PREVIEW Massive Landmarks Of
The Twentieth Century
Channel 4, Tue 21 Dec—Boxing Day, 7.30pm.
’We are two men who cannot act, but argue the whole time. While playing Prince Charles and Lady Diana. No sensible person would do it.’ This is how Patrick Barlow defines The National Theatre Of Brent, arguably one of Britain's foremost artistic comic establish- ments. Under the guise of Desmond Olivier Dingle, figurehead and driving force of the group, Barlow has led a vast number of highly amusing and, at times, educational theatre, radio and TV productions over the last twenty years.
The festive season sees National Theatre Of Brent return to our TV screens with a six-part series proudly entitled Massive Landmarks Of The Twentieth Century which embraces everything from the final gasps of old Queen Victoria to the climactic groans of Monica Lewinsky.
Previous works have tackled such events as the Charge of the Light Brigade, the French Revolution and the aforementioned romance between Chuck and Di in the controversial Fringe 1997 production Love Upon The Throne but, for the end of the century, Barlow felt they needed something that bit special.
'It was very difficult to find six subjects which had enough going on around them so that we could talk about the time in our own ridiculous way,’ says Barlow. 'The Clintons and Edward and Mrs Simpson were perfect as they were good stories. With the Cuban missile crisis you’ve got the bomb, the 605 and Kennedy. Victoria was difficult as there were no real events so we had to engineer it so that the big moment was her death and it was as if the 20th century couldn‘t start until she died.’
PREVIEW The Turn Of The Screw Scottish, Boxing Day, 9pm.
There are certain programmes that Christmas Just wouldn’t be the same Without; Noel Edmonds, It’s A
108 THE LIST 16 Dec 1999—6 Jan 2000
Full of Christmas fear: The Turn Of The Screw
Wonderful Life, the Queen's Speech, a classic literary adaptation and, of c0urse, a good ghost story,
Well, prepare yourselves for a treat, as two of these essential Viewmg experiences have been combined. No, Noel Edmonds is not gomg to be
Massive attacks: National Theatre Of Brent
Dramatic reconstructions have been done before but perhaps not in the Brent comic way: by a duo. Desmond Olivier Dingle and his most able assistant Raymond Box aka actor John Ramm play every character: 'Raymond gets the difficult ones,’ reveals Barlow. ‘He has Marilyn Monroe, Monica Lewinsky and Rasputin while Desmond gets all the Presidents who are much easier and all rather similar.’
The logic behind acting out multi-character stories as a twosome may be dubious but Barlow sees it as a most natural way to work. 'When I was little, the duo facing the world was the great image for me, so it's no surprise that that's what I've done.’
On the eve of their twentieth anniversary, Barlow takes stock of their achievements since their 1980 debut. ’There was an article in The Guardian recently on Peter Mandelson, and his life was compared to a Greek myth as done by the National Theatre Of Brent,’ Barlow laughs. ’I was very, very thrilled about that.’
standing in for Her Majesty this year but Henry lames’s classic ghost tale, The Turn Of The Screw, is set to send shivers down a few Boxing Day spines
Set in Victorian England, it tells the story of a yOung governess llodhi tvlayl hired by a charismatic bachelor to look after his two young charges. Despite his strange stipulation that she sh0uld under no circumstances contact him, she accepts the post. At first, everything seems ideal, the staff are warm and welcoming, the house and gr0unds are beautiful and the children are perfectly behaved.
However, before long, sinister events begin to unfold, She sees the ghosts of her predecessor and the former valet around the house, and soon comes to realise that the children, too, are aware of that ghostly presence. Her realisation that the Spirits may be attempting to steal their sculs leads her into a c0urse of action which has dire consequences.
This genumely chilling tale is an excellent production With an outstanding cast, including Colin Firth as the Master and Pam Ferris as the housekeeper. Perfect Christmas Viewmg (Kirsty Knaggsi
We put TV celebs on the couch. This issue: The Comic Strip.
Born In the dubous Stil‘!’O..‘"Cl‘-"(‘.S o‘ the Bodexaro Theatre 4" Soho .n 1980, .where Peter Richardson 5's: pat Ol‘ ns stand-up comedy snov. and inadvertently neiped invent Alternative Con‘edy'
Anyone good at it? \‘leil, R:k Nid‘yklri, Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer, Pete' Richardson, French and Saunders and the like
Big break Five Go Mad ln Dorset t"e first ever Comic Strip Presents - was SCreened on the very first night of Channel 4 ;n l982 It turned out to he one of the most popular of the se'res Other magic moments Robbie Coltrane as Charles Bronson as Arthur Scargill in SUI/(6’, Mexman stand-offs and wayward gobbing in Fistful Of Travellers Cheques, and the rock 'r" roll extravaganza of the Castle Donnington Festival as it played "0st to those rock demi-gods, Bad News Any lowlights? The flogging o" tiie Bad News gimmick to sorry depths A jOke band With too many yoke albums Mainly telly business then? Not exactly. They managed to make two feature films, Supergrass and the peCuliar political satire Eat The Rich But that's all old news isn't it? Well, yes, but last year saw the gruesome f0ursome reunite for Four Men In A Car and the new year brings a setiuel With Four Men In A Plane. Travelogue comedy? Four sales execs are on the way to a sales conference when their plane crashes in the desert and, Within hOurS, they're driven to the contemplation of murder, swede and cannibalism.
Not so little known fact Lemmy of lvlotOrhead and Ronald Allen aka Crossroads Motel boss David Hunter have both made appearances at various pOintS
Little known fact The original venue for the Comic Strip live shows was owned by porn entrepreneur Pau. Raymond.
Significant others Several BBC comedy successes including The YOung Ones, Filthy, Rich And Catf/ap, and most recently Bottom
Not to be confused with Three Cam In A Fountain, Sunset Strip, The Comedians. llvlark Robertson)
l Four Men In A Plane screens along with Four Men ln A Car and a film dOCumenting the history of the Comic Strip on Channel 4, Tue 4 Jan