times more potent. This belief has led to a prevalent black market in organs with children disappearing every day.
Until now it has not reached these shores. Nobody's Chi/d shows that the pattern of decapitation of the boy found in the Thames COUId conceivably be muti. Deeply disturbing stuff. (Paul Dale)
THE MYSTERY OF CHARLES DICKENS
8804, Wed 3 Apr, 9pm 0...
Charles Dickens once claimed. 'l was an actor and a speaker from a baby'. As a frustrated thespian. Dickens consistently combined his love for the theatre and performance with his writing career. The street was his stage ill/here he discovered many of his best loved characters. and he remained an ardent public speaker. often performing from his own works.
Simon Callow's hit West End play allows the audience to briefly live in Dickens' fascinating mind. intertwining the story of the author's chequered life with those of his memorable characters: Samuel Pickwick. Micawber. Wackford Squeers. Miss HEI‘.’lSll£lll‘i.
The piece is seamlessly constructed. with Callow giving an effortlessly dynamic performance that fully communicates the rich flavour of Dickens' novels. My only slight grumble is that this is a static. filmed play that could easily have been adapted into an intimate and absorbing piece for television. Otherwise. well worth ‘.'/£lt()il|il§; for the lucky few with access to 8804. (Allan Radcliffei
COMEDY DRAMA SERIES TED AND ALICE
BBC1, Thu 4 Apr, 9pm .0
The pitch for Dawn French's latest vehicle must have read like a headline from the National Engwrer: ‘Defrocked vicar found shacked up With flesh eating alien in Lake Distnct!‘
in Ted And Alice. French does her cosy. jovial turn as a visitor centre manager who dumps her long term bOyfriend when she discovers he would rather spend his evenings with his pool cue. Luckily. Alice's newly found independence coincides wrth the arrival of sweetly naive Stephen Tompkinson. who falls to earth in a giant Curling stone. having come to make sexual contact with amply proportioned women.
The impact of this programme is hampered by the presence of its two stars. Many will tune in expecting an updated Mork And Mindy. only to be disappomted by a piece that doesn't really know what it wants to be. As black comedy. it's limp and unfunny while being too thin and inconsequential to be dramatic. French moves ever closer to the dole queue. (Allan Radcliffe)
THE REAL CATHERINE COOKSON Channel 4, Thu 4 Apr, 9pm 0000
You know Catherine Cookson. She wrote 103 books. is Britain's most—l')orrowed author from public libraries and your mum loves her work. Even if you've
never read one of her romance meets ‘it's grim up north‘ bestsellers. this insight into her life is intriguing viewing.
Coming across on old interview footage like a Margaret Thatcher from Tyneside. Cookson used her own experience of growing up illegitimate. being shunned by the community and hating her alcoholic mother to Create a huge oeuvre. She began writing aged 46 after a mental breakdown and didn't look back.
This documentary doesn't wallow in nostalgia 0r aim to rip its subject to shreds. instead we're given interviews with the author. her friends and family. and excerpts from her work. leaving us to make up our own minds. You can imagine Cookson smiling having taken her darkest secrets to the grave. (Louisa Pearson)
DOCUMENTARY SERIES TALES F
THE GRAVE Channel 4, Fri 5 Apr, 8pm .00
It sounds great. doesn't it? A schlocky horror 8- movie p0pulated by the rampant undead and stuff. Well don't get too excited. it's just another sciency documentary about discovered bodies.
The ice mummies here are eight Inuit bodies found in the northern wastes of Greenland. perfectly preserved in the freeze-dried conditions of the Arctic tundra. Dating from 500 years ago they make an odd bunch: all female. ranging in age from newborn baby to elderly woman and all seemingly dying at the same time.
I don't recall ‘forensic anthropologist' being an option on the careers advice form at school. but it looks like not a bad job. swanning about the ends of the earth. poking at desiccated corpses and postulating wildly abOut their untimely demise. Not exactly riveting or vital viewing. at least this
BECKETT ON FILM Channel 4, starts Fri 29 Mar, 7.15pm .000
Beckett strikes when Irons is hot
For those who were forced to study the works of Samuel Beckett against their will, there isn’t a hope in hell that they would wish to suffer yet further in his company. But the ones who took the Irish writer who was James Joyce’s secretary as a young lad to their hearts will be ecstatic at this further batch of televised plays from the canon. The impossibility of communication, clingy ghosts from the past and the hopeless futility of it all are familiar Beckettian themes which permeate these dramas. A strewn-haired Jeremy Irons plays both the distressed listener and the imaginary reader in Charles Shackleton Sturridge’s Ohio Impromptu (Mon 1 Apr, 7.50pm) while Canadian director Atom Egoyan allows his camera to prowl around the soul of John Hurt throughout the immense Krapp’s Last Tape (Sat 30 Mar, 7.55pm). Both of those plays tackle the battlefields of language while Act Without Words I 8. 2 (Fri 29 Mar, 7.15pm; Mon 1 Apr, 7.40pm) simply eschews chatter at all, being mimed works directed by Karel Reisz and Enda Hughes. Beckett once claimed that he had little human feeling left within his ‘dead’ body. If that’s the case then the directors and actors here have performed minor miracles in eking out such vast layers of emotion. (Brian Donaldson)
documentary isn't stretched too thinly, an all too common fault with such programmes these days.
DOCUMENTARY SERIES THE MOST EVIL MEN AND WOMEN IN HISTORY
Channel 5, Mon 8 Apr, 8.30pm 0.
Another spurious Top Ten. this time from Channel 5. who've brought Out their
evilometer to bring us a series of shorts on nasty historical figures.
Needless to say. the list is pretty idiosyncratic: if Mary Tudor gets in for burning Protestants. surely Ll/ should be there for killing Catholics? Hitler and Stalin don't feature either. probably because there's not much a cheapo documentary can tell us about either that we don't already know.
Instead. things kick off with Vlad The Impaler. the Wallachian prince who was so peeved at being forced to board with the Turkish monarchy during his formative years that he murdered over 100.000 people. It's a fascinating. murky period of European hist0iy_ but sadly this episode has
neither the tlll‘.(} nor the resources to offer much besides a fen-x gory details. (James Smart.
I Love The Muppets (BBCQ. il/i'oi‘ .7 Af)’. (5.30pnh Tribute to Kermit. Miss Piggy. Animal et al.
The Quest (Scottish Mon I Apr. Sip/iii Danni Jason directs and stars in this comedy drana about childhood. Baring All 7t/OQ/V)’. ftlpri,‘ lee story of stripping. Gorgeous George: The Case Of Carman QC (BBCZB. Fri :3 Apr, DaVid Suchet plays the late. great advocate, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (BBC 7m 8Api‘. 8.30pm Nat Parker and Sharon Snail solve more t‘llll‘t" .lll‘L‘tltl the pii\ilegetl.
it »\:v THE LIST 111