True Stories: 100% White Channel 4, Mon 19 Jun, 10.05pm. There aren't many of us who would willingly step into a lions' den. For documentary-maker Leo Regan, the beast whose nature he chose to confront was that of the British neo- Nazi. A decade ago, he was working in music photo-journalism, treading the potentially lethal fascist gig circuit and meeting up with some pretty extreme individuals. The fact that he was an Irish Catholic — the right Wing’s natural enemy — could only have made his task even more perilous.
Unlike Donal McIntyre - the campaigning reporter who went undercover last year to expose similar types — Regan was upfront with his ultra-nationalist acquaintances. ’I let them know that l was trying to do something about them not for them; that I wasn't promoting them in any way. What I would do was to get closest to the meanest, baddest, motherfucker and if I was OK with them then other people backed off. That was my tactic. But I had a healthy respect, if that's the right word, for their potential for violence.’
A book, Public Enemies, followed and ten years on, he has caught up with three of them — Neil, Nick and Colin — for 100% White, the latest in Channel 4's tremendous True Stories strand. The'trio are attempting to readjust to life outwith the confines of the gang, all appearing to miss the loyalty and sense of belonging which their skinhead existence brought them. While this can be fairly depressing stuff, it works as a reminder that a fascist presence is still out there and that Britain would do well never to get too complacent about the threat from the fringes. And while their lives may not be filled
Overwrought, middle class pseudo-drama or enthralling humpfest?
True Stories wears hearts on sleeves and tattoos on bellies
with the constant and brutal violence which brought them spells at the Queen's pleasure, their politics have altered marginally.
’The main characters in the film come from the extremes; they’re no longer on the frontline but they still have those beliefs,’ notes Regan, recalling moments such as the one where the almost reasonable manner of Neil is betrayed by his pleasure in discussing last year’s brief bombing campaign in London. 'Even Nick, who now has friendships with black people, holds the view that he is as right wing as the average Englishman. I think there is still a future for their kind of politics, albeit in different guises.’ Despite that pessimism, the film has glimmers of hope. ‘I think for someone like Nick to be mixing with black people is a wonderful thing.’ (Brian Donaldson)
Writer Amy Jenkins created numerous strong, sexy characters, chucked into a scnpt With more tWists than a meeting of Curly Wurly shareholders, making her subsequent trip into the literary realm pale by comparison. Where the do-gooder, laughtrack laden slop that is Friends turned the feelgood factor up to eleven, This Life made their leading quintet work for their money. Many others have tried (and failed) to better the formula, BBC's Hearts And Bones and lTV’s Metropolis being two unsuccessful recent examples.
It might have not been that true to life, but who could forget the final slug Out between Milly and Rachel or the ginger plumber ending up sorting out Ferdi’s pipework and office boy Joe and lippy lass Anna’s dirty shag on Miles' desk?
For once, a show was allowed to go out on a high, finishing after a second series and, unlike the disappOinting
BBCZ, starts lvlon 12 Jun, 11.20pm.
Like any good TV programme should, Th/s Life polarised public Opinion. Some were irritated by the overwrought, middle class, pseudo-
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drama which ineVitably ended up either down the pub or in bed. Others were enthralled, glued to the endless domestic rumbles, the who-shags-Who humpfests, and the stream of lovers, lodgers and battling co-workers dwelling in that incongruous flatshare.
Queer As Folk sequel, leaVing us on something of a cliffhanger. Can't remember? Then get ready to go thr0ugh it all again as both series are repeated in their neurotic, sex—sweat drenched, Frascati-soaked glory.
We put TV celebs on the couch. This issue: Sarah Lancashire
Born 1963, Oldham in the fair county of Lancashire, appropriately enough Big break Havrng toured the dramatic block a few times With a succession of dizzy stage blondes and bit-parts on telly (including the key role of Girl On Train in The Bill) Sarah eventually found herself behind the bar at The Rovers Return as archetypal dumb-blonde- With-heart-of-gold Raquel Wolstenhulme.
Finest hour Since abandoning poor Curly to the lonely conf:nes of Emily Bishop’s back bedroom in 1996, Lancashire has succeeded in prowng there’s life Without soap. After three series playing rural nurse Ruth Goddard in sleepy Sunday night drama Where The Heart Is, Lancashire has continued to av0id typecasting With a turn as Family At War actress and serial child- adopter Coral Atkins, and demonstrating her hefty right hook to Christopher Eccleston as volatile Yvonne in Clocking Off,
And now? Lancashire is ab0ut to embark across the rickety bridge that is the British Sitcom playing barrister Ruth Quirke in Chambers. Given the ropey collection of comedies to emerge in recent years, this may be Lancashire’s riskiest undertaking yet.
Little known fact(s) Lancashire's first foray into Street Life was in the less familiar incarnation of Wendy Farmer, a nurse Who had Jack Duckworth drooling With appreCiation when she responded to his ad for a lodger. Plus, her father Geoffrey was a scriptwriter for the soap in the 60s.
Not so little known fact For many, Raquel’s most memorable appearance was in the Street’s one-off millennium specral, turning up out of the blue to break Curly's heart for the final time. Blub.
Not to be mistaken for Burt Lancaster, Elsa Lanchester, Lancashire County Cricket Assooation (Allan Radcliffe)
I Chambers, BBCl, starts Thu 75 Jun, 9.30pm.