Black Cab BBC2, starts Mon 8 May, 10.20pm.

Over twenty years ago, Martin Scorsese realised the dramatic potential of seeing life through the eyes of the urban cabbie. His portrait of a man SUbJGCied to, and eventually made to embody somety’s neuroses propelled the predicament of the cabbie into Our collective psyche

As licensed voyeurs, they see us at our most depraved and, lest we forget this, here is a new series of films, all set in a London taxr. Created by Amelia 'Steph from Corrie’ Bullmore, the series consists of ten short films and uses the feeling of eavesdropping on private and intensified behavrour in a confined space as its premise.

While voyeurism is hardly a new concept in television programming, obsessed as we are by 'real life’, the means of production is grOund- breaking in itself. The first drama series to be shot on a DVCam, Black Cab arms at realistically recreating the


The Richard Blackwood Show

Channel 4, starts Wed 3 May, Ilpm.

This is not the new Des O'Connor

chard Blackwood belies his onstage wisecracking persona, modestly retell-rig his I999 success story, a TV series, a regular slot on MTV and sell- out stand-uo shows He is keen, however, to be making a return to Britisl‘ terrestrial TV screens with a second series of hrs party-Cum-chat Show

‘To be re-commissioned was an indication of its success,’ says Blackwood who is quick to dispel "OIIOFTS of him bezng the next Des O’Connor, stressing his non-traditional

116 THE lIST 27 Am» I I :'.lay 2000

I had that woman with blood on her shirt in the back of my cab, once

atmosphere of a London taxi and the typical conversations and behavrour that take place inside them.

While the credits for the series include the likes of Mark Ravenhill, Stephen Tompkinson, Harriet Walter, Phil Dam and Clive Russell, ex-cabbie James McCreadie is writing purely from experience. Drawrng upon four years spent drrvrng a private taxi in Helensburgh for hrs short ’Work’, McCreadie comments: ’lt's an interesting lot), but it’s not one that I enjoyed. In fact, I've never met a happy cabbie.'

Now purSuing a career in screen- writing and acting, he’s hard-pushed to recall hrs worst experience. ’lt would have to be the couple having sex in the back of the cab. I don’t think that can be topped. You can laugh about rt now but at the time it's really not funny. You IUSI want a wee bit of respect. It doesn’t hurt to show some respect for five or ten minutes and it’s amaZing how many people fail to do that.’ (Catherine Bromley)

roots. I come from a very different line of stand-ups from the likes of Jack Dee and Lee Evans, I'm more of the Eddie Murphy, Curtis Walker and Junior Simpson school. I have something different to offer, something the mainstream has never seen before’

Guests for the first series included rap stars TO and LL Cool J and boxrng impresario Don King, and wrth Naomi Campbell (hrs cousm), Elle MacPherson and Neneh Cherry scheduled for the new shows, its clear he can draw the big names. But he reSists the temptation to dig for dirt. 'As far as guests are concerned, it's like "we’re here to have some fun and I thank you for even being here", I'm not trying to be controversial. Ultimater rt pays off because they are more natural.’

Continuing hrs quest for world domination, Blackwood releases his debut single ’Mama Who Da Man' in June and he can be seen on Film Four in July presenting hrs favourite movres. ‘The record companies saw me freestyling on the show and on MTV,’ he explains. 'They thought “hey, we can market this" so now I've nearly completed an album '

When put together, comedy and music often come across as novelty packaging but Blackwood remains quietly determined. ‘There’s a lot of (Omedy in the lyrics, but It Will come thr0ugh more in the Videos. I'm a physrcal comedian and that is where I wrll shine,’ (Mark Robertson)

DOCUMENTARY SERIES Designing Our Lives BBC2, starts Mon 8 May, 7.30pm.

When the Manic Street Preachers sang of a ’Design For Life’, they were making another of their typical grandiose statements, but in reality they weren’t too far off the mark. Design has entered into every facet of our lives and Janice Kirkpatrick, co- founder of Graven Images, is here to tell us how.

The home, the wheel, the chair and, in the first programme, the body, are all explored for their design aesthetics. Kirkpatrick explains how thoughts of design through the centuries have shaped our present day existence, wrth sculptors, manneQUin-makers

Janice Kirkpatrick has designs on you

and plastic surgeons all helping to illustrate the pornt.

As tenuous as this concept may seem, it does work and we are left looking at the man-made world in a peculiar way. A lone complaint is that the producers COUld have done wrth double the time to do this justice, 30 minutes per show

feeling all too limiting. (Mark Robertson)


Brazil: An Inconvenient History

BBC2, Sat 29 Apr, 8.05pm.

When you think of Brazil, what comes to mind? Images of the World Cup, the Rio Carnival and an exuberant populace which seems to spend its time smiling and danCing in the Sun. The history which created this multicultural mix is somewhat less cheerful, as this History Zone programme reveals.

It was five centuries ago that the

Holding up a mirror to a divided nation

Portuguese landed on Brazilian shores and, during their colonisation, over four million African slaves were brOught to work on the plantations. They endured nightmarish conditions and abolition of slavery did not arrive until I888. The lasting legacy can be seen today in the poverty gap between blacks and whites, but also in the nation’s huge Cultural diversity. The slaves held onto African musrc, dance and religion, creating the vibrant fusion of traditions that we recognise


Sadly, the carnival beauties and football heroes don’t appear in this programme but if you don't mind the educational approach, yOu’ll find y0urself informed.

(Lowsa Pearson)


BBCI, Sun 30 Apr, 6.40pm & Mon I May, 6.20pm.

In between barbecues and dancing around the Maypole, what better way to spend a holiday weekend lost in a lavrshly produced fantasy adventure?

With thousands of extras, exotic locations, magic carpets and an Arab prince from Glenrothes, Arabian Nights IS a thrilling concoction. Not all 1001 fables are included here, though the best-loved tales have been dusted off and given a vvrtty new gloss by playwright Peter Barnes.

Needless to say the casting directors have Surpassed themselves; there are even some groovy y0ung things among the reguisite scene-cheWing Iuvvies. Rufus Sewell appears as an effete Ali Baba, DOugray Scott is the herOic Sultan Schahriar, and in the framing story the resourceful Scheherazade (newcomer Mili Avrtal)

Exotic locations, magic carpets and an Arab prince from Glenrothes

spins many a gripping yarn in order to amid the exeCUtioner’s axe. Dragons and monsters are supplied c0urtesy of Jim Henson's Creature Shop making Ray Harryhausen’s 60$ animatronics look abOut as slick as The Amazing

Adventures of Morph. (Allan Radcliffe)