Bob Martin Scottish, starts Sun ZApr, 10pm.

Pop Quiz: Which extremely popular prime time light entertainer is suffering from severe delusions of thespian grandeur and has been granted a vehicle for his questionable talent by those genius programme-makers on the ITV network? Stuck? Here's some clues; male, 405, the bastard offspring of a kangaroo and a giraffe, has built his career around the deeply unfunny premise that ordinary people do the funniest things. Still not there? Says ‘awight' a lot. Bingo.

Billed as Britain’s answer to The Larry Sanders Show, Bob Martin sees the artist formerly known as Barrymore in the challenging role of a troubled game show host. Tired of wringing cheap laughs from contestant 'characters' like Jim from Yorkshire (an erroneous notion coming from Michael Barrymore of all people) Martin is relieved at his ratings-conscious new producer’s injection of celebrity guests into the show.

And what a dazzling assortment of stars they’ve scored; Cheryl Baker, Luke 6055, Terry Wogan. Sunglasses at the ready, folks. Of course, Barrymore isn’t the first comedian/light entertainer to stretch the boundaries of their job description. Indeed, the roll-call of naff Saturday night TV 'personalities' who branched into straight-ish roles is extensive and really rather surprising.

The key to credible celebrity diversification seems to lie in undertaking a role totally removed from that celebrity's recognised persona. Playing the organist/stalker in Dennis Potter's Lipstick On Your Collar, loveable Roy Hudd was assigned lines like 'You shaggable, shaggable tart’. Old Dennis must have been impressed as he later picked him for another role in Karaoke.

And film producers everywhere were effected when Benny Hill exchanged breast jokes for the part of Bottom in a 605 TV production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Cameos in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Italian Job followed. Similar attempts at expansion have


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The splendidly vacuous Ali G

Da Ali G Show Channel 4, starts Fri 31 Mar, 10.30pm.

’Can you believe I is got me own asks A.i G at the start of his solo series before confessing 'And I ain't got a clue what to do ' It's a self- deprec'ating jOkO which the mean- spirited ‘.V|ll be ciUick to pounce on. After all, isn't it rather stretching things to create a whole series of s'x l‘dli-liOtll' episodes out of a character whose natural habitat is the ten- rninute slot, and whose collected Ali G Inn/i? hour and a half even With additional

Luckay, those whose spirits are so inclined will be disappointed by the it"Sl shots: because 't's "ather ace After

Michael Barrymore (middle) is far from awight in his first serious role

been undistinguished or short-lived. Roy ‘Chubby' Brown at least acquitted himself in a guest appearance in The League Of Gentlemen. Russ Abbott starred in two series of ITV drama September Song before disappearing forever, we hope.

Others replicated the Orson Welles career programme. Freddie Starr commenced with a ferocious performance as a juvenile delinquent in gritty 505 Brit-flick Violent Playground and wound up with hamster headlines and the Blackpool Illuminations. Jim Davidson also committed the folly of jacking in a promising film career - he’s been in a Peter Greenaway film, for heaven’s sake - for reactionary comedy and tabloid ubiquity.

As for Bob Martin, suffice to say Barrymore looks bewildered throughout; whether this is method acting or genuine astonishment at the fact that this lame, painfully slow comedy was ever commissioned is unclear. Oh well, back to the agent, My Kind Of Music and widespread adoration. (Allan Radcliffe)

the best dressing scene this side of the LeVi’s Twisted ad, Ali is at his most sleaZily sincere, promian ‘food for head, heart and beast' :n his ongoing 'search for realness'

In this first part, beast is taken care of by booty-shaking to a drum 8. bass reiri;x ol Supergrass and head by a spoof of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? played, naturally, for a inasswe bag of skunk 'your first Question, for a sixtee'itli ' Heart, meanwhile, is taken care of' by a regular, concluding 'Final Thought' With Ali at his most splend-clly vac uous

What's more, in an interviev.‘ \‘.’llli Neil Hamilton, creator Sacha Baron Cohen seems to have found the only person left in the UK who .stiIE thinks Ali G is just another Nc)"n‘sk' Class iToby Mannincj‘i

barely top an

TV times

We put TV celebs on the couch. This Issue: John Thaw

Born I942 in ivld'KWOSlCl, the son of a lorry (ill‘JOl'

Educated He left sc "oo at SIXIOOY‘ \‘-.'|‘.l‘. one O Level and to '.'.or~< .r: lylanchester's fruit n‘a'x’et \".'i:r:e ‘.'.’()lklllg as a baker's ass stant, he applied to RADA A teddy boy at the tin‘e, he got .nto ciasses ‘.'.’YIll the 'ikes of Tom Courtenay and Sarah Miles

Big break After a soe?! .n repertory theatre in Liverpool ipiay'nci a policeman , lie snarec: dos \s.’ 1h Courtenay and, alter a spe" III the West End and some n: no!" TV roles, he \‘.as pic keci' up to play Detec tine Inspector lac k Recjari .r: The S.'./eene',/ Finest hour He's had ciuzte a few of them to speak of, lnspec to." "/lorose, sorry, Morse and Kd‘."<llld(]ll QC bot“ deserve honourable 'r‘ent orts, but his role aloncjszcle Der‘" s \‘Xatcv'rnar‘. as

Jac s Regan Ill The S'.'.’ee/ie'/ .s arguably li's rnost (‘ltK‘Tldllil‘Q T‘.‘ n‘orner‘t

He's always playing rozzers, isn’t he? Not always Aside from l‘.lorse, Ka\.'aiiacjli and Rena", i‘e ‘ou"d tune for the truly suspect A Year in Provence and club:o.;s sitco'i: Horne To Roost But that’s old news isn’t it? Very true Nov. ".e is takric; a step back in {WW to ciuote Kyle l‘\.lll‘i()(lt.(“ to 19410 and occupied France to p ay Catholic priest lulOHSlgllOI' Renard He returns to h:s home of Saint Josse Des Bos to ‘Incl the Germans I." cont": Renarci ‘s reunrted with the !()‘. e M ef‘. beltzricl and is iorceci to clec 'u‘e bet‘.'.een his t'aitl‘ and surxiixii‘c; t'te \. o'e'”. "(‘QY'Y‘O of an occupied country

Little known fact He 's"(‘di<(‘(l :" a bar“. in Z Cars and starred t" Bob l~losk"‘s in ‘i.‘.'(‘ll-lOTCl()ii(?l‘, ct?!“ "a: s (com. T’Vck As Thieves

Not to be mistaken for ".lartrn Shaw Dei‘ozs l-a\.'., Reyna"(i The Fox

'l‘clark Robe'tson'

iVlO/lS/gllOf Renard, Scottish, Mon, 9pm

STAR RATINGS cine: ssable “.erf, oooc:

‘.i.>f°." a sixo‘.


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5.? '8' Li; THE lIST 107