OO and COO.

Timothy Spall is no sucker

If you caught Strumpet and Vacuuming Completely Nude In Paradise at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, you’ll know these two made for television films are fucking bonkers. They’re the fruits an impressive creative collaboration between writer Jim Cartwright (The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice, Road), director Danny Boyle (Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, The Beach) and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (who defined the look of the Dogme film movement with Festen, Mifune and Julien


Everything you'd expect from this triumvirate of talents is on display: engagement with social issues, bittersweet working class humour, fast pacing, dynamic visuals. Furthermore, the two leading performances are tour-de-forces. ln Strumpet Christopher Eccleston plays a mad, bad people’s poet who befriends and follows into fame but not necessarily fortune the title character (Jenna G), a homeless girl with big musical talent. Vacuuming’s virtuoso is Timothy Spall, here chewing to pieces and hurling up inta ya face the role of a salesman of household cleaning appliances. The motivational tape he plays on the road says it all: ‘Sell, sell, fucking sell!’ screams his on-car stereo.

So far so good, you might think. Unfortunately, both films suffer from mono-tonality, that being manic, manic and manic. The effect, while impressive to begin with quickly becomes irritating. With Vacumming this is forgivable; the tale of unscrupulous salesmen finds some final tonal shift when Spall’s character cracks up, takes his Hoover for a swim in the sea and finally experiences peace lying on the sand in his Y- fronts. The same can’t be said of Strumpet, which suffers from a very predictable and ultimately unlikely dramatic climax.

(Miles Fielder)


LOS DOS BROS Channel 4, starts Fri 21 Sep, 10.40pm 00

This clunky new sitcom features a pair of half- witted associates who wind each other up so much that they end up in therapy. The consequence for anyone foolish enough to spend time in this twosome's company is that they

may require a spell on the psychiatrists couch themselves.

Los Dos Bros feels like a mildly amusing three— minute sketch that's been stretched into a profoundly unfunny series. In the opening episode. our incompetent odd couple take a test drive with less than hilarious consequences. For

those who like their comedy unsubtle. there's lots of shouting and mugging and carnage. padded out with visual gags. allowing the special effects team to have fun concocting a putrid feast of vomit. blood and pus. The programme looks and feels like a cheap rush-job and is definitely not worth half an hour of anyone's life, not even as background noise while performing essential household chores. (Allan Radcliffe)

FILM DRAMA MURPHY’S LAW BBC1, Mon 24 Sep, 8.30pm 0.

I've never infiltrated a crime ring myself. but surely it can't be as easy as James Nesbitt makes out in this feature length drama. The sardonic Cold Feet star plays Tommy. a cop who has only to strum an acoustic guitar at a family gathering and get involved in a quad bike race with a gangster to be in cahoots with one of the hardest gangs in East London.

The gang in question have been pulling a number of diamond heists beneath the cover of their undertaking business. and Tommy is torn between doing his job, which seems to involves casting innumerable unsubtle glances over his shoulder. and flirting with the ringleader's tasty girlfriend.

Murphy's Law pulls out a couple of nice set pieces. and its dialogue. with its talk of ‘stereotypical Irishinen' is neatly self-conscious. But such awareness doesn't stop the filmmakers piling the cliche on thick and last. and the plot itself is by turns shockingly tenuous and decidedly sluggish. (James Smart)


REX THE RUNT BBC 2, starts Sun 23 Sep, 11pm 000

British attempts at targeting the market for grown up kids' cartoons have been famously lame. While America produces genius in the shape of The Simpsons. King Of The Hill and an array of similar shows. Britain manages to come up with the lamentable Stressed Eric. Returning for a second series is the 'cult comedy' (it says here) Rex The Runt. and while it's hardly in the same ballpark as The Simpsons. it does at least have a certain rough and ready charm about it.

Rattling along at a rare old pace. the four main characters - Bob. Wendy, Rex and the hilariously idiotic Vince get involved in nonsensical, surreal adventures involving delinquent pigeons. carnivorous plants. revolting Welsh ants and. erm. Lloyd

Grossman. Listen out for guest voices from the likes of Paul Merton Arthur Smith, Jonathan Ross and, in this first episode, Phill Jupitus as a preternaturally strong mouse.

(Doug Johnstone)


With Steven Spielberg's film Al in the news, it

Wendy turns on the charm

doesn't take a robot scientist to work out how this fairly lame documentary got commissioned. Battle Of The Robots tracks the efforts of three different scientists with very different approaches to the problem of inventing computers or robots that can think for themselves. The spread of contenders ranges from a multi-million dollar project at MIT in America. the irritatingly melodramatic Hugo de Garis based in Belgium and the token plucky Brit. Steve Grand, who rather predictably works out of his garden shed.

Taking a somewhat condescending approach, the documentary paints all three in a pretty unflattering light. but it does at least highlight a lot of the less glamorous sides of scientific research long nights, funding troubles and incessant technical setbacks. Ultimately, though. this programme only serves to reinforce just how far removed scientific reality is from

i l l l l l g

Hollywood storylines. (Doug Johnstone)

DOCUMENTARY BROWN BRITAIN Channel 4, Sat 29 Sep, 9pm on.

Statistics are often a dull way of making a point or highlighting a problem. But the one that makes this programme so vital a part of the How Racist Is Britain? season is that one in eight schoolkids now plying their education in Britain are the product of a mixed race relationship. As our narrator Angela Griffen (best known as plucky hairdresser Fiona in Corrie) points out. this is more or less the prediction roared out in the 19508 by Britain's White Defence Association made flesh: “and isn't it great?‘ she asks.

The show is a frank, stylish and revelatOry look at the problems of being a ‘half-caste' in the UK from the 19608 onwards and contains testimony from the likes of Hanif Kureishi, Bruce Oldfield and Pauline Black. The season's other provocative documentaries are Love In Old/7am, I'm Not Racist But... and Black On Black. Tune in and watch without prejudice. (Brian Donaldson)


When I Was Twelve (BBC 2, Wed 26 Sep. 9pm) Quality drama by Dominic Savage on pre- teen runaways. Sleepwalkers Who Kill (Channel 5, Tue 2 Oct, 8pm) Find out just what does make mild- mannered people turn into potential killers once in the land of nod? Model Behaviour (Channel 4, Fri 27 Sep. 6pm) On the path of five young women hoping to break into the world of modelling.

Fighting Back - The Michael Watson Story (BBC 2, Sun 23 Sep, 9pm) Documenmtary telling the tragic tale of the British boxer who was left brain damaged after a bout with Chris Eubank in 1991.

Martial Arts Night (Channel 5, Sun 30 Sep, 7. 70pm) Five go kung fu crazy with unseen Bruce Lee documentaries. movies and more.

20 Sep-4 Oct 2001 THE LIST 107