Channel 4, starts Thu 13 Jan, part of 4 Later.
Think conspiracy theories and the deaths of Marilyn, JFK and Diana may spring to mind. Or perhaps the kidnapping of aliens in America. Or the government putting mild relaxants in the water system to annul our desire to stir revolution.
These are merely the tip of a hidden news story, dissid- ent politics and underground (sometimes literally) counter culture iceberg which appears on the Disinformation website (www.disinfo.com). The site is edited by Richard Metzger who, perhaps oddly for a conspiracy theorist, doesn't actually believe in conspiracy theories and can see their imminent demise.
‘I think we'll look back on them as a peculiarly 90$ thing,’ says the self-confessed information freak. 'It came as a direct result of the Reagan administration‘s active repression of some stories and the internet, but now it's really hard to keep a secret.’
Metzger's interest in looking behind and beyond the news headlines was sparked by his experience in working on the Jerry Brown Presidential campaign. Running for the Democratic nomination against Bill Clinton in 1991, Brown was by far the most radical candidate. Yet, the impact he was having on the public was being quietly suppressed. 'I wouldn’t say it was a conspiracy but it was pretty eye-opening to see that his rallies, which had around 10,000 people attending, were reported as though there were 300 people there.’
And so Metzger took his new-found scepticism onto the web, taking up the copyright of a site initially developed by Oliver Stone and funded by cable giant
Peake inherits the earth: Gormenghast
News radical: Richard Metzger
TeleCommunications Inc. They pulled out less than a month after its launch, clearly spooked by the radicalism of it all. Metzger was then free to circulate all manner of alternative information, with the site now attracting over one million hits a month.
The TV show brings you some of the weird, wonderful and less than wonderful individuals and groups which have been drawn to his attention. The late rebel LSD philosopher Timothy Leary, genetics theorist Howard Bloom and one of the rave movement's pioneers Genesis P-Orridge are all dissected. For those who preach doomgloomery about the side effects to alternative viewpoints, Metzger sees only one branch to fear.
‘What is dangerous is when people get involved with cult-like behaviour. There are a lot of wolves out there who just want to control the minds of susceptible kids and get six-hour tantric hand-jobs. Now, that’s dangerous.’ (Brian Donaldson)
The idiosyncratic nature of Peake's novels have confounded filmmakers in the past. Comparisons are often made with The Lord Of The Rings but Peake's fantasy is more Victorian Gothic than sword and sorcery. Kingdoms rise and fall in Tolkien's world but in Peake's universe, a soap opera of court intrigue unwrnds throughout the halls and towers of the vast, sprawling castle of Gormenghast.
'You couldn’t possibly squeeze that entire story into a two-hour frlrn, and televrsion is more character-driven,' states director Andy Wilson, arguing for small screen adaptation, ’Here is an extraordinary gallery of characters almost wrthout parallel in English literature.’
Wilson has assembled an inspired cast: Christopher Lee, Richard Griffiths, John Sessions, lan Richardson, Stephen Fry, Warren Mitchell, Zoe Wanamaker, Fiona Shaw, Spike Millrgan, Eric Sykes
Gormenghast BBCZ, starts Mon 17 Jan, 9pm.
If Ulysses is the great unread novel, Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast is the great unfilmed one. Various versions have been in development for years,
but none of them made it onto the big screen. When Sting and Terry Gilliam’s attempt collapsed, the ex-Police singer got to play his favourite literary character, Steerpike, in a BBC radio adaptation. Now Auntie Beeb has had another bash and, at long last, Gormenghast has reached teIeVision.
and Gregor Fisher are all in there The leads are taken by Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the Machiaevellian Steerpike with Neve McIntosh as Lady Fuchsia.
Fans of the books can rest assured. no detail is overlooked and no expense spared to do Peake's uniquely eccentric vrsron jUSthe. (Miles Fielder)
We put TV celebs on the couch. This issue: Tessa Peake-Jones
Best known for Her role as Raguel iborn Rat hel Slaterl, the very long- stifreniig mile of Del Boy, in Only Fools And Horses, one of the BBC’s longest ltillllllltl and most-loved comedies Any catchphrases? Nigh on every \‘treek, she would be heard to yell,
st ream or hair ’don't ever come near me again, lrotter "
Also known for She starred alongside Ray \Vinstoire in last year's Jet black corrredy Births, r‘ylar/rages Arid Deaths Public persona faith mother She has sc reen kids oo/ing out of her, from Damien in Only loo/s And Horses to her 28-year-old offspring in Births, A/lar'rages And Deaths i'they had to reassure me in that series that my character had only been fifteen at the time,’ she remarks ‘My only worry now is that someone Will have the idea of casting me as a grandmother next year " And children and childhood are the central themes to her new drama. Coming to a small screen near you Her latest role is in Summer In The Suburbs, a ( hrllrng drama where a sleepy idyll is disrupted by the murder of a fourteen-year-old girl She plays Sandra lyle, wife of the local detective constable, who is initially terrified for the safety of her own kids before the horrendous realisation dawns that she may, in fact, be the mother of a murderer
Significant others Ms Peake-Jones is the t urrent partner of fellow actor Douglas Hodge She is also mother to seven-ycutr-old Mollie
Not to be confused with Griff Rhys Jones, lwrrr Peaks, Mervyn Peake. (Brian Donaldson)
Summer In The Suburbs, 88C2, Mon 70 Jan, 9pm
7—20 Jan 2000 THE LIST 87