She's got a mad monicker, an obscene amount of talent and the best legs in showbiz. Smash-hit US show Ally McBeal is about to make CALISTA FLOCKHART a household name.

Wo'irs: Peter Ross

RELAX GIRLS, YOU won't be widowed by the Scotland squad during this summer of sport. (‘hances are your normally football-crazed bloke‘ll be sat on the couch with you. tuning in to Ally .Wt'B('(l/. the latest telly smash to cross the pond from l’ncle Sam-land.

Launched in the States in the autumn of

l‘)‘)7. this comedy—drama is set in a case— bustin' Boston law firm. and has netted \‘lCWCl'S of both genders. l‘emale fans identify with the eponymous heroine. a hotshot legal eagle who shines in the courts. but loses out in the sack. .\len may be tuning in for less noble reasons (‘alista l’lockhart. who plays Ally. is

'You don't come across that many roles for women that are written so boldly. You is an can be angry, but only if you're charming at the same time. It's just garbage.’

Calista Flockhart

leggier than a flamingo doing the can-can.

In the first episode. Ally starts work at her new firm. only to discoyer that an old flame also works there. and he‘s got hitched to the beautiful (ieorgia Thomas played by ex- .VIe/msr' P/(lt't’ star (‘ourtney 'l‘horne—Smith. Things get worse when she loses a can‘t-lose case and takes her ex-boss to court for sexual harassment. Just as well the law firm has a unisex washroom to cry in during those dark lunch-hours of the soul.

All)“ .Wt'lft'u/ is the first TV role for

l“lockhart. who was already an acclaimed

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the thigh's the limit: Calista Flockhart in Ally McBeal, putting her best foot forward and (below) as American cover girl

Broadway actress before making the leap to the small screen. She has quickly spun stage success winning a Tony award as Natasha in a Broadway production of ('hcklioy‘s Three Sisters into telly gold. with a best actress (iolden (ilobe.

‘l‘or me. Ally is representatiye of the universal strugglef says l’lockhart. ‘The scripts hit on basic human emotions: one and loss. regret. ambition. friendship. Ally is a woman struggling to get through the day. trying to figure eyerything out. We‘re all in that situation. trying to figure it out.

‘You don't come across that many roles for

women that are written so boldly. Women are giyen restrictions. You can be angry. but only if you‘re charming at the same time. It‘s just garbage.’

The .-\mcrican public is in no doubt that Ally .llt'b’r'u/ is showing them a more belieyablc. less one-dimensional portrait of a lady than they're used to. Media chat about the show has transcended the entertainment press: now heayy-weight maga/ines like Time and .\'(''r'('/\' are analysing its feminist credentials. Depending on what you read. .\cheal is either a realistic snapshot of a

complex ‘)()s career woman or an annoyingly dit/y. wuy Ion skinny caricature obsessed with getting wed and dropping sprogs.

The truth is rather simpler: .Ill/y .lli'lfr'u/ is a bit cheeky. The key to this is that \ iew ers are priyy. through \‘oice-oy er and imaginatiye Visuals. to Ally's inner life. So. when a former loyer suggests a cup of coffee. we see what her mind’s eye sees: the two of them haying it away in a giant cup. Not much for (’amille Paglia to get her teeth into there.

'.ltlst hccatlse All} happens to be a woman. all of a sudden she‘s expected to be this politically correct role model.’ grumblcs

l'ilockhat'l. 'Btlt this indiyidual character she isn’t intended to represent all women. The show isn't saying that all women lawyers are neurotic or Vulnerable or wear short skirts. That‘s just the text Ally is dealing with.‘

Behind that text lurks (1 man. The show is scripted by l)ayid li. Kelley. also known as Mr Michelle l’feiffer and the creator of hits like (ill/('(lgu llU/H'. 'li/Ir' I’I'rlt'lir‘t’ and l’it‘kt’l I'i‘m‘r’s. He is keen to point up the thin line between l5lockhart and her character.

‘I wanted someone who could be strong and weak at the exact same time.‘ he says. '(‘alista was this person who knew exactly what she was doing. was strong. had a point of