the Film Festivals Michael Powell Award for Best New British Film. (Miles Fielder)

ANIMATION CAPTAIN SCARLET 8802, Mon 10 Sep, 6.20pm 000

Unsurprisingly. given the current televisual obsession with all things nostalgic. yet another Gerry Anderson 608 puppet series is dusted down and digitally re- mastered.

2068 AD. and Earth is under attack from the Mysterons. a race of ruthless extra- terrestrials. capable of taking over human minds and bodies. World seCurity organisation Spectrum is our last line of defence against the alien threat. Top Spectrum agent is Captain Scarlet. the one


Scottish, Thu 6 Sep, 9pm 0.

Perhaps we’ve just been spoilt. After years of quality hard-nosed cop shows such as Prime Suspect and Cracker and the reliably addictive, solid dramas like Frost and Morse, it seems like a backward step into a dark and miserable alleyway to have Rebus

thrust upon us.

While Ian Rankin’s books have had the length and scope to throw in balls of loose threads which usually take around 400 pages to

man which 'fate has made indestructible‘. after a run-in with the

i Mysterons.

Captain Scarlet was a departure for Anderson: the jolly underwater japes of Stingray and Thunderbirds‘ altruistic rescues are absent. replaced with gritty action and violence. and a suitably high puppet bodycount. It's all great fun though, easily belying the inherent lack of drama stemming from a hero which cannot be killed. And. it featured a cast of cool. colour- coded characters some 25 years before Reservoir Dogs.

(Scott Montgomery)


Channel 4, Thu 13 Sep,

‘Olivier could be very camp, and very flowery but I don't think it necessarily follows that he was dancing at the other end of the ballroom.‘ Biographer

entangle, tighten and then find themselves tied with satisfaction at the end, the TV adaptation has attempted to cram it all into 90-minute chunks. Last year’s debut ‘Black And Blue’ had enough cliched tension and familiar plot twists to keep you entertained. The first one in the new batch is simply cliched and familiar. ‘The Hanging Garden’ includes many scenes of bleak Georgian streets and driving rain accompanied by a wailing soft-rock guitar riff while John Hannah breathes weighty lines about having to ‘pay a price’ or fakes asexual tension with his female superior. All the while, his wee girl is in a coma, the victim of a hit-and-run which you just know will be connected in some tenuous way to

the bigger picture.

Roger Lewis' fruity analogies apart, this documentary chronicling the maelstrom of romantic madness between Vivien Leigh and Sir Larry struggles hard to find a balance between the sensationalist and the earnest.

Olivier is revealed to be an egomaniacal thespian whose allegiances. especially with his first wife and critic Kenneth Tynan. were more often than not used for his own creative advancement. Leigh. the obviously more gifted film actor, is a tormented flame suffering from undiagnosed forms of nymphomania.

Sir Ian McKellen‘s narration is solid enough as is the older footage and interviews with John Mills. Alan Bates and Tarquin Olivier, but this is ludicrously overlong and way too manipulative to really convey the genuinely tragic nature of this showbiz affair. (Paul Dale)

SITCOM ’ORRIBLE 8802, Mon 10 Sep, 9.30pm 000

Like calling y0ur band Garbage or The Terribles. you really hope that fate isn't being sorely tempted when you call a new sitcom 'orrib/e. Thankfully, this is not completely the case here as Johnny Big

I K.

Ricky Grover and Johnny Vaughan: Acton comdy

Breakfast Vaughan spreads his small screen wings with his writing and acting debut. Vaughan plays Paul Clarke. a dim, wideboy taxi driver from Acton. who harbours a desire. if not the skills. to play with the big boys who inhabit London's criminal undenNond.

It's kind of surprising that this isn't bad. Holding a tracksuited. skip-hat wearing taxi driver up as a loveable rogue would normally seem like a very bad idea. but it is pretty funny, if a little obvious. Vaughan has smartly placed himself in a role which doesn't stretch him and stylistically ’orrib/e enjoys more drama than sitcom production values. Not brilliant. but nowhere near as nasty as the name suggests.

(Mark Robertson)

Hannah and some sisters ruin Rebus

Throw in rival Reekie gangs, Bosnian refugees forced into prostitution and Nazi war criminals and your suspension of disbelief will be tested to the very limit. If you feel the need for more of this torture, ‘Dead Souls’ and ‘Mortal Causes’ are aired over consecutive Thursdays. Rankin’s books may have had you rapidly turning the pages, but the televised efforts will only make you to race for the remote. (Brian Donaldson)


8801, Wed 12 Sep, 9pm 0000

Last week. the BBC was roundly lambasted at Edinburgh's Television Festival by ITV's David Liddiment of all people. for failing to live up to their public service broadcasting pledge. Doubtless. the corporation will be exhaustively promoting this ambitious documentary co- production as evidence of their commitment to Quality programming.

The series aims to explore the complete natural histOry of the Earth's seas and oceans. a marginalised area when it comes to broadcasting. despite the fact that 70% of the planet's surface is covered by water. The first episode alone

' manages to pack in an

aquatic cast of. literally. millions as well as tidal waves of breathtaking


The BBC and the Discovery Channel do this kind of natural history film so well that it's often easy to take for granted the artistry behind them. From David Attenborough's intelligent. accessible commentary to the beautiful underwater and location photography this alone is well worth the licence fee.

(Allan Radcliffe)


THE MOST EVIL MEN IN HISTORY Channel 5, Mon 10 Sep, 8.30pm 00

Such a sensational title could only have emerged from one of the crazy sessions at Channel 5's (non) think- tank. The series focuses

on historical figures so universally loathed that their names are now only taken by rottweilers: Hitler, Stalin, er. Pot. and the great granddaddy of 'em all, Nero.

Nero famously fiddled while all around him, Rome burned. Actually, this is pretty unlikely as he was on holiday at the time and the fiddle was invented centuries after his death. Otherwise. the cross-dressing tyrant enjoyed a lusty relationship with his mother then had her murdered when the heat in the basilica got too much for him. kicked his pregnant wife to death. bankrupted the empire and effectively brought Rome's golden age to an end.

This is typically piledriving stuff from C5. complete with lurid reconstruction and disapproving voiceover. Naturally, it didn't occur to the documentary- makers to explore the notion that absolute power corrupts absolutely. instead producing a simplistic. tabloid history lesson. (Allan Radcliffe)


Top Ten TV: Hard Men (Channel 4, Sat 8 89;). 9.05pm) Who's the IOnghest: Tony Soprano. Terry McCann or Mr T? The Sketch Show (Scottish, Mon I 0 Sep, 70.30pm) Steve Coogan and Henry Normal bring us their new comedy series starring wits like Tom Vine.

Lee Mack and Ronni Ancona.

Technics Mercury Music Prize (Channel 4, Wed 72 Sep, 77pm) Jo Whiley and Zoe Ball present the album of the year award. Our money's firmly on Super Furry Animals. Which means Radiohead will win.

Sci-Fi Weekend (C/ianne/S, Sat 75 & Sun 76 Sept” UFOs. aliens. loopy DNA. intergalactic ro72ers: it‘s the whole SCI-fl shebang.

Armadillo (BBCQ, Sun 16 Sep, 9pm) William Boyd's tale of shady loss adjusters starring Stephen Rea. Catherine McCormack and Neil Pearson.

(3 Set) 20 Set) 2001 THE LIST 109