.

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.f j , -;;'j , Michelle Collins as Susie: shags the waiter

Big tits, micro mini and blood-red lippy. That’s what makes a real woman, ain’t it? Dream on boys. In Real Women, Susan Oudot’s contemporary slice of working-class life, the reality of dish- pan hands, varicose veins and eau de dirty nappies is an effective antidote to the rants of the famin values gang as five school-friends are reunited.

Inhabiting very different worlds, the women’s only common ground these days is men. And they’ve all learned the hard way what a scuzzy breed they are. Playing them at their own game, the Sisters prove they can be Just as lewd and crude as any lad.

Episode one sees the ageing but up- for-it gals get together for a hen night in honour of Susie (Michelle Collins), a wild child with a well dodgy past. But as her big day approaches, the local Mafioso and her weakness for playing away threaten to upset Susie’s shot at domestic bliss. Meanwhile, one-time New York maghag Anna (Frances Barber) has lost her man and her jOb, while Karen (Lesley Manville) can’t face telling her mates that her lover Chris is in fact a woman. Then there’s put- upon housewife Mandy (Pauline Quirke), who escapes the hellish existence of life With three lazy, chauvinistic sods we a secret love interest. Finally, Janet (Gwyneth Strong) wants nothing more than to get up the duff.

You could be forgiven for fearing the worst kind of Sisterhood excesses from a drama based on a gaggle of mid-life- crisis-ridden, near menopausal women. But it’s a tried and tested formula from which Oudot has created a bittersweet yarn about an engaging, if unconvmcingly disparate, group of friends.

As life's triwa masks a bubbling undercurrent of tensions and truths, the girls’ lust for life is gomg to mean a heck of a lot of dirty laundry Getting an airing. ’We didn’t want it to be vulgar and unattractive to men, but JUSl to be realistic,’ asserts Barber. ’There's an Iron Age notion out there still that women don’t do things like shag the waiter but we do.’ Here, here.

(Claire Prentice)


A new Italian family grabs a pina the action in Albert Square. Meeting new characters in your favourite soap is SUCh a painful time for dedicated viewers. Clanging introductions and dark hints about family secrets clash horribly with more subtle dialogue from old familiar faces. Okay, maybe not subtle, but certainly less likely to fill you in on their whole personality every time they say 'pass the pepperoni’.

In EastEnders, the Di Marco family have been desperately rushed in to cheer up a dull period. Recently bereaved, they’ve moved in with unseemly haste and Will shortly become inextricably linked in with everyone else, never seeing their old pals again.

Surprisingly for stereotype-loving _ EastEnders, the DiMarcos are a very untypical Italian family: they live off Indian takeaways, disrespect their Mama and the closest they've ever got to the Mob is watching a Scorsese mOVie. Naah, only joking. They run a traditional restaurant, have had brushes With the law and accompany every speech With hand gestures like they’ve overdosed on Ragu.

Of course Albert Square has seen a l few gangsters before Dirty Den, he sleep Wit da fishes and sooner or later everyone in the show ends up in c0urt, so they’ll probably fit right in. Perhaps in a few months, we won’t be able to imagine the show Without them,

Highest profile so far are stroppy brothers Beppe and Gianni, Who seem

102 THE LIST 20 Febv-S Mar 1998

Brotherhood of Milan: Gianni and Beppe Di Marco

destined to be the next Phil 'n' Grant, except younger and with more hair. Beppe has already had a showdown with Grant, who came round to complain about nOisy musm keeping him awake. How tame the Wild man of Walford has become. Next he’ll be helping Ian draft a resolution for the residents’ meeting, while a Di Marco brudda makes Tiffany an offer she can't refuse. Mama Rosa, last seen helping Doctor Who With his sonic SCrewdriver, is now looking rather too friendly With George. She’d better be careful they don’t call Peggy Mitchell The Godmother for nothing.

(Andrea Mullaney)



It must be good to talk. The TV schedules are riddled With slots for talking, chatting or chewing the fat. But our late 90s chat-shows bear little relation to those which graced the early days.

Now, any tin-pot media nonentity can ask the questions no-one gives a flying toss about. It seems an age since John Freeman on Face To Face (BBCZ, Mondays) in the 19605 convinced the likes of Martin Luther King Jr and Salvador Dali to lay their frailties, faults and failings before a captivated audience. Later resurrected in the 805 by Jeremy Isaacs, the programme consistently delivers as probing an insight into popular figures as is possible in JUSI under an hour.

Martin Bell and his white sun took their place in front of the shadowy Isaacs as his Journalistic past and political present came before the lens. The structure remains the same: open With the tough questions, hold back for the Freud-like strain of eaniry, get back to the real meat and wind up with ’how w0uld you like to be remembered?’ Rare is the reply which strays from ’some- body who made a difference’. Bell didn't disappOInt.

Michael Parkinson regrettably grasps at a once-glorious past. Saturday nights in the 70s may have been alright for fighting, but Parkinson (BBCI, Fridays) made them Worth staying in for. The photo album opening credit sequence acts as a reminder of Parky's sparring With the likes of Ali, Welles and Sellers and now, as then, the gruff Yorkshireman seems more at ease With blokes.

SandWiched between Rory Bremner and Robbie Williams, Scotland's fifth seXiest man, Ewan McGregor iust about had time to reminisce ab0ut ’tweedy farmers in Crieff' and his rejection from RADA before we realised that any attempt at

Peachy probing: Jeremy Isaacs and Martin Bell on Face To Face

penetrating analySis was being ditched in favour of the ’embarrassing TV debut’ segment and a hilarious spot of Wogan-esque knee caressing.

While Parkinson was born with wrinkles, Garry Shandling aka Larry Sanders, must have been caught in a wind-change at an early age while impersonating a bemused goldfish with a perm. The Larry Sanders Show (BBCZ, Tuesdays) is a stunning satire on the US 805 chat show boom, doubling as authentic talk prog and descent into behind-the-scenes TV hell. For his eighth anniversary show, Sanders cruoally forgets to take a whizz and, for the rest of the show, is foiled in his continued attempts to get to the john, ending up with his pants down on air. Unlike much American telly, the trotting out of celebrities here is entirely justified and thus Farrah Fawcett, Ryan O’Neal and George Segal can try to bolster their careers without shame.

The 90s contribution to the genre has been to replace talking with mob rule. America’s The Jerry Springer Show (Scottish, Fridays) and our very own Trial By Night (Scottish, Fridays)

While Parkinson was born with wrinkles, Garry Shandling aka Larry Sanders must have been caught in a wind-change at an early age while impersonating a bemused goldfish with a perm.

are 20th century coliseums where public figures and regular folks are chucked to the lions. Trial By Night - With a Jury of drunken students and mouthy Glaswegians is marginally more mea5ured, seeking to ask the hard questions while retaining some sense of order. Jerry Springer, meanwhile, revels in the hysteria of an audience apparently rounded up from one big trailer-park who Whoop when the guests cuss and lamp one another.

Perhaps the next stage of the talk show Will see cold, personality-free automatons probing the guests. Then again, With the likes of Gaby Roslin, Frank Skinner and Clive Anderson inexplicably allowed behind a desk in recent times, maybe that day is already here. (Brian Donaldson)