DOCUMENTARY THE LOST GIRLS Channel 4, Thu 11 & 18 Apr, 9pm 00.
I 3."? When Fred West hung himself. he left his Wife Rosemary as the only person to know what really went on behind the doors and in the cellar and garden of 25 Cromwell Street. In this mercifully brief two- parter. we hear from the families who waited for news of their missing daughters. Caught in a horrific Catch-22. they prayed hard that their girl's remains were not under the patio. while also looking desperately for their suffering to end.
Unfortunately. those in search of a definitive pOrtrait of the West case will also need to keep \i‘vaiting. Jumping from family to family and with only a couple of stock photos of Fred and Rose to spook us with. this CIOCurnentan; becomes tired all too Quickly: oLilte an achievement when you consider the grip this case had on the public's collective psyche. For a more inCiSive and artful work of reportage on the case. go to Gordon Burn's Happy Like Murderers.
THE FORSYTE SAGA
Scottish, Sun 14 Apr, 9pm 0000
The original adaptation of John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga is
122 THE LIST " 253,11:
THE BOOK GROUP
Channel 4, Fri 12 Apr, 9.30pm .00
They’ve called it ‘Friends on the Clyde’. It’s been hailed as one of the few British shows to fully deserve invading the Friday night US comedy zone slot on C4. And we’re told that this is a Scottish comedy which leaves the tartan in the wardrobe and the shortbread tin sealed shut.
American Claire has just moved to Glasgow and in search of fresh, interesting chums, so she sets up a book club. To her dismay, in troop people she would never have dreamed of inviting through the door in normal circumstances.
Keeping the shortbread tin firmly shut
Almost immediately, it is clear why she is so free of companionship; snobbish, vain and snide, her essential shallowness defines her.
Though not everyone has tuned into her unpleasant nature, so keen are they to make their own impression. Among the group is a wheelchair-bound kind-natured simpleton, a tracksuited well- meaning pseudo-ned, three footballers’ wives, and a handsome cad only in it for the leer.
Annie Griffin’s last TV drama/comedy mismatch was Coming Soon, a playful series about the pitfalls of a small theatre company, and held most appeal to those with a working knowledge of avant garde drama sects. The Book Group covers more bases though those who have put themselves through the dark terror of joining a reading circle will no doubt be cringing.
Happily there’s no laughter track, so it’s uncertain quite where you should be chortling; or maybe there really are as few jokes as it seems. Whatever it’s been called, you’d be more likely to borrow The Book Group than add it to your list of must-buys. (Brian Donaldson)
often held up as an example of those once— in-a-lifetime. c0uldn’t- be-bettered. never-to- be-repeated television classics. Now. through sheer audacity or a baSic lack of imagination. ITV have opted to revisit Galsworthy's tale of love and betrayal. And. while the original was a very with-it 60s version. this reworking at least has none of the bland reverence that has characterised many recent BBC literary adaptations.
Much of the Success of the series is due to the adaptation. which
proceeds episodically. concentrating on only the most important characters and events. thus illuminating Galsworthy's theme of passionate love undermined by starched commercial efficacy. with the illicit romance between Gina McKee's Irene and loan Gruffudd's Phillip being detonated in this. the second episode.
The performances are also surprismg and strong. particularly from costume drama veteran Rupert Graves who brings a sad sympathy to the role of prodigal son Jolyon, and McKee who invests her idealised heroine with a certain quiet passion.
COMEDY SERIES ALISTAIR McGOWAN’S BIG IMPRESSION BBC1, Fri 19 Apr, 9.30pm 000
Like emasculated chat show host Michael
Parkinson. impressionist Alistair McGowan suffers from IiVing and working through an incredibly insipid era. The calibre of celebrity these days is simply too feeble to Justin the eXistence of their occupations. There's also something of the ghastly cosiness of Parkinson's interviews about M(:Go\.van's programme. with the sketches poking almost affectionate fun at such despicable figures as the Hamiltons and Posh Beckham as well
as complete non- entities like Big Brother's Paul and Helen.
And yet. there are laughs to be had. it heaVIIy reliant on the sheer uncanny familiarity of the iini_)ersonatioiis (by McGowan and his under-rated sidekick Ronni Anconal and endless repetition of catchphrases i‘Smiley smiley Carol Smillief'l rather than the wit of the scripts. As ever. there are particular pleasures to be drawn from the duo's inch perfect Richard and Judy and EastEnders ensemble. lAllan Radcliffe)
DOCUMENTARY SPONTANEOUS HUMAN COMBUSTION Channel 5, Tue 16 Mar, 10.55pm 0
SpontaneOLis human combustiort is fascn’tating. The phenomenon that is. not this rank
Goetimentary on the subject. Rumours of people bursting randomly into flames have been around fer centuries. but in the last 50 years. eVidence from fire scenes have added weight to the idea. In a handful of cases. bodies have been reduced to piles of ash. except for partial lower limbs which are left intact along with the rest of the Surrounding area.
So far scientists have failed to come up with a definitive theory to explain this eVidence. but y0u can bet they won't be turning to this dreadful piece of dOCumentary work for answers. The usual parade of Channel 5 crackpots are wheeled out. while a hysterical veiceover repeats pomtless speculation over and over. and the whole thing gets dragged Out seemingly forever.
Yet another intriguing SCientific topic bludgeoned to death by lowest common denominator television values.
Top Ten TV: Camp Icons (Channe/ 4. Sat 73 Apr. 70pm; Clary. Norton. Dowling, Everett. Grayson et al. Parkinson (BBCI. Sat .73 Apr. 70.20pm) Ali (3 offers Parky some weed. Jackie Chan: My Stunts (Channe/ 5. Sun 74 Apr. 7.55pm; Cinema's most celebrated daredevil shows us his scars. The West Wing r’C/ianne/ 4, Sun 74 & 27 Apr, 9pm; More Capitol Hill capers.
Food Junkies: How We Fell In Love With Food KBBCQ. Wed 77 Apr. 9pm; The penis and pleaSures of Sugar.