65 is admired for its probing medical documentaries


Five a ive?

As Channel 5 celebrates its fifth birthday, we

wonder if there’s anything worth watching. Words: Brian Donaldson

s the spring of 1997 dawned, Britain was getting set for revolution.

Not only was the country about to vote in a new kind of govemment

with Tony‘s Tories. we were also soon to settle down with an all-new TV channel. As the clock ticked down to the first new terrestrial station to invade our living rooms since Channel 4’s technicolour digits floated into our lives in 1982, we awaited the Spice Girls (a quintet at that point: quite clever that) to herald in Channel 5 with their witty. restrained repanee.

Ten minutes after the launch, we sat silently staring at a blizzard. Five years on and some parts of the country are still waiting for the snows to clear. Many have commented cruelly that they are the lucky ones.

Ever since its complicated birth, Channel 5 has been the byword for cheap, sleazy, gratuitous television. Fairly or not. it’s hardly surprising when you consider the headlines made by Keith Chegwin’s one-off nude game show Naked Jungle, and its over-reliance on programmes with titles such as G- String Divas, Me And My Toyboy and films of the calibre of Other Men ’3' Wives. Plus, there’s the sinister obsession with Adolf and his Gestapo chums.

But what chance is there that C5 will change its tune? New programming boss Kevin Lygo has pledged to turn it into ‘Channel 4 without the boring bits’ which means more upmarket but not up its own arse. Lygo should know what he’s talking about, having moved into his post from C4, where he freely admits to having viewed It’s the and rejected tape after tape of rank tosh. And guess where it all ended up? On dear old Channel for 5. ‘I can now see that first impressions can be cheap very misleading,’ is the diplomatic statement of someone rapidly adapting to their new environs. Sleazy!

One element against its future prospects as a gratuitous serious-minded broadcaster is that advertisers are - - urging Lygo to keep hammering away with teleVISIon flaccid porn shows such as Outback Stripper and European Blue Review in order to retain its many young male viewers. Both shows are so erotic they make Panorama seem like Basic Instinct.

Not that Channel 5 is all bad. Shows worth viewing include its Saturday night American crime dramas CS] and Law And Order. And that’s about it; the rest of their output is simply bad imitations of better shows. Famin Aflairs is a marginally glossier, less ‘realistic’ EastEmlers. for Charmed read inferior Sabrina, and The Tribe is a rubbish attempt at merging Grange Hill with Mad Max. As for karaoke calamity Night Fever, it’s in a world of its own.

And it’s a sad state of affairs when stealing Home And Away from [TV is seen as a major triumph and current affairs reporting is ‘revolutionised’ by having newsreaders leaning against a desk with one leg crossed over the other. That can’t possibly be good for Kirsty’s circulation. Or the channel‘s ratings.

No matter how hard it tries, Channel 5 is stuck with the stigma of sleazy. naff, low budget and hysterical programming. best viewed through a drunken haze. Or a snowstorm.


The Front

'l The Royal _ i _ v Tenenbeums - v " Film Wes Rushmore i at a loopy American I: be the funniest film See feature and review. pages 10"and9} 30. General release. " v,; ' _

2 The Art of Star Wars}? ArtGobehindthesoenesofthe .- George Lucas empire and, yep, feel

the force. See feature. page 28. City

Art Centre, Edinburgh.

3 David Mach

Art The Big Heids creator brings us sculptures out of coat hangers, and installations from tonnes of newspapers. See feature. page 24. Gallery Of Modern Art, Glasgow.

4 The Strokes

Music The New Yorkers were the most exciting new band of 2001 and this year looks to be equally as manic for them and their scruffy fans. See feature, page 26. Barrow/and, Glasgow; Corn Exchange, Edinburgh.

5 Miseryguts

Theatre Liz Lochhead gets stuck into Moliere again for a story about a simple man and a difficult woman. See preview page 64. Lyceum, Edinburgh.

6 Joseph Mallk Music/Clubs Scotland gets a soul man to be proud of as Edinburgh’s answer to Terry Callier releases his debut album Diverse. See review, page 110. Compost.

7 Helmet

Theatre Douglas Maxwell’s new piece on young guys and computer games should cement his reputation as the country’s hottest new playwright. Traverse, Edinburgh.

8 The Oscars

Film/TV Which films will run away with Oscar? A Beautiful Mind (pictured), The Lord Of The Rings and Moulin Rouge are all in the frame. Fi/mhouse, Edinburgh; 8801.

9 The West Wing

TV President Bartlet is back as the assassination attempt continues to have the corridors of power buzzing. See review, page 116. Channel 4.

10 Vernacular Drawings Comics Canadian artist Gregory Gallant aka Seth has produced a wonderfully lavish illustrated look at ‘old times’. See review, page 105. Drawn & Quarterly.

14—28 Mar 2002 THE LIST 9