DRAMA The Secret Life Of Michael Fry

Channel 4, starts Tue 25 Apr, 10pm.

You have to admit that it doesn’t sound like the stuff of riveting drama; single father working in a planning department in Wales. Yet, once you've thrown in mass corruption, sordid sex and one of the country’s most under-rated character actors on top form, you can allow your heart to rise again.

Ewen Bremner may forever be known as the hyper Spud from Trainspotting, but his title role in new two-parter, The Secret Life Of Michael Fry should go some way to both broadening his appeal and letting audiences in on another secret; the boy has range.

Set in a small unnamed Welsh seaside town, Fry's job as a town planner is the epitome of bureaucratic mundanity. That is until he stumbles upon some dodgy goings-on at a local hotel he has been asked to shut down. It has been the venue for the filming of internet sex and when he becomes besotted by one of the participants Donna (Rosie Marcel), he begins to join the dirty dots which lead all the way to the top.

It's pleasantly funny throughout, oddly surreal at times and contains an arresting central character whose sense of right and wrong leads him to question the motives of those in power, having previously just accepted the way things are. 'He's a man of the people but he's not big and brash or a rugged individualist,’ says Bremner of Michael Fry.

Yet, his reservations about the series almost saw him dropping this chance like a hot potato. 'Although I loved the script, I told my agent several times that there was no way I should go for it because I didn't think I would get the Welsh in time,’ recalls Bremner of his worries

Jenny Agutter and (0 get back on track


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Ewen Bremner puts the accent on quality

about getting the accent right. 'Welsh for me is very alien; I don't know anybody Welsh, I've never lived there, never even been there so I thought I was the wrong man for the job, but they persevered at trying to get me. So, I bought every Welsh language spoken thing I could get my hands on, worked with a dialect teacher and went up there for a few days.’

And the results are genuinely astonishing. Fears of Ruth Madoc-esque Hi De Hi! Taffyisms are laid immediately to rest by Bremner's uncanny accent. For his upcoming roles there may be further voice overhauls ahead; he is to play Harmony Korine’s mentally unstable uncle as a young man in the maverick/nutter's largely improvised Julien Donkeyboy and is appearing in Ben Affleck's blockbuster Pearl Harbor which has already been billed as Titanic 2. He may not have been blessed with Leo's looks, but soon Ewen Bremner may have similar prestige.

(Brian Donaldson)

Jenny Agutter, then only seventeen years yOung, played eldest daughter Roberta and now, 30 years on, she reappears in a new version, this time playing the mother This update lS being adapted by Simon Men Behawng Bad/y Nye from the original E Nesbitt novel ’lt's like remembering a sunny chridhood,’ says Jenny Agutter 'Lionel Jeffries created a very special atmosphere on set first time rOund The Rey/way Children has always meant something to me so I was happy to return

And haying left the ('Ountry for eighteen years soon after the original fini, she has returned wzth many prominent credits to her name haying starred in the quality likes of ‘/‘/a/kabout, Eguus and American Werewolf In London

Agutter was very impressed by Nye's adaptation which also stars Richard Attenborough and Gregor Fisher ‘He highlighted things glossed over :n the original, like Peter being the lone boy with no one to play cricket \\’|ll‘i and the fact that the mother is perhaps not as solid as she may first appear Simon's version is altogether more fragile ' (Mark Robertsoni

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TV times

We put TV celebs on the couch. This issue: Jonathan Ross

Born In Camden, North London, 17 November 1960, one of six children. Educated Gaining ’O' and ‘A' levels at schools in the East End, he was later accepted into the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, where he graduated in 1981 with an honours degree in Modern European History Big break HaVing hatched an idea for a revolutionary new chat show, he and fellow researcher Alar‘. Marke set up their own production company, Channel X When they failed to find a satisfactory presenter, Ross tried hrs hand and, in January 1987, he made his frontman debut 1.". The Last Resort Finest hour Despite trouble pronouncing the letter ‘r’ and dubious dress sense, Ross has enjoyed a bountiful career in radio and TV Credits have included The Inc’redib/y Strange Fi/ni Show, the dismal Big Big Talent Show and It’s On/y TV But / Like It. His finest hours are probably split between acting as honorary stand-in for chat god Wogan, and then replacing fiirn guru Norman

Well, Barry did have to retire sometime Exactly, and although some out there fear change, Jonathan has replaced that famous chair witl: an l- Mac' and taken the show into the 21st century

Little known fact Married to author Jane Goldman, the pair love nothing better than a good game of Scrabble So much so that Ross recently had four Scrabble letters tattooed on his upper arm spelling out her name

Not so little known fact Disiilusroned With Channel 4's lack of support and the general direction that Channel X was taking, Ross so:c1 r‘rs‘ share of the production company ir‘ 1995 ‘or jLJSi £1

Not to be mistaken for Diana Ross, Paul Ross, Barry Norn'ta"

iCatherine Bromley

it Fi/m 2000, BBC}, Tue, 7 7 30pm


Unmissable Very good

Worth a shot at t Below average You've been warned