Phobias BBCI, starts Wed 12 Jul, 8pm.

What scares you? What wakes you up in the middle of the night, sweaty- palmed and out of breath7 What is it that you most fear confronting, that sets your heart iac ing, that reduces you to a guivering wreck within seconds?

In a move that will either act as a first step on the path to a cure, or Will have Victims running for cover behind the nearest sofa, Phobias looks at the attempts made by three ordinary people to overcome their fears about dogs, heights and driVing Investigating how phobias first arise, how they're reinforced by constant negative thought, and how they can be overcome, we go deep into the valley of fear

If you're with ten-year-old Danin on the dangers of dogs, then it might be best to look away as the poor Iacl attempts to edge closer and closer to a boisterous Labrador Similarly, if like Trevor a man who seems quite at home covered in bees and collecting



Channel 4, starts Fri 7 Jul, .30pm. . ._ 4.

Is this bravery or lunacy?

Adjectives such as experimental, eclec tic, innovative and non- conventional usually ensure a graveyard slot for a series Yet, With the Alt-IV strand being put up against Coronation Street, you can only conclude that the (hannel 4 schedulers are either full of Cieorge Cross-style bravery oi brimming wrth frothy insanity

Alt-l‘V's identity is marked by its sense of raw egalitarianism Produce"s and directors were given the t sk of dreaming up radically new filinmaking methods with identical budgets and it) lllllE‘ilt") to tell their story

108 THE lIST () 20 Jui 2000

This is one way of dealing with a phobia

honey the thought of climbing a flight of stairs fills you wrth dread, and the prospect of going 300ft up a church tower sends a shiver down your spine, then beware.

Phobias is an inspired attempt to get to the heart of the matter, the practicalities of fear and how to get around it When faced With something we fear, our natural response is to either run or fight, and in a situation where we feel as if we can do neither, our old friend and biological response, panic, sets in.

The heart races, the pupils dilate, the mind freezes up. Imminent disaster seems ineVitable, and it‘s not because you’ve woken up With a pounding headache in an unfamiliar bed wearing someone else’s clothes (well, not this time, at least). The biological response is powerful, and overcoming it difficult, but With the aid of Jerky camera movements, Hitchcock sound effects and a healthy dose of swearing on the part of Trevor, Phobias helps you take that first, terrifying step.

(Leon McDermott)

Exec utive producer Ruth Pitt explains the effects: 'What has been amazing for me has been the realisation that if you demand a lot from people - in terms of writing and performance it is amazing what remarkable results they can ac hieve.'

What is achieved in the first of the series, How Wide Is Your Sky?, is a look at one day in the life of a city. In this case, the city is Leeds where West Yorkshire Playhouse artistic director Jude Kelly has pornted her camera at commuters, school children, artists and the homeless to chart 24 hows from dusk tiI dawn.

As if to emphasise the series' rabid eclecticism, programme two sticks a tiny hidden camera into til)errnc)del Caprice's spectacles and lets her go Wild in the fickle world of the celebrity circuit. In Being Caprice, we discover the hell that is her life of recording studios, award ceremonies and media haranguing about her private affairs.

Later programmes see media prankster Victor Lewrs-Smith writing, casting and performing a new theatre work in Just seven days (Play In A Week), a confrontation between a black woman and white security guard is told from different Viewpoints (Relative Truth) and headcams are donned by a groom, bride and stag night lapdancer to tell the real tale of a wedding (Mandy Gets Her Man) Diverse attractions indeed.

(Brian Donaldson)


Border Cafe BBCI, starts Sun 9 Jul, 9.20pm.

'There's nowt so queer as folk’, goes the popular saying. It also goes that there's nowt so popular as TV dramas centred on a group of lame ducks struggling to get by. Created by Tim Firth (Preston Front), this new comedy drama series is set in a fictional town on the borders of Lancashire, Cheshire and Wales, home to a batch of quirky and mismatched thirtysomethings.

Goodnight Sweetheart’s Elizabeth Carling plays Charlotte, the lead Singer of cult band True North. Havrng abandoned the role With the band at their height she returns home to settle down With her childhood love, Davrd (Sean Gallagher). As he is an aspiring musician, she buys him a cafe in wh:ch to perform, and together they set about employing inept family members and hangers-on to run the kitchen.

The endearing drama which ensues surrounds not only the cafe owners and employees but also the social misfits that dine there. Episode one, 'Rock ’n’ Roll Surcrde', sets the scene for troubles ahead when Ronnie, a copycat singer in the band Untrue North, is forced into unemployment due to Charlotte's actions and he sets out for a confrontation. Cue the endearing drama. (Catherine Bromley)


Flatmate Channel 4, Wed 5 Jul s v

Flatmates, you can’t live wrth 'em and you can't live wrth 'em. That’s what this new real life series has to say about sharing accommodation. And for anyone who's experienced that particular domestic phenomenon -- With attending incredible vanishing food stuffs, Tower Of Babel-type

washing up piles, late night music

revues ~ you'll wrnce With y

An endearing if lame comedy drama

uncomfortable recognition at the yawn. antics and home truths revealed here L5"

The format of Flatmate follows Channel 4's sister series Street/hate, being part sooal experiment, part game show. Each week host/comic Emma Kennedy helps an exrstrng househoch enlist a new flatmate. After a series of rigorous inqursmons —: recalling, unimaginatively, Shallow Grave —- a new cionscript is chosen and we get to see the consequences of them liVing together,

The now patented wacky style frantic cut, cut, camera zoom, more cutting and hyperactive presenter is immediately irritating. What the show reveals of its SLJI)JOCI is far more interesting The first episode sees some Brixton youngsters attempt to work out which of Kennedy's five candidates will be best suited to their spare room. But as they conduct intensive interrogation, attempting to choose between clubby boy and guitar-playing Sloaney girl, the South London flatmates expose their own awful domestic dysfunc trons. (Miles Fielder)


Head On Comedy BBCT, starts Thu 13 Jul, 10.50pm.

At last, a comedy show With a modicum of originalin in its concept. Filmed in Glasgow, Head On Comedy sees Jo Brand host two teams of funny folk fronted by Edinburgh Fringe favourites Ed Byrne and Bill Bailey as they tackle the serious issues of the day. It's as though the lunatic's have taken over the Oxford debating ball; This House Wants To Be A Millionaire, Doesn't Want To Grow Up and Wants To Be A Man are among the scheduled set-tos.

'Not since The Bloomsbury Set accidentally invented snakebite in 1926 will there have been such ioshing,’ exhales Bill Bailey ’We will attempt to pull the teeth of comedy from the hardened gums of seriousness '

Of course, you could be a cynic and argue that with the timing of Head On Comedy, the series is less a forum for debate and more a platform for the indIVIduaI comics to sell tickets for their forthcoming shows or grab V|(‘\\'(‘ls for upcoming telly productions. Or you could be grateful for a comedy show not set in a rural locale or invoIVing the inter-relations of thirtysomething non-entities (Brian Donaldson)

Emma Kennedy reveals some home truths

Not the Bloomsbury set