As ever, it was the old favourites that made potato- couching bearable in the face of an originality shortfall, while British TV crumbled under the weight of Americana. Frasier, Friends, The Simpsons, Buffy, South Park et al kept us chained to the sofa with only cult mobsters The Sopranos and Matt Groening’s stab at animated sci-fi Futurama raising fresh cheers for Stateside schedulers. Reality checks remained the preferred option for viewers — or at least the programme makers — with docu- dramas (The Cops), docu-soaps (An American Love Story) and plain old documentaries (Modern Times) all filling telly time. Reports of the death of British TV comedy appeared exaggerated at the year’s start with League Of Gentlemen; but then initially inspired blackcom (Psychos) after promising sitcom (Small Potatoes) after potential slackcom (Spaced) all failed to completely deliver. Who’s moaning about repeats now?
Scotland's contemporary art scene fairly kicked its heels with only the occasional stumble in 1999. Glasgow's leading venues — Tramway and CCA — might have closed for Lottery-funded make- overs, but the metropolis' reign as
1999 UK City of Architecture and Design, while not taking the city completely by storm, offered up a busy calendar of events. The opening of The Lighthouse, a new venue for architecture and design, was undoubtedly one of the high points. Edinburgh, not always known for its art show adventurism, became more confidently contemporary. Kiki Smith showed at the Fruitmarket and Gary Hume was the first artist to be exhibited in the new Dean Gallery. Photography had a good year with shows by Cartier-Bresson and the women members of Magnum pulling in big crowds. And if there was any lingering Central Belt complacency, it was appropriately roused with the opening of the splendid Dundee Contemporary Arts in
April. . . The List Exhibition of the Year Portraits: Tete A Tete by Henri Cartier- The U“ W Programme 0f the yea" Bresson League Of Gentlemen
In the running Great Expectations, Michael Moore -
The Awful Truth, Oueer As Folk 1. .
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At last the world admitted that gaming was no toy story. A multi-million dollar industry went into overdrive (rather than mega-drive), occasionally pushing back the boundaries of the imagination, but all too often relying on formulaic sequels with slight improvements. Just like in the movies, scary was in, with the likes of Silent Hill and Nocturne keeping the Resident Evil fans tuned in to the dark side. The boom in on-line gaming put paid to the stereotype of the lonely player numbing his thumbs in a stale bedroom, shut off from the rest of the world. And it was this Internet team spirit that gave an extra edge to the launch of Sega’s new Dreamcast console — although its true potential remains to be seen. The year ended as did 1998: with Lara Croft retaining her crown while promising a Last Revelation in Tomb Raider /V, but making other revelations on tabloid page threes.
The List Video Game of the Year: Silent Hill (Playstation) In the running Metal Gear Solid (Playstation), Pokemon (Gameboy), Outcast (PC)
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l8 \‘ov—Z Dec 1999 THE LIST 23
In the running Magna Brava, New Works by Christine Borland, Mies van der Rohe
It was billed as the year of the literary heavyweights, as Vikram Seth and Salman Rushdie prepared to square up to one another over the Booker Prize. In the event, they couldn’t muster a nomination between them, while South African J.l\/l. Coetzee created history by being the first writer to win the award twice. Of the Scots, Messrs Welsh, Kelman and Warner had a year off, leaving the way clear for AL. Kennedy to reign supreme. She produced one storming novel, a tremendous bit of sports non-fiction and newspaper column inches by the forestload. But perhaps 1999 belonged to Andrew O’Hagan — his fictional debut Our Fathers appeared on almost every award shortlist you can think of, including the Booker, and proved that the male Scottish novelist can be truly gritty without losing the lyrical touch.
In the running The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie, Our Fathers by Andrew O'Hagan, Everything l Do/On Bul/fighting by AL. Kennedy