a The Sins



BBC2, starts Tue 24 Oct, 9.10pm.

When a fictional gangster announces he’s 'going straight' it’s usually a prelude to the quickest possible route back into the saddle; or, more conceivably, the driver's seat of the getaway car. The Sins introduces the latest in a long line of TV wise guys to be reluctantly forced out of early retirement.

More often seen among the ranks of those British movie actors who are doing rather well over there, chisel-faced Pete Postlethwaite has been coaxed back onto the small screen by the role of Len Green, ex- con and getaway driver whose latest spell in chokey has left him determined to reform. Dismissing his erstwhile colleagues and friends as ‘a rogues gallery of criminal grotesques who look like they've stepped out of the pages of a Charles Dickens novel', Len immediately announces his intention to seek legitimate work, far from the dog tracks and snooker halls of his old community.

lnevitably, this new-found sense of purpose comes as

, something of a shock to Len’s wife Gloria (Geraldine

James) - who is more than happy with her status as a respected criminal wife - and their five dysfunctional daughters, Chastity, Faith, Hope, Charity and, er, Dolores. Having secured a job in his uncle's funeral parlour, Len's new life leads him into a series of increasingly complicated situations.

Over the seven episodes, each of the deadly sins is dealt with in turn, with the corresponding virtue and the possibility of redemption never far away. It's a theme that’s long intrigued writer William Ivory (Common As Muck). ‘I wanted to write a drama that showed how we are capable of great sin and great virtue, sometimes on the same day or hour,’ he says. ‘How we can sin and yet be redeemed and worthy of forgiveness.‘


Pete's friends test his virtuous side

The series forms part of the BBC's much hyped package of shiny new autumn dramas. Yet, given that it's being broadcast at the end of a year in which cinemas have been clogged to the gills with self- indulgent gangster/underworld pastiches, you might just be forgiven for preferring to spend your Tuesday nights undergoing unnecessarily extensive root canal work.

Fortunately, The Sins turns out to be blessed with all the virtues you could possibly want from a television drama. It's sharply written with strong performances from Postlethwaite and James, and a host of memorable supporting turns ranging from Frank Finlay's Uncle Irwin to Phillip Jackson as Len's former partner-in-crime Tricky Mickey.

Though occasionally verging on the sentimental, lvory's script explores each of the sins in a quirky, intelligent way, moving seamlessly from moments of pathos to scenes of hilarious farce. A gangster drama that's actually good? 'Tis surely a miracle. Hallelujah! Hopefully, Messrs Ritchie and chums will be watching, notebooks at the ready. (Allan Radcliffe)

eprsode. 'I've had a few potato chrps when my husband has ordered them, but I'm not focused on food.’ What she draws her attentron to the most rs convertmg folks to exrstmg on ’prana' (God's lrght) as detarled m a controversral tome she publrshed four years ago, entitled Simply LIV/[)9 On L/ght.

Her ‘21 Day Process' InVOlVC‘S eating and drlnkrng nowt for a week before gorgrng on trrckles of Inqurd for the next fortnrght. She clarms her method rs glorrously successful, The grrevmg frrends and famrhes of three dead belrevers wOuId argue otherwrse. One such vrctlm was Verrty Lmn, whose corpse was drscovered m the Hrghlands last year, leading to an Investrgatron by


Witness: Living On Light

Channel 4, Sun 22 Oct, 9pm.

SOme people wrll do anythrng to keep tn

shape; everythmg from slrmmmg to starvrng. Even If It’s nuts, berrres and

118 THE US? 19 Oct—2 Nov 2000

'I haven’t had a meal in seven years’

water, everyone has to Irve off something. But what If your mam source of nourrshment rs lrght? For Jasmuheen, nee Ellen Greve, thrs rs the only rngredrent she needs to help her work, rest and play.

’I haven't had a meal Il‘. seven years,’ she msrsts m thrs specral W/tness

JOurnalrst James Dalrymple. ‘Thrs brutal endrng to her lrfe IS very hauntrng,’ he states ‘Because a woman wrote a srlly book and, m a moment of weakness, Venty belreved Ill rt, she dred very badly' Jasmuheen's own wrllpower rs put to the test durrng the programme, but \VIH she fast the pace? Feast your eyes on another captrvatrng Witness (Bnan Donaldson)


TV times

We put TV legends on the couch. This issue: BBC News

Born The BBC has prided Itself on Its news coverage srnce the corporation was Inaugurated m 1922.

Big break Ongrnally dnsmrssed by Churchrll as an 'enemy' of the war effort, the BBC’s radro news eventually proved a powerful tool for Information and propaganda throughout World War II, the envy of medra moguls worldwrde Including one Dr J. Goebbels. Reportrng on the Coronatron ushered Ill a new era of BBC televrsron news wrth around 90% of the UK populatron tunlng In to watch some decrdedly fuzzy gomgs-on rn Westmrnster Abbey.

Finest hour(s) Luke the archetypal nosy relative, BBC cameras have been present at every major world event of the last 40 years. Contemporary hrghlrghts Include Mrs Thatcher berng taken to task by a vrewer over the Belgrano affarr, Michael Buerk’s shockrng reports on the Ethropran famrne and Jeremy Paxman’s notonously persrstent mtervrew With Michael Howard

And now? Apparently now consrdered somethrng of a profanrty, 'news’ has been dropped from the corporatron's newly relaunched Breakfast programme rn order to compete wrth vacuous OKl-style celebrity ramblrngs on the other srde. In an equally panicked move, BBC controller and human borled egg Greg Dyke has decreed that the nrne o'clock bulletin wrll move to ten o'clock rmmedrately, In antrcrpatron of ITN returnrng to the same slot. Rumours that the beeb have trred to poach both Srr Trevor McDonald and the famous ‘bongs' are,

as yet, unconfrrmed.

Little known fact Untrl the 1960s, BBC news was confined to evenrng slots, a polrte gesture made rn order to avord upsettrng the darly newspapers. (Allan Radcliffe)

Er BBC Ten O’C/ock News, BBC 7, Mon—Fm, Sun 70pm.

STAR RATINGS t at i a t: Unmrssable i at a 7:: Very good a a - Worth a shot 1 Below average it You’ve been warned