DOCUMEN TARY SECRET HISTORY: MAGIC AT WAR
Channel 4, Thu 27 Jun, 9pm 0000
These days. Davrd Blaine has to stand on a pillar with a catheter strapped to his leg to get attention. but in the early days of the 20th century magic \.'./as a huge d.
Jasper Maskelyne was one of the most fan‘rous British illusionists of the 1930s lillS father patented the coin- operated toileti. a period when (ll-'lOll’Et was already eating into the livelihood of the music hall stars. \N’hen war carne. Maskelyrie r'esolyed. despite being over the age of conscription. to do his blt.
He ended up in North Africa. doing conjuring trzcks to keep the troops happy But soon he was given the chance to use his theatrical skills to great effect: engineering phanton‘ attacks. creating a second Alexandria to bamboozle Gerir‘an lx;'r~l>ei's and hiding the Sue/ Canal. The f'OElllt‘, is rather less grand than the rhetoric as usual. it's all done wrth j)l;.'i.'./(>o(l and ll‘ll'f()f'ES-. i).ll this engaging. even-handed doctrine-titan. is fascinating none the less. :Jairtes Smart»
DRAMA SUN: 8 PARADISE HEIGHTS
8801, Wed 3 Jul, 9pm
Dces rt hug anyone else that Neil l/lorrissey has just one character Ill firs étf'll‘()llf"}"l./ Clearly. IV
112 THE LIST .' .‘.'
producers agree. so much so that they give him endless roles proving he's just a big kid with a rubbish haircut. a grating voice and a sleazy way with women. He was born to be Bob the Builder.
Here. he drags down Ralf Little (not that he had too far to go after Two Pints of Lager) and Pam Ferris in this jaded stOry of two family businesses at war while a star—crossed couple bridge the divide. Another teenager appears in a school production of Romeo and Juliet: this is what passes as subtle subtext in the BBC's ‘original drama~ department these days.
Still. for a good ten minutes they give up on dialogue entirely and concentrate on a pOintless chase across miles of Nottinghamshire countryside. only for Our heroes to be picked up by a vanload of mates \‘JilO happen to be passing. Dreadful. (Brian Donaldson)
BBC1, Wed 3 Jul, time
tbc 0000 “It a. “If ’
Anthony Hopkins' career has been one of extreme highs and perilous lows. Having squandered his early success in faVOur of enthusiastic drinking. by the 1980s Hopkins seemed destined for the ‘where are they now?" columns. until that dead stare and quietly threatening turn as loveable cannibal Hannibal Lecter gave his film career an unbelievable late boost. This Omnibus profile features examples of his performances that reveal the Oscar winner's remarkable versatility as an actor. as well as the usual gushing tributes from co‘stars like Jodie
~1 .Jul 7721’
DRAMA SERIES THE JOB
BBC Choice, Tue 2 Jul, 10pm 0000
When Bill Hicks died in 1994, some cruel wags noted that it also marked the end of Denis Leary’s stand-up career. Many still believe that the shouty New Yorker’s set owed much (maybe everything) to his Southern peer. As Hicks’ ticker beat its last, Leary’s material railing against political correctness, French grammatical quirks, anti- smokers, Canadians and bad music also
So, Leary quickly ditched the stand-up career in favour of MTV comic slots and a series of comic/romantic/tough guy roles which cemented his reputation as a potential Hollywood player. He also got in the news recently with persistent rumours of dabbling sessions with the post-Hugh Liz Hurley.
On The Job, Leary goes again with the comic/romantic/tough guy role as NYC cop Mike McNeill. With a wife, young son and hot
mistress to keep happy, McNeill’s lifestyle leaves him open to high criticism from his moralistic partner and a PMT-prone colleague. Still, none of that personal stuff matters so long as the job gets done. Which, naturally, it rarely does. So, is his TV comedy drama debut worth getting steamed up about? Largely, yes. The ﬁrst five minutes contains such a barrage of funnies that you doubt it can ever keep it up. And with the closing credits coming down 15 minutes later, you realise it hasn’t. Even given the propensity of US telly commercial breaks, this is an incredibly brief show. The main danger is that characters will remain vibrant shadows rather than fully-fleshed types with Leary preferring instead to concentrate on jokes about his partner’s fat ass and handjobs. And what the hell’s so wrong with that? (Brian Donaldson)
Foster and Gary Oldman. Most compelling are the portions where Hopkins offers his own views on his cheQuered life. his success and his ambivalence towards the serious drinking that brought him fantastic experiences and almost wrecked him. Thoughtful. erudite and frank. the man Emma Thompson referred to as ‘the best knight of her life'. also reveals his hatred of the British theatre community (he calls Olivier a ‘fucking maniac‘) and the appeal to his sense of freedom of becoming an American. Fascinating stuff. (Allan Radcliffe)
DOCUMENTARY SERIES TEEN SPECIES BBC1, Wed 3 Jul, 9pm 0..
Harry Enfield‘s Kevin and Perry characters
neatly sum up the general view of teenagers that they're a bunch of surly, incommunicative. moody. clumsy. self- possessed layabouts. Your reviewer certainly remembers those faraway days as such.
This considered and well-produced documentary series looks at that stereotype of our teenage years and attempts to give scientific explanations for our seemingly abnormal behaviour between around 12 and 16-years-old and. on the whole. succeeds.
The first instalment looks at the scary world of teenage girls and. mixing sciency stuff with a handful of case studies examined over a two-year period. does a reasonable job of highlighting the physical. mental and social changes that characterise puberty and beyond. The mix of technical info and personalities is just abOut right thrOughout. with the highlight of this episode being the frantic twins Rebecca and Jessica. whose descriptions of growing up are often hilarious. (Doug Johnstone)
A job well done for Denis Leary
Channel 4, Thu 4 Jul, 11pm o.
This is the television equivalent of those posters that say ‘You don‘t have to be mad to work here. but it helps.’ It's so self-consciously goofy that you know it's being pitched at an audience with the squarest of imaginations.
Scrubs is an American
comedy series about a
medical intern just out of college and into his first real life hospital. Because he's young and easy going and because the hospital is harsh and grown-up. it's like a cross between ER and Porky’s //.
And I mean that in the worst possible sense. The humour is entirely predictable and boringly juvenile. the cast a set of cardboard cut-out
characters — the misanthropic doctor. the tactless blonde — who serve only to get gags out of behaving just like you've been told they'll behave.
Fantasy sequences and a soundtrack of young people's music are merely a Cynical attempt to bring credibility to a puerile show. (Mark Fisher)
The Curious Case of Inspector Clouseau (Channel 4, Sat 22 Jun, 6.50pm) The strange tale of Peter Sellers' dumb cop begins a season of Pink Panther films.
Kings and Queens (Channel 5, Mon 24 Jun. 8pm) William the Conqueror opens up a new regal series. Glastonbury (BBC
Choice, Fri 28 Jun, 7pm; . BBC2, 77.35pm)
Kicking off a weekend of music. mayhem and.
; maybe. mud.
Elimidate (Scottish, w/c Sat 29 Jun, time tbc) Kerry ‘Bryan' McFadden
. presents a new kind of
Talking with Animals
(BBC 7, Sun 30 Jun, time tbc) Charlotte Uhlenbroek wonders whether beasts chat amongst themselves.