Mental as anything: Neve McIntosh and Douglas Henshall in Channel 4's controversial Psychos

Trouble station

Depravity, pornography and necrophilia. That's what the tabloid press reckon Channel 4's winter line-up of programmes consists of. But STUART COSGROVE. the channel's top man in Scotland, argues that viewers are in for a cutting edge treat.

Words: Peter Ross

The people who gave the viewing nation lllt’ ('umomile Lawn. lllt‘ (iruutou Star ('uuse and an uncut television premiere of lx’eseri-uir Dogs are used to hitting the headlines with their controversial

programming. But. the channel‘s forthcoming winter

season has been slammed by the tahloid press. despite being regarded as a return to form by a senior figure at the station.

According to Stuart (‘osgrove. the (ilasgow—hased (‘hannel 4 executive in charge of that 30% of programming made outside of London. a painful period of internal reorganisation has resulted in the strongest set of programmes for some time.

‘('hannel 4 is locked into the new and the emergent. so that requires a total commitment to refreshing all the time.‘ says (‘osgrove. 'You have to bring in new staff.

you have to move people on or they get stale. ()ut of

change comes creativity and the new team are more passionate. urgent and clued-in. so this schedule is livelier. more assertive. more confident and demonstrative.‘

(‘osgrove‘s personal highlight is Queer xls I’o/lx'. an eight-part drama originally titled Queer xls‘ l'uelv'. which follows the lives of three young men having it

large in Manchester’s gay village. l-‘rom the makers of

('rur'ker and ()ur l'rieuils In The Nor/ll. Queer .'l.\'

120 THELIST ‘.<i at»: i998

‘Channel 4 viewers don't want us to be like the nanny state or the BBC telling them how to cross the road and eat their greens.’ Stuart Cosgrove

I’m/k. which hits screens in .lanuary. is cruising for a hruising according to tahloids offended hy gay sex scenes.

‘lior a generation of people under the age of 35. the fact that you're gay is irrelevant.‘ says ('osgrove. 'Surely at the end of the 20th century we’ve managed to move tip the Neanderthal scale enough to have got heyond worrying about whether someone is or isn't gay.

But Queer {‘5‘ I’m/k isn‘t alone in drawing tahloid tire and moral ire. l’svelms. an intense new six-part drama set in the psychiatric ward of a (‘ilasgow hospital. has been condemned for being in poor taste and offensive to mental patients and their families. The series. which stars Scots actor Douglas llenshall (see page 25) and hegins transmission in March.

concentrates as much on the instahilities and crises of

a young medical team under pressure as it does on their patients.

‘I think mental health patients and professionals helieve that television should portray mental health in all its various different complexities.~ says (’osgrove. "l‘his drama‘s representations of mental health problems. patients and the psychiatric doctors and nurses places them as being very. very complex and fascinating characters. All the idiosyncrasies and madnesses of life are not entirely occupied by the patients ~ sometimes it's the doctors.’

()ther winter season programmes highlighted as depraved in the tahloids include ('urouers. a documentary look inside a forensic lah. and the ('ensorship Weekend. to he hroadcast in mid-liehruary. which takes a long hard look at questions of obscenity and censorship and is likely to include clips from the banned movies Driller Killer and ('(unu'lml lloloeuusl.

Stuart ('osgrove argues that. far from attempting to he deliberately shocking. it is part of (‘hannel 4's misou (l'elre to push the broadcasting envelope and let its viewers make tip their own minds ahout what is or isn‘t acceptable.

'(‘hannel 4‘s constituency of people don‘t want to he talked down to or feel that things have been censored.‘ he says. "l'hey don‘t want its to he like the nanny state or the BBC telling them how to cross the road and eat their greens.‘

Box Pops

Celebrity sofa surfing. This issue: Mark Radcliffe. Favourite TV show? Dad’s Army A great (ast, a real sense of time and plate, and in Arthur lowe's ( aptain Mainwai‘ing one of the truly great (()llll( (hara(ters And Private Godfrey was lovely, the ideal grandad Favourite radio show? I don't listen to the radio inu(h, but John Peel played re(ords that opened my eyes when I was growmg up All the rest played retords that sent me to sleep ()h, lest Man ll Speria/ too Favourite TV snack? Dandelion and Btll‘(l()( k and (iai'ner's Pit kled Onions When did you last shout at the telly? last night ‘//(e [be Sex lratle on llV lhere was this tat hloke (alled Rack dressed as a baby, heing breast fed by a prostitute fat h to their oWn, but when his nappy was (hanged and his hits were on show get to the mother and adult baby room Greatest TV moment of all time? lvlanthestei' (‘ity 5 Main hester United 1 ll()8‘)i Who would be on your dream Top Of The Pops? Bet k, Bovwe, Kate Bush Roger Whittaker, lhe Pogues, Men ury Rey, Pan's People, (irandaddy, ltlliott Smith, Motoihead and llie Shirehorses. Favourite soap opera? (oroiiatioii Street Not at its best at the moment hut way ahead ovei the years (onsistently the only soap With humour and the (ontiden(e to drift along on little plotlines ."at‘nei than inurder, rape, AIDS, the plague and alien invasion Greatest cartoon character of all time? ( artoon strip Rupert lhe Bear (artoon aniination l’ingu Runners up lin lin, Noggin llie Nog and (apta/n l’ugivasli If you could be in any TV show what would it be? l)a(l's Anny What have you got on top of your telly? Dust What was the last video you rented? Nil 8y Mouth What's the best ever TV theme tune? llie l’ersuarle/s, llti'.‘./(}Il 6—0 and Matt l) Of Me [)ay

Mark Rat/t l/fle’s autobiography Shoe/business Diary Of A Rot A ’Ii’ Ito/l Nobody is published by St eptre, pm ed [10 He is on Radio 1, Mon Hi, 2 Jpn)