Alfred Salteena and Lord Bernard Clark. Patrick Barlow's version colourfully captures the outrageous magic of the original novel while the mannered. over-the-top performances (most strikingly from Jim Broadbent as the clownish Salteena) contribute to the overall daffy tone of the piece. Only Hugh Laurie manages to irritate slightly in his role as bumbling Bertie Wooster. sorry. the Prince Regent. sorry Lord Clark. But that's only to be expected. eh? (Allan Radcliffe)
The List's TV editor Brian Donaldson explains what prevented him from going out this year
Seems strange to talk of Curb Your Enthusiasm as the best show of 2003, when the episodes we were able to see this year of Larry David’s lo- fi, high maintenance sitcom were actually made in 1999 and 2000. But. once again, this shows just how far behind the US we often are. What makes this Show so great? For one thing. its socially inept anti-hero (essentially LA-based writer Larry David playing himself in a series of bungled situations revolving around his career and private life) makes David Brent seem perfectly hinged. In every single episode he runs into avoidable trouble with someone; the list includes his acupuncturist. therapist, manager, manager’s parents, manager's wife, his own wife, his own wife's best friend. a basketball legend . . . and on it goes. It also boasts one of the strangest themes tunes in TV history. with tuba and pianola merging to evoke a silent movie classic or a porn film set in an Austrian circus ring.
DRAMA ADAPTATION THE ILLUSTRATED MUM
Hogmanay, 6pm 0...
This one—off. feature- length drama is an adaptation of the award-- winning children's book of the same name by Jacqueline Wilson. and if you're looking for something to fill you wrth Christmas cheer, look elsewhere. The woman of the title is a compulsively-tattooed. alcoholic. manic depressive. single mother-of-two played by Michelle Collins. and the story essentially deals with her mental disintegration and her daughters' struggle to cope.
While Collins shows admirably that she can handle such a meaty role. the superb performances are provided by Holly Grainger and espeCially Alice COnnor. who play the daughters Star and Dolphin respectively —‘ with intense passion and realistic angst. The adapted script is simple and effective. letting the performers do their thing, which is producing a tearjerker of a drairia Out Of a family struggling With mental illness. The Illustrated Mum might have been a children's book but it's a grown-up piece of televrsion. (DOug Johnstonel
CRIME DRAMA BRIDES IN THE BATH
Scottish, Hogmanay, 9pm 00
The notorious turn of the century ‘brides in the bath' case, in which the innocuously named George Joseph Smith
130 THE LIST 1 1 [Dec 2003-8 Jan 1/0011
was found guilty of drowning three of his wives in the marital bathtub. should have spawned a dark. sinewy drama along the lines of Ten Ril/i'ngton Place. But this ITV adaptation suffers from the lightweight presence of former EastEnder Martin Kemp in the title role. Smith, described by one of his victirii's fathers as being of 'very eVil appearance' suffers the ignominy of being portrayed by a man so lacking in screen charisma he could be replaced by a plate of boiled rice and our understanding of the story wouldn't suffer a lot.
The drama also suffers from a typically pedestrian soapy telling. where a more stylised approach would have made it more compelling. And you have to feel sorry for poor old Richard Griffiths. toppled from the (tiny heights of I/i/itliriai'l and l to sleepwalking his way through his role here as a generic lawyer-type. (Allan Radcliffe)
COMEDY I'llSlORY FUNNY ALREADY Channel 4, Fri 2 Jan, 7.30pm .000
You have to wonder who American white supremacists would rate as their favourite comedian. The history of laughter in the U8 is so inextricably linked wrth Jewrsh humour that their fun-seeking fascists probably turn to the UK for the special brand of comedic bigot we seem to produce.
This excellent documentary (narrated with a pleasingly measured manner by Davrd Baddieli tracks the development of US Jewish comedy as indistinct from the social and political landscape which helped frame their shtick. At the beginning there were the Marx Brothers. a family of clowns whose immigrant fervour poked fun at the
CHlLDRtN'S DRAMA CARRIE’S WAR BBC1, New Yea
r’s Day, 6pm 0...
A Bawdengtale raiﬂuiiy done
Children in BBC dramas are usually pasty-faced Tory midgets plucked from the London School of Posh Acting. But in Keeley Fawcett - star of this new Carrie’s War adaptation — the Beeb has discovered a juvenile lead you can actually listen to for more than five minutes without wishing her a slow, agonising death. Fawcett has just the right combination of spark and wide- eyed earnestness as good-hearted Carrie, evacuated from London during the Blitz with her tactless younger brother Nick to deepest rural Wales.
The children are billeted with Lou Evans and her shopkeeper brother, a man so mean he allows the children to walk up and down the stairs only once a day so as not to wear the carpet. Carrie and Nick find refuge at ‘Druid’s Bottom’, the home of Mr Evans’ estranged older sister Mrs Gotobed, where they are warmly received by the household, including white witch housekeeper Hepzibah (Pauline Quirke) and bookworm Albert Sandwich. All seems well, until Carrie becomes an unwitting pawn in the silent war between Mr Evans and his sister, causing her to take drastic action following Mrs Gotobed’s death.
Nina Bawden’s dark children’s novel is a time-honoured staple of school reading lists that has been adapted periodically down the years for television, so any attempt to update the old girl is bound to piss off the odd aficionado. Happily, this latest version, beautifully directed by Coky Geidroyc of Stella Does Tricks fame, remains faithful to the mysterious atmosphere of Bawden’s book while breathing new life into the familiar characters. (Allan Radcliffe)
establishment. and at the end we had Seinfeld. the first popular TV sitcom to be overtly Jewrsh. A history of derrial permeates the story. If comics weren't changing their narires (Woody Allen and Joan Rivers for twoi. they were distilling their Jemshness to gain acceptance in the mainstream (Roseanne for another). Unliker as it seems these days. this documentary is both funny and informative. (Brian Donaldson)
It r N DRAMA DAWSON’S
Five, Sat 3 Jan, 2pm 0...
The sriiartass riioiieyriiaking mogul who suggested Jack “I'm a talentless giriip' Osbourne would make an enticing guest star in the new series of
Dawson should be forced to have their forehead surgically enhanced to look like the eponymous Creeker. This small gripe aside. the Creek craic is as ridiculously enticing as ever. even if Five has nabbed it from its perfect post—hangover T4 billing. It's post-summer break and Pacey and Audrey have shagged their way around LA: Jen's parents have split up; Jack is gay and storyline-less (no
change there theni: Joey and Dawson annoyingly continue. as the dullest characters in the show. to get the most screen time. All hail the buxom Audrey then: a constant reminder that Joey's sycophantic ramblings are as painfully wet as Katie Holmes' acting abilities. The first couple of episodes aren't the Creek's finest irioments. but as a sneaky LA Viewer. the best is yet to come. (Anna Millar)