DOCUMENTARY SERIES The Talk Show Story BBCI, starts Fri 2 Jun, 9.30pm.

Parky shows that it's good to talk

Several things make for the ideal talk show host. Among them are the ability to put the guest at ease while not being afrard to ask the tricky questrons. When one or both of these can’t be achreved, rt can make for a pretty sticky rntervrew, as all the top chat show comperes have found Out at least once rn therr careers,

As thrs compelling new serres shows, even the acknowledged granddaddy of


Can You Live

Without . . . ?

Channel 4, starts Tue 30 May, 8.30pm.

Stimulating drama as families make their ultimate sacrifice

Thrngs have come to a pretty pass when those mighty commrsSIonrng editors at Channel 4 throw therr combined mental and imaginative muscle behind a programme that's essentially the reversal of a BBC concept.

While Lrvrng With The Enemy challenged rndrvrduals wrth extreme vrews or leftfreld lifestyles to spend a week of heated altercatron rn the company of someone opposed to everything they stand for, Can You Live Wit/rout .7 opts to deprive participants of some ’essentral’ Irfe component So srt hack in your comfy couch, relax, and prepare to take sadistic pleasure as five families

116 THE “ST 2?) May 8 Jun 2000

them all, Mrchael Parkinson, has had hrs grref encounters. ’I don't know why but we just drdn’t hit it off’, he recalls of hrs set-to with a young Helen Mrrren; ’my dad said I should have just thumped hrm’, he remembers of his close to the knuckle verbal jostlings wrth Muhammad Ali. Quite what he wanted to do to Rod Hull after his assault by Emu is unprrntable.

Others had their fifteen minutes of shame, too; Russell Harty will have taken the image of a flapping Grace Jones to the grave; Terry Wogan rs unlikely to forget hrs clash with the wasted talent of George Best; and Clive Anderson must have been glad to see the back of the Bee Gees after therr huffy collective u-turn.

Add to that Irst the likes of Aspel, Letterman, Leno, O'Connor and Carson and it all adds up to a distinctly male-dominated business. Sue Lawley and Joan Rivers made some inroads rnto the genre, but it seems oddly appropriate that the two female hosts we may go on to remember are the spoof routines of Mrs Merton and Dame Edna Everage.

The acclaim those two have received has also pointed to another trend; the shrft from an audrence being given Insrght into the guest, to them waiting for the rntervrewer’s next crazy prank or cuttrng rnsult. Davrd Letterman could be blamed for kicking thrs off, but the likes of Clive Anderson and Graham Norton leave so little time for therr intervrewee to speak, it makes the phrase ’talk show’ virtually redundant. (Brian Donaldsonl

struggle to survrve rn the absence of TV, a wife, make-up, a secretary and one's domestic staff.

’The challenges don’t sound that tough,’ admrts producer Jonathan Holmes. ’But it was harder than you think. In the first programme, for example, all home entertainment was removed: stereos, TVs, Game Boys and a computer.’

Holmes, of Rea/ Holiday Show fame, rs well-versed rn the business of real life TV and its potential pitfalls. ’l’m very pleased wrth the way the partrcipants entered rnto this serres with the right sprrrt. I also found the process qurte movrng rn the way TV can change people‘s lrves. The frrst family was rnrtrally bOred, then they started to look for alternatrve forms of amusement. The experiment ended with the parents not wantrng any of their appliances back because they’d enjoyed communrcatrng properly as a family.’

Qurte how seriously the Kenneys from Lrverpool took their touchy feely resolutron once the telly was plugged back rn rsn’t documented, and some vrewers may frnd the programme’s purported phrlanthropic rntentrons drffrcult to swallow. Nevertheless, the series does produce some reasonably strmulatrng human drama.

Personally, I’d Irke to see a serres that combines both channels’ formulas. One programme mrght feature, say, Peter Tatchell and Brian Souter attempting to survrve on an island together wrthout food or water. Now, there rs a delrcrous prospect. (Allan Radcliffe)



DOCUMENTARY History Zone: The Houdini Myth BBCZ, Sat 3 Jun, 8.05pm.

What was it that made tiny Hungarran Erich Weiss rnto a legend in his own lifetime? Much of it was down to his uncanny ability to throw himself into potentially fatal situations (almost always involving substantial quantities of water) in a variety of bound states. Chains, ropes, strait- jackets; it was all the same to him as he enthralled his audience by failing to keep the appointment with his maker by escaping in a matter of moments.

However, the man who achieved these major miracles (otherwise known as Harry Houdinil was plagued by the terror of his own mortality. Yet, instead of disappearing rnto his shell, Harry would tempt fate further by doing crazy things such as locking himself in a crate and going for a dip in New York’s East Rrver. In charns.

This History Zone film chats to today’s escapologists, rllusronrsts and magrcal Charlatans in an attempt to understand why Harry Houdrnr was bound for stardom. (Brian Donaldson)

s" . -4


Houdini sets off another chain reaction

The Chemical Generation Channel 4, Sat 27 May, 11pm.

Ecstacy and acrd house musrc changed the face of youth culture. With the explosion of both in 1988, dance music and drugs became commercral and social drrvrng forces.

This documentary traces the roots of the phenomenon from the soul boys who brought Balearic dance mu5rc back from their 80s Mediterranean excursions to the establishment of the current superclubs and the emergence of superstar Dls; Paul Oakenfold, Sasha, Pete Tong et al.

Boy George is our gurde through lbrza, ecstasy, secret illegal raves, Leah Betts, the Crrminal justice bill and cocarne, wrth clubbers, promoters, policemen and DJs all waxrng lyrical on therr profound effect on British sOCrety.

Few attempts are made to romantrcise or glamorrse drug use and while the musical linearity could have been developed more, thrs rllustrates how drugs and dance music are inextricably linked and how they remain an rntrrnsrc part of Brrtrsh culture. (Mark Robertson)

Boy George raves about club culture

Ex-Rated Channel 5, Thu, 11.15pm.

Like a collector who smashes a Mrng vase so he doesn't have to worry about damaging it, a young girl dispenses wrth vrsible panty lrne problems by wearing an entirely see- through dress. The lady rn question is a competitor on Ex-Rated, a programme which allows the embittered to dish the dirt on former partners. The show’s beauty hes in a succession of ugly revelations about infidelity, sexual incompetence and despicable parents.

’Sure rt’s voyeuristic, and I vowed I’d never do a game show, but there’s something of a Pop Art challenge here for me,’ says popular Aussie comrc Mark Lrttle. ’I thought about the three minutes rn B/ind Date where the c0up|e come back to report, and things haven’t gone right. It’s compelling vrewing, sol extended rt to half an hour. It’ll be the talk of the next day for some people.’ But what kind of people? (Steve CramerI

Mark Little spreads a little ugliness