BBCZ, starts Mon 4 Sep, 11.20pm. Every once in a while, the dark forces of terrestrial television conspire to prevent their more impressionable viewers from making it to bed at a reasonable hour. Recently, our slumber has been criminally prevented by late- night screenings of Big Brother, a programme which holds a guilty fascination despite having all the dramatic tension of the contents of your washing machine.

At least the now-defunct, love-it- or-hate-it sitcom Seinfeld always prided itself on being about precisely nothing, a healthy policy which left it balancing comfortably at the top of the US ratings for much of its nine-year run. Yet, while daily re-runs continue to attract zillions of viewers Stateside, over here the show has been consigned to the same anti-social time slot enjoyed by fellow American smash hits such as the late, great Larry Sanders Show.

Now, with the snooker and darts seasons well and truly at an end, those cautious types at the BBC are reluctantly allowing access to Seinfeld's final moments for the few remaining mortals without access to digital and cable. For the uninitiated, much of Seinfeld's appeal lies in its undemanding familiarity. Every episode runs to the same busy formula: Jerry goes on an abortive series of dates with gorgeous-psycho-with-strange- fetish.

Meanwhile, best mate and downtrodden, bespectacled nerd George Costanza hatches yet another scheme to rid himself of his nagging fiancee/bullying parents/job at New York Yankees. Elsewhere, the ever-eating Elaine (Jerry's platonic girlfriend) goes on an abortive series of dates with handsome-psycho-with-strange-fetish while fretting over some cock-up at the office.

At the same time, Jerry's neighbour (gangly, tall-haired clumsy clown Cosmo Kramer) hatches his latest moneymaking scheme; rickshaw tours of the Big Apple, warming clothes in ovens for the homeless, that kind of thing. A series of coincidences bring the four plot-lines into collision at the end of each episode, usually in

DETECTIVE THRILLER Waking The Dead BBCT, lvlon 4—Tue 5 Sep, 9.30pm.

Undemanding familiarity with hilarious consequences

either the local diner or Jerry’s apartment. With hilarious consequences.

While much of this random silliness is based on the real-life experiences of Seinfeld and his co-writer Larry David, the greatest pleasure is derived from the series’ minor characters, including Wayne Knight as lecherous mailman Newman plus Jerry Stiller and Estelle Harris as George's parents from hell.

Of course, it's easy to understand why certain sections of the comedy-loving public would prefer to tune into Big Brother, whose most amusing incident to date has been the cast's tortoise-like reaction to their chip-pan fire. The Seinfeld plot seems based on the notion that Jerry is irresistible to women, hence the endless stream of wooden lovelies that have graced the series must be that sexy mullet. Worse than that, punchlines and changes of scene are signalled by that relentless Mark King-esque slap-bass riff, a device even more annoyingly intrusive than canned laughter during your average BBC sitcom. (Allan Radcliffe)

Phrlrppe Starck Unfortunately, the clrches about berng ’all gloss' rrng true DCI Boyd rs grven a second chance

A glossy but hapless psycho-thriller

60 THE lIST 24‘ Aug-r7 Sea 2000

Our appetrte for crrme drama seems rnsatrable, but to keep us rnterested the prograrrrrrre-makers are torlrng to come up vath new rdeas The power of forensrcs and psychology rs the new twrst on an old ge'rre rn Barbara lvlachrn's t\.‘.'o-par‘ter', Wakrng The Dead. A gaggle of famrlrar faces appear, led by Trevor Eve as DCI Boyd, Casualty's Clarre Goose plays DC Mel Srlver and The Roy/e Fa/r'rrly's Sue Johnston takes the role of psychologrcal profrler' Dr Grace Foley There's no argurng the programme looks good, fast-rrrovrng hand-held camera shots and moody rrrdustr'ral landscapes grve a conterrrporary feel, and the pol-(e rnvestrgatron rooms could almost have been desrgned by

when a rrrurder case he farled to solve rs re-opened Hrstory starts repeatrng rtself as the krller decrdes to strrke agarn, thrs trme makrng rt personal wrth Boyd There's plenty of shoutrng as the forensrcs expert, sensrtrve detectrve sergeant, psychologrst and Boyd all clash

But shoutrng doesn't equal tensron, and the characters sluggrshly bOunce off each other rather than creatrng sparks As the krller rs revealed early on, the surprrse element doesn't enter rnto the equatron and we're left watchrng our hapless crack crrme squad stumble towards the obvrous conclusron If DCI Boyd rs to reappear on our screens, they'll have to do better than thrs lLoursa Pearsonr

TV times

We put TV celebs on the couch. This issue: Tony Robinson

His brilliant career The Mrchael Carne of televrsron ubrqurty, Tony Robrnson has appeared rn more than 500 programmes. He’s popped up rn varrous gurses rn much of Brrtrsh televrsron's comedy output over the last twenty years rncludrng Alas Smith And Jones and The Lenny Henry Show More talented than an army of Mr Rrpley clones, he's also a prolrfrc wrrter and theatre drrector/actor and has lent hrs velvety tones to audro cassettes by authors rangrng from Terry Pratchett to Julran Barnes

Finest hour Whrle hrs recent electron to LabOur's natronal executrve mrght merrt a speCral notch on the Robrnson cv, hrs role as Rowan Atkrnson's flea- rrdden servant Baldrrck rn Blackadder wrll probably remarn hrs legacy to posterrty. A speCral eprsode of the serres was rncluded as one of the exhrbrts rn the Mrllennrum Dome, good to see the place has somethrng worth queurng for

So what's next for this colossus of the British media? A new serres of T/me Team Channel 4's archaeologrcal versron of all those gardenrng/cookery/DIY challenge programmes wrll see Tony donnrng hrs presenter’s hat to drool over unearthed lOOO-year-old chrcken bOnes and the lrke

Little known facts (part one) The precocrous Tony made hrs frrst professronal stage appearance at the tender age of twelve playrng a chrrpy lrttle cockney urcnrn rn the orrgrnal productron of O/rver/

Little known facts (part two) Tony has wrrtten srxteen books for chrldren as well as umpteen televrsron scrrpts As the creator of medreval krds romp Mard Mar/on, Tony scored a shelf-load of gongs rncludrng a BAFTA and the lnternatronal Prrx Jeunesse Mard Mar/on The Mus/cal was also a successful stage adaptatron whrch saw Robrnson repeatrng hrs role as the dastardly Sherrff of Nottrngham

No relation to Tonr Morrrson, Mary Robrnson, Robrnson Crusoe

(Allan Radclrffel

we Trrne Team, Channel 4, starts Fr/ 25 Aug, 6pm