PREVIEW Hippies BBCZ, starts Fri 12 Nov, 9.30pm.

Bloody hippies, eh? Dope-smoking,

tree-hugging, soap-dodging chancers.

We know their game, and it’s one best left with the flared trousers and the incense sticks, lurking at the back of the wardrobe.

Auntie Beeb would seem to disagree, With the launch of a new Sitcom, written by Father Ted’s Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, entitled, qUite simply, Hippies. And the cast list reads like a Who’s Who of contemporary comedy, including Spaced’s Simon Pegg and Smack The Pony’s Sally Phillips.

'They’re part of the great comedy mafia,’ explains co-star Julian Rhind- Tutt. ’Whereas I’m just this guy walking down the street, a normal actor type.’ Rhind-Tutt plays Alex, an ineffectual public schoolboy with a love of peaceful protest and golf. Phillips is Jill, a feminist with issues, and Pegg plays her erstwhile lover Ray, the doomed editor of hippy rag Mouth.

'lt’s a very gentle and unsatirical look at a group of people in the 60s,’ explains Rhind-Tutt, dispelling any expectation of arch satire and political rants. ’lt’s old-fashioned, and because Arthur is supposed to be on the cutting edge of dangerous comedy, you expect it to feel cutting edge and dangerous. But then you look at it closely, and there’s no bad language, no grotesque references.’

Gentle and easy it may be, but Hippies is also incredibly, refreshingly funny. The first episode sees Ray and Alex, desperate to impress the self- declared ’biggest freak in the world’, scouring the papers for a protest. They

Comedy with flare: Hippies

find a Sandpaper Exhibition, deCide they are against smoothing deVices, and, placards in hand, get arrested for their pains. ’I wish sandpaper was as easy as Vietnam,’ laments Ray.

Meanwhile, the freak beds Jill, finds a big bag of drugs and goes into a coma. ’I know what the problem is,’ screams a handy narcotics expert. ’He’s taken a big bag of drugs. Freaks just love taking big bags of drugs.’ All hail the hip-com. (Nicky Agate)


Modern Times BBCZ, Wed, 9pm.

‘15 H k {at - I

Rebel hell: Modern Times

Few documentary series have been as insightful, innovative and adept at

- getting under the skin as BBCZ’s

Modern Times. The new strand of programmes have tipped their balance

3 towards the light and jocular - subjects

in the series have already been the

three British blokes on the search for

East European lumber ('To Russia With Love') and a trio of divorcees who had previously been wed to multi- millionaires ('Ex Wives’).

Later topics in the same vein are ’A Passion For Pedigree’, which looks at the devotion of owners to their pooches and follows some as they try

118 THE “31' 4—18 Nov I999

to make it to the mongrel mecca that is Crufts. ’Treasures From The Tip’ is an affectionate rummage through the lives of those in charge of the main rubbish tip in Southend. And ’Strictly Bingo’ charts the tense bUild-up to the Bingo Caller Of The Year, the prize for the winner being a week’s holiday in Las Vegas.

But the film which Will remain longest in the memory is ’Lost Boys: The Columbine High School Killers’. On 20th April this year, two eighteen-year- old male students walked into their school, opened fire and blew up bombs in the faces of their fellow students.

Their laughing, calm and distanced manner was what shocked many. Were they being led by satanic forces (they were reported to have questioned their victims’ faith before deciding whether to kill them)? Were they part of a neo- faSCist group who had taken the school’s motto of 'Rebel' too far and picked the date of Hitler's birth to embark on the slaughter? Or had they just simply lost all belief in their future, choosing to make their names in the blood of their contemporaries prior to blowing their own brains out?

Those are the kinds of questions asked in the Modern Times broadcast of 24th November by survivors, friends of the killers, grieving parents and bemused local cops. Naturally, answers are harder to find. (Brian Donaldson)


Real Life: Burglars Scottish,Thu 18 Nov, IOpm.

The camera pans over a reconstructed crime scene, as the chilling v0iceover announces that ’every day there are 5000 burglaries in Britain.’ Pleasantries Over With, it’s straight on to meet ’people who think nothing of ransacking your home.’

As this is a ’real life’ shocker of a documentary, there's no blacked out faces, no digitally disguised voices, but genuine Villains qUite prepared to tell of their eprOits. We meet Norman and John, self-styled Robin Hoods, robbing from the rich because they're poor. Now at retirement age, the criminal duo reflect on and justify a life of crime ’we’ve all got to live, ain’t we’. We also meet the old dears

Home truths: Burglars

terrorised by burglars, afraid to leave the house, and see reconstructions of their

homes being robbed.

This all-too real Real Life Will have you clutching your lower jaw, while you shake

Doctor Who Night BBCZ, Sat 13 Nov, 9pm.

He may not have looked the same for more than a couple of years at a time (regeneration, the fans Will tell you) but he’s been about a bit. And he went though an array of aSSistants from stuffy army commanders to irritating child stars and kids’ TV presenters as quickly as he expunged adversaries. The Cybermen, the Yeti and those Wheeled wonders of deVilry and universal domination, the Daleks; he’s rumbled With them all.

Suffice to say, after 35 years of jollying about the universe in his trusty TARDIS, the good Doctor takes an evening's SOjourn. Highlights from his illustrious career as time-traveller adventurer Will be aired and, no

your head in general disapproval. (Catherine Bromley)

Regeneration game: Doctor Who

doubt, a few famous faces Will pop up, spouting forth their love for the Doctor. If nothing else, it’s a chance to hear TV’s finest theme tune again. Altogether

now: ’dum-da-dum da-dum-da-dum da-dum-da-dum .

. (Mark Robertson)

PREVIEW Embarrassmg Illnesses Channel 4, starts Tue 9 Nov, 8.30pm.

There’s a scene in the first instalment of this medical series that Will make

' many a man’s eyes water; that of a

testicle being cut out of a scrotum. Plonk in the wastebin it goes. Ouch!

Thereafter, the testicular cancer episode focuses on the sufferers and how they deal With their condition. A young man undertakes an information crusade to ensure others aren't caugnz unawares by the disease, while a radio DJ from Blackpool. is philosophical (or is that blase?) about the state of his gonads. Quite disturbing, however, is the passiVity with which a third subject submits himself to the afore- mentioned operation.

Bringing the illness, which is otherwise not spoken of or IS joked about, into the open Will no doubt

Cancer research: Embarrassing Illnesses

provide relief to other sufferers. But, While the interViewees are candid, the ultimately lightweight Embarrassing Illnesses smacks of false worthiness and unashamed sensationalism. Let’s see what the forthcoming bottoms, periods and body odour episodes offer. (Miles Fielder)