Position Impossible Channel 4, starts Wed 7 Feb, 9pm.
Most people know someone who's got a copy of it. Whether they leave it in the bathroom for guests to have a giggle over or hide it away in the bedroom, the Kama Sutra ranks up there with the Bible in the essential reading stakes. Comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, best known for Goodness Gracious Me, sets out with the aim of discovering the origins and social repercussions of India's most famous book.
'When i came up with the idea, I wanted to answer three questions,’ he says. 'How come it came out of India, now that that country is so repressed sexually? How did it ever get to Britain? And finally, is it still relevant to us today?’ And where better to begin answering these questions than at a Tantric sex workshop in Penzance.
Bhaskar's preconceptions and ours prove correct (dancing middle-aged couples complete with saggy flesh, grey hair and beatific smiles) and having witnessed the teacher's assistant let the energy from a standing stone enter her ‘inner flute', he decided to move on to India.
For a book with a reputation for raunch, it may be surprising to find that its author Vatsyayana, was a religious scholar. Translated from the original Sanskrit, ‘Kama' means ‘desire/the senses' and ’Sutra’ means 'rules', thus the philosophy seems to be that there's nothing wrong with having a good time as long as you do it properly.
Bhaskar’s travels through India are interspersed with stand-up segments, filmed after the journey, blending comedy with more serious comment. While
informative enough, you can't help wishing he‘d stop
ls Nancy Mitford's 19305 novel paradoxical nostalgia or affectionate satire?
Sanjeev Bhaskar shakes his stick at the Kama Sutra
trying to be Mark Thomas and get back to the more entertaining footage. Bhaskar's journey throws up many contradictions. ’lndia itself is very repressed, very Victorian, and the Kama Sutra doesn't fit easily there,’ he says.
But before sex became taboo, it was celebrated, nowhere more-so than in the temples at Khajaraho. With stone carvings of more sexual positions than you can shake your stick at (including a few with farm animals) this place of worship leaves Bhaskar wide- eyed but closer to understanding the book: 'It shows that sexuality is part of life. The Kama Sutra says that sex is not sinful, but doing it badly and without love and attention certainly is.’
With the journey of discovery set to include pit-stops at venues such as Stringfellow’s, you realise that no matter what its origins, the Kama Sutra is one religious guidebook you won’t find in the classroom.
banker's arms to the r0ugh embrace of communism, while the more sensible Fanny is prepared to wait for true love, Polly, meanwhile, has secret desires of her own.
As often occurs in such |avrsh productions, the costumes can seem more eye-catching than the drama, but Love ln A Cold Climate gets better as rt progresses, and features often hilarious performances from Alan Bates as bluff uncle Matthew and Daniel Evans as the camp cousin who arrives to change everything.
This rs an undeniably distant world in which gay strll means happy, and women can tell their fathers they’re off to powder their nose wrthout receiVing so much as a raised eyebrow Yet, there rs often a certain affection in
Love In A Cold Climate 880, Sun 4 & 11 Feb, 8.45pm.
The past may be another country, but it is one that filmmakers have ViSited again and again. Like most foreign climes, it tends to be treated With a mix of fascination, distrust and amusement. Blair's Britain sought to move away from its imperial past,
away from snobbery and foxhunts and
108 THE lIST l——1S Feb 2001
superstition and moustaches. Yet dramas harking back to those days have proved deCrdedly lucrative, not least for Dyke’s BBC.
Love In A Cold Climate rs set in 19305 England. Based on Nancy Mitford's novel, it tells the story of three aristocratic girls on their path to womanhood. It is a journey stifled by conventions and strafed by the bullets of sooal snipers. Linda rushes from a
satire, and we have certainly not wholly escaped the age-old prejudices of class, ethanrty and F€|lg|0fl No matter how long politiCians talk ab0ut 'new' Brrtarns, Scotlands or Englands, the attraction of TV programmers and audiences to this kind of parodoxmal nostalgia suggests that we still have some way to go before the detritus of the last millennium can be left behind. (James Smart)
We put TV celebs on the couch. This issue: Pauline Quirke
Born Cuddly Pauline Qutrke was born on 8 July 1959 in guess where“ NO, ()0 on, guess (3W0 up“ Okay sp0ilsp0rt, London Would you credit r17
Big break Quirke first shot to fame in the late 1960s in Union Ot Dork Green, gOing on to front kids \lldl show Paul/he's Ourrkes‘ at just sixteen years-old Unlike Temple, Culkrri and Hague, Qurrke made the transition from juvenile to adult player relatively smoothly, taking various 19/Os TV roles including Ange/s, Girls On for) and Shine On Him/er," Moon
Finest hour(s) 5|l1((’ 1989, Quirke has been imprisoned in the role she's most closely identified With, that of Sharon in Birds Of A Feather This srsterly Sitcom has been running for a staggering 102 episodes and shows no sign of being killed off despite being the same every week and not particularly funny Qurr‘ke's genuine acting versatility was outed rn 1996, playing obese convrcted inuideress Olive Martin in The Scu/ptress Since then, she's added to her reputation as one of telly’s more watchable ac tresses wrth serious turns opposite Ray Winstone in Our Boy, and as downtrodden detective Mais'ie Raine And now? Set in the ‘heady' world of tOy manufacture, Office Gossip is the latest sitcom to derive its humour from the politics and intrigue of the office, complete wrth hilarious millennial misunderstandings vra mobile phones and e-mail. Quirke plays Jo, super- effrCIent PA and single mum
Not so little known fact Quirke has known Linda Robson, her Birds OfA Feather co-star, since she was five As well as playing the Chrgwell sisters, they've also been seen bickering over who has the whitest smalls in the Surf soap powder ads.
No relation to Pauline Fowler, Polly Harvey, Diana Qurck. lAllan Radcliffe)
Office Gossrp, BBC], starts Fri 2 Feb, 9pm,