Strassman Scottish, starts Fri 30 Apr, 10.30pm.

DaVid Strassman has had a lot to put up With in life. 'l’m a ventriloquist and that’s been a very hard thing for me to overcome. Most ventriloquists are so lame,’ admits Strassman, before attempting to allay fears by adding: ’But this is not Keith Harris and Orville.

A Visitor to our shores for the first time in 1996, for a critically acclaimed run of his stand-up show at the Edinburgh Festival, Strassman has now returned. This time, he graces the small screen With his own eponymously titled show: 'It takes the concept of the chat show Just a little bit further.’

A mix of stand-up and personality interView, Strassman is Joined in each show by his puppet cohorts Chuck Wood, a gutter-mouthed American descendant of Lord Charles and Ted E Bare, a nice‘but-dim, mildly paranOid teddy bear. Weekly appearances are also made by Strassman's ’musical director’ and one-man house band Daniel Rosen, who sits, surrounded by banks of keyboards and computer screens, pumping out a live electronica soundtrack.

The show sees various personalities go through the mill, enduring the wrath of three-foot, foul-mouthed terror, Chuck. ’I give Chuck the appearance of being a separate entity from me so every single guest was forced to relate with him, deal With him, and answer him,’

Some fare better than others. Food

REVIEW The Real Peter Mandelson

Channel 4, Sun 25 April at 1r at a

PM gone?: The Real Peter Mandelson

Before he resigned from the cabinet in December last year, Peter Mandelson was the closest his party had to a Margaret Thatcher. That's not to say he shared Thatcher’s Vision of Britain New Labour's Similarity to the Conservatives is colossally overstated. Rather, Mandelson absorbed all the non-speCific disappOintment that the people felt towards his party while simultaneously being lauded as a political intellectual, a moderniser and a man who can get things fixed. His public image was pitched somewhere between Jimmy SaVille and Kaa the snake from The Jung/e Book.

Yet, Mandelson is far more interesting than Thatcher. While she was all

THE “ST 29 Apr—13 May 1999

Lame Chuck?: Strassman

and Drinks Jilly Goolden is incredibly wary and gets off lightly, while racing pundit John McCririck goes head-to- head with Chuck and comes off second best, by some way. 'He's a crazy bloke anyway one of life’s eccentrics' reckons Strassman.

Future guests include Michael Winner, Max Clifford and an excluSive interView With famed chopper—chopper Lorena Bobbitt, whom Chuck ineVitably asks: “Cut off any good dicks lately?" ’I have the ability to say anything through Chuck,’ concludes Strassman. ’He asks the questions that we all Wish we could ask.’ (Mark Robertson)

ruthless idealism and no soul, Mandy has a soft centre that would make Swiss chocolates melt With Jealousy. He is a bastard With sugar on top. It is this dichotomy that Donald Maclntyre, political commentator of The Independent and author of a new biography on the politiCian, explores in The Real Peter Mandelson.

This comprehenswe documentary featuring contributions from the likes of Neil Kinnock, Tom Sawyer and DaVid AaranOVitch sees Mandelson compared to both Satan and Eric Cantona as it charts his rise from precocious child With a legendary grandfather (Herbert Morrison, a key figure in the post-war Labour Party) to talented political spin doctor engineering Labour’s first election Victory in sixteen years, and his fall as whipping-boy for the discontented left Wing,

The key question posed by this programme is whether Mandelson eased Gordon Brown aside for the leadership in faV0ur of Tony Blair in the CTUClaI days followmg John Smith’s death. Maclntyre, who was working as a lobby correspondent at the time, suggests that Mandelson realised Blair w0uld Win, but did not contribute to his Victory.

Maclntyre also puts the case that Mandelson will rise to the top again, and has his belief endorsed by no less a figure than Neil Kinnock. Perhaps the Journalist Will be back on our screens in twenty years, telling the sec0iid chapter of this fascinating story.

(Peter Ross)


South Park Channel 4, starts Mon 3 May, 9pm.

It's jUSI another manic Monday as the adult animation which Matt GTOC‘Hlllg won't let his kids watch returns With a special themed night before launching into series two.

The new episodes include guest appearances from Saddam Hussein, Charlie Manson and Ozzy Osturne as the barbaric quartet fart, curse, eat and die their way through the summer As a bad faster, you can sample two episodes, the one where the ubiquitous Chef is literally bailed out by a bunch of rock stars and Johnny 'OJ' Cochrane and the one

where Cartman 7- the original Flat Eric »-

Cheesy yoofs: South Park

has a satellite dish sprout from his ass, Kyle's kid brother Ike is abducted by aliens

and cows start turning themselves inside out.

There's also a look behind the scenes documentary in the company of creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and a rare sliowing of their full-length feature Cannibal! The Musical. Sweet. (Brian Donaldson)


Sir Bernard's Stately Homes

BBC2,Wed l2 lVlay, 10.20pm.

RaVing queen Sir Bernard Chumley (Matt Lucas) and dodgy criminal-type geezer Anthony Rodgers iDaVid Walliams) tOur the c0tintry's stately homes in a highly comedic fashion, trailing murder and mayhem in their wake.

As a bizarre subplot, the two are caught up in a treascire hunt sponsored by Allen's Crisps —- ’At last, a crisp for straights and gays alike' -- to find the Golden Potato and Win a year’s supply Among the homes Visited during the c;0urse of the six- part series are Bronson House, Princess Anne's residence, where we are treated to the Sight of Chumley and Rodgers dressed in Her Royal Highness's dresses.

Crisp delivery: Sir Bernard's Stately Homes

The pair's favourite episode occurs Within the grOunds of Kendel Park since they got to play on the theme park all day, dressed as cubs no less Among the faces making guest appearances are Rowland Rivron, Jools Holland and Julie T. Wallace.

(Kirsty Knaggs)


New Britain On The Couch

Channel 4, starts Sun 9 May, 8pm.

'You've never had it so good ' Harold Macmillan’s well-worn words of 1957 heralded the birth of consumerism The two million Britons reportedly guzzling Prozac and other ’drugs of solace' in 1999 may disagree Psychologist Oliver James tries to find out what went wrong, placing the focus on high achievers as they pursue perfection This isn’t designed to make the rest of us feel even worse but, rather, he attempts to uncover the

Prozac nation: New Britain On The Couch

psychological state of a// technologically advanced cultures 'The key to understanding the depression of society is to unlock why some of its Wrnners feel

like losers.’ James believes

The test cases include a Prozac~swa|lowing career woman and the Edinburgh family of an exceptional Oxford student who committed stirride James’ premise, that such phenomenal dissatisfaction has only been eVident since the 50s, leads him to the mass manufacturing of a ’Wannahe' world in which salary increases don't prevent recipients from almost killing themselves (Alison Chiesa)