PREVIEW Monarch Of The Glen BBCl, starts Sun 27 Feb, 8.100%

In a month which has seen Britain's rural crisis intensify, the timing of BBC Scotland's new satirical drama, based around an anachronistic Highland institution, couldn’t be better. Monarch Of The Glen is also a jolly good laugh and a remarkable showcase for talent, including a star- making turn by lead Alastair Mackenzie.

Mackenzie plays Archie MacDonald, a trendy London restaurateur. Schmoozing among the Gucci and cappuccino crowd is put on hold when he's whisked north to his family home, the crumbling Glenbogle Estate. Presiding over the ancestral ruin is patriarch Hector (another eccentric role for Richard Briers), laird and master of all he surveys, firmly residing in a feudal time warp.

Horrified that his father has covertly signed over Glenbogle's acres to his son as a tax dodge, Archie is initially reluctant to assume the laird’s tartan mantle. But confronted with the reality of selling up and replacing the MacDonald family with McDonalds burgers, Archie's nostalgic affection for his childhood home causes a dilemma which is compounded when the locals begin seeking leadership against the threat of the predatory nouveau riche.

The eight-part series has some impressive credits, including producers Ecosse Films responsible for the Mrs Brown phenomenon. Mackenzie is especially thrilled to be working with the legendary Briers, having been brought up on a strict diet of Rhubarb and Custard. ‘It was intimidating at first,’ he admits. ‘Richard Briers was pretty much the face and voice on television in my childhood. We got on brilliantly, although I kept cracking up during our scenes together because he's so entertaining. It'll be interesting to see how the relationship develops between our characters.’

While the average viewer may struggle to identify with the everyday problems of a hereditary peer, Briers and


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Family feudal: Monarch Of The Glen

Mackenzie’s convincing father/son double-act and the script's hilarious portrayal of the shrinking gap between traditional and contemporary cultures make this fun Sunday evening fare. In one memorable scene the family sit waiting in full Highland dress for their venison to be piped in while the servants are largin’ it around the kitchen to Fatboy Slim.

Monarch will undoubtedly be a big break for Mackenzie, following a meaty role as Dr ‘Shug' Nevin in Psychos. The dramatic final episode, which saw Nevin‘s spectacular descent into bloody violence was viewed by fans as a cliffhanger, yet Channel 4, in their wisdom, have chosen not to re-commission, a decision which frustrates the actor. 'I don't understand how they make these decisions. Psychos provided such a springboard for acting talent and it's rare to see writing that good on television. I think we should get a petition together to get it re- commissioned.‘

The 'Citizens Opposed to the Offing of Psychos' (Co-op) campaign starts here. (Allan Radcliffe)

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We put TV celebs on the couch. This issue: Clive Anderson

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STAR RATINGS Unmrssable Very good Worth a shot Below average You're been \Jrarned

21152923 THE lIST 99

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