evening favourite Heartbeat. well. the path to stardom is strewn with ropy roles. Welcome then to The Royal, a benign drama aimed at those who fondly recall an innocent time when the back door could safely be left ajar so the neighbours might pop in and sample the freshly baked gingerbread. Ovenden's David Cheriton is the hip doc who exchanges swinging London for a Yorkshire Dales' cottage hospital. 'Don't you have bleepers’?‘ enquires green—as-a-glade Cheriton, provoking raised eyebrows among the Royal's supporting cast of Carry On types (stern Matron. eccentric surgeon and comical porters included). Undemanding and utterly predictable. this Will nonetheless prove a wholesome pleasure for Viewers who prefer their medical drama high on sentiment and low on body count. (Allan Radcliffe)


Oh the irony. A programme about dieting that's as flabby as the poor woman who says she's embarrassed at swimming in public. 'My weight is mainly round my bottom.‘ she says when we can see her weight is mainly round her body.

There are moments when it looks as if it's abOut to say something worthwhile why dieting women lose husbands as guickly as the

pounds. and the way 99% of slimming champions revert to their original obesity but for the most part, it just fills in time following unremarkable case studies.

It makes a stab at topicality with the slow of Michele Deakin who was used by Peter Foster Cherie Blair‘s least favourite estate agent to fraudulently market the Deakin Diet aka ‘Michele's Miracle‘. but really it's a lightweight portrait of a heavyweight issue. Best line: ‘The trouble with grapes is you eat too many . . . 12 grapes is one podion.’

(Mark Fisher)


8801, Sat 25 Jan, 9pm 0..

The Murder in Mind series of one-off psychological thrillers throws up a mixed bag of watchable drama. and this latest series looks like providing more of the same easily digestible television fare. First up this time is Echoes. a simple enough murder mystery which switches between a modern day haunted house and the murderous events 100 ago which provided the ghostly presence.

It's not exactly groundbreaking stuff. but the basic plot and

Wewing the fat

dramatic tension are handled professionally and with a directorial touch refreshingly free of melodrama. There are solid performances throughout the cast. especially the engaging Tara Fitzgerald as the investigating wife who ropes in a medium to sniff out ghosts and James Wilby playing both the modern day caddish husband and the wealthy Victorian philanthropist with a secret. Decent if not great drama. which is more than can be said for many of its rivals. (Doug Johnstone)


GOD ALMIGHTY Five, Tue 28 Jan, 10.50pm 00.

Strange one. this. The basic premise here is of a chat show hosted by Clive Anderson. in which he lets the guest play God and finds out exactly what they would change about the world. The success of any chat show is based on the amiability of its host and the Quality of its guests. With respect to the former. Anderson is a pretty good choice to front proceedings. with his nervy disposition belying a sharp sense of humour and an equally sharp tongue. Guest for the first episode is the somewhat unsensational Mark Lamarr, the man

' whose own sharp

tongue has failed to save Never Mind the Buzzcocks from being one of the worst

programmes on telly.

Nevertheless. God Almighty zips along fairly swiftly (like Room 707 without the Paul Merton

distractions) and there

are enough laughs to suggest it might be w0rth a return visit. Depending on the guest. obviously.

~ (Doug Johnstone)

Chewing the fat


Five, Tue 28 Jan, 10pm 0..

Boomtown begins with a

wiseacre musing over the fact that Los Angeles lacks an impressive river.

unlike most major cities across the world.



Oozing with significance. it may give you a clue

about the show's

undercurrents but the moment also manages to be horribly naff. Which is the only way you can sum up this latest US import. which did terrific business in the States on its opening night in September and includes faces you may partly recognise from Ally McBeal, Murder One and New Kids on the Block.

Pulp Fiction meets Rashomon is the tagline for this drama where the crimes are seen from various viewpoints: the DA‘s. the tough cop's. the manipulative journo's

' etc. But when you have

characters spouting

Channel 4, Sun 19 Jan, 12.10am; Tue 21 Jan, 10.30pm O...

. Imprisonment of the mind and body has been one of the big subjects for - artists over the centuries. Everyone from Dostoevsky to Ronnie Barker

lines Such as: ‘I don't remember names: all I

can see is their faces.‘

you can't help but reach

for the sickbag and

search Out your Sopranos/Vi/est Wing

back catalogue for a decent dialogue fix.

(Brian Donaldson) .

V and stirring

have tackled this area with blistering success. But as Tony Garnett’s latest production Buried shows us, you can try to get philosophical or funny but when you find yourself within those walls, tearing of both spirit and flesh is

all too inevitable.

More closely related to 02 than Cell Block H, this eight-part series

directed by Kenny Gas Attack Glenaan can best be described as a gloomy,

. dreamy look at what being inside does to the human will - even if it’s

nothing less than you deserve. Lee Kingley (Lennie James) is doing a

stretch for GBH but planning an appeal he is sure will lead to freedom. But j those around Lee are out to make life tough for each other and easy for

themselves. Even trying to get hold of a library law book or phone cards becomes a tortuous process of negotiation with the chief prisoners.

Within the first ten minutes, you conclude that you can’t watch another scene of inmates staring menacingly at each other over the pool table, screws cracking inconsiderate jibes and our hapless psychologist coming up against another emotional brick wall (if ever someone is doomed to end up with a faceful of scars, I’m afraid it’s him). But keep going, because by the end of the second episode, with its brutal act of self-destruction, you’ll actually be gasping for more. Stirring stuff. (Brian Donaldson)

16—30 Jan 2003 THE LIST 95