' SITCOM SERIES
One Foot In The Grave BBCl, starts Sun 15 Oct, 9pm.
Victor Meldrew followed in the line of comedy's cantankerous old gits from Albert Steptoe to Alf Garnett, all sharing a ‘you love ’em but you'd gladly strangle 'em' quality which has been their appeal for so long. And after ten years, old Vic is hanging up his flat cap and making a beeline for the big retirement home in the sky.
Yes, they're bumping off Meldrew and putting both feet firmly in the grave. 'It feels like a quite natural ending,’ explains writer David Renwick. ‘I didn't think I had another series in me. Sometimes you intuitively know when something is due to be retired.’
While the soaps wage wars with the press trying to keep their plot- lines secret, Renwick thought it best to make less of a fuss over Victor’s departure. ’We revealed how he was going to die just to derail any sort of press harassment. We needed something that was accidental, quick and not too morbid, as opposed to some huge drawn-out process. I have a particular frustration and anger with increasing recklessness on the roads so that was an area which suggested itself. Getting run over is hardly an original form of demise but it’s either that or a piano falling on his head.’
Veteran scriptwriter Renwick first came to prominence writing, of all things, the 'producer’ monologues for Ronnie Corbett, and co-writing two series of Alexei Sayle’s Stuff and Hot Metal, the 805 pre-cursor to Drop The Dead Donkey. His most recent success has been the mystery series Jonathan Creek, starring Alan Davies.
So, was it easier to bump off Victor knowing how popular Jonathan Creek is? 'Having another project to work on which is up and running means I don't have to
Running a risk at full throttle
Mr Happy prepares to meet the Grim Reaper
sit and worry where my next paycheque is coming from,’ explains Renwick. 'lt's quite a big jump going from totally studio-based comedy to a drama which is near limitless. Jonathan Creek has such a wide brief by comparison. I am constantly amazed that I could find enough mileage in the world of Victor Meldrew.’
Aside from the obligatory repeats, Victor has been off our screens since 1997, a factor Renwick reckons is significant. ‘People have been talking about it in the past tense already anyway, and were surprised that it was coming back at all. So it doesn’t feel as traumatic a break as one might think.’ For the first of his final adventures, Victor plays to his strengths, unintentionally antagonising his long suffering neighbour Patrick (Angus Deayton) on a birthday dinner, so it would appear that he‘s going out on a high. (Mark Robertson)
modern machinery? Can safety be guaranteed in the face of an irreverSible onslaught of 'progress'? Was Einstein a mathematical mook?
The series kicks off With ’Full Throttle’, a look at the high-octane and heavy pres5ure world of motor racmg. Drivers consistently walk the thin line between searing success and fuel- influenced fatality With Scottish Formula One heat-throb DaVid C0u|thard a recent near-casualty on the track. The revelatory hook is that sophisticated electronics were banned in the early 90s and that there is more advanced technology used in a family saloon than a £10m racmg car. Yet, the risk level is a mite higher in Hockenheim than on the High Street. So, how do the drivers adapt and surVive?
If that doesn’t get yOur sCiency jUices
DOCUMENTARY SERIES Equinox Channel 4, starts Mon 9 Oct, 9pm.
You were for it or against it. SCience at school was either yOur notion of heaven or y0ur idea of scorching, Bunsen burner hell. However, the likes
110 THE lIST 5—19 Oct 2000
of Equinox have set out to remove this diSCipline from the sole preserve of unsooable eggheads and place it into the h0use of fun for all and sundry. The return of Channel 4's pioneering and entertaining technology strand asks all the cruoal questions. Will we ever be totally comfortable With
running, the rest of the series includes reports on Whirlpools (including Scotland’s big one at COrryvreCkan), the unstoppable spread of cybercrime, profeSSionals experimenting on themselves and a yOung sCientist debunking the myths of the universe. (Brian Donaldson)
‘ TV times
We put TV celebs on the couch. This issue: Gregor Fisher
Big break One of a crop of comedy talents who rose to prominence With the inauguration of BBC Scotland's comedy unit, Gregor Fisher was a leading light in Rikki Fulton’s Scotch And Wry ensemble before co-founding scatological sketch show Naked Video. Fisher's portfolio of memorably grotesque characters included the baldy man With three strands of hair, whose mingided vanity spawned a successful Hamlet Cigar advertising campaign.
Finest hour A perpetual presence on Scottish teleVision for the best part of twenty years, Fisher achieved new levels of fame as anti-herOic, string- vested Govan sage Rab C. Nesbitt. SurViVing for a decade, Ian Pattison's razor-sharp series has weathered the imprisonment and subsequent death of a key performer and the indignity of being subtitled for our friends in the south.
And now? Brotherly Love sees Fisher swapping the string vest for a stethoscope as country GP Hector Robertson. Followmg in the ‘glorious’ tradition of the USERS (Undemanding- Sunday-Evening-Rural-Scottish-Sitcom), the synopSis is SUSplCIOUSIy similar to that other 'Heiland' romp Monarch Of The Glen. Nonetheless, Fisher's role as one pomt of a love triangle alongside highly watchable thesps Tom lvlannion and Caroline Langrishe does augur six weeks of light but enjoyable fun. Little known fact(s) Those 'serious' roles. Like all the great clowns of our times (Keaton, Chaplin, Benny Hill) Fisher's consrderable acting talent has
often been overlooked. One of the
major shocks of the John Hurt-starring film version of 7984 (apart from the jarring Eurythmics s0undtrack, the full frontal nudity and the Room 101 rat3i was the presence of a youthful Rab C., Cunnineg disgwsed as Hurt’s nervy co- worker. More recently, his performance as the kindly porter in cosy children's drama The Railway Children showed a distinct attempt to distance himself from the torn pinstripe SUII and sweaty headband.
No relation to Fisher Price, Billy The Fish, Gregor Samsa. (Allan Radcliffe)
I Brotherly Love, BBC], starts Fri 6 Oct, 8.30pm.
7 i l