SOCIAI DOCUMENTARY STRIKE: WHEN BRITAIN WENT TO WAR
Channel 4, Sat 24 Jan, 7pm 0000
In 1984. a raving demagogue led the nation against a powerless Iumpen proletariat. One ll‘ﬂl) boldly tried to challenge the impeachable state but his efforts were futile and the workers lived unhappily ever after. 7984 is also the name of a George Orwell book. For in that very same year. Margaret Thatcher led her party. police force. army and media Iackeys into all-out war against ‘the enemy Within'. otherWise known as Arthur Scargill and meNUM.
This bumper one-off documentary (narrated sensitiver by Corrie's Ragueli tells a very detailed story from that year of discontent when the miners scratched and clawed but found Thatcher's handbagging too tough to handle. And almost unbelievably. the songs of the year brilliantly tell the tale in themselves: ‘Take On Me' and "Two Tribes" (Seargill v Thatch). ‘Wild Boys' and ‘Let's Stay Together' (the diVided mining unions) and 'Smooth Operator' (Scargill on chat shows) are among the all—too pertinent hits of the day. (Brian Donaldson;
MUSIC DOCUMENTARY WE WANT THE LIGHT: THE JEWS AND GERMAN MUSIC BBCZ, Sun 25 Jan, 7pm 0000
If you think your poor. Violated soul can't take any more reality detritus. watch this. We Want the t ight explores .Jev-Jish
and German musical Culture since the late 19th century and its role in encouraging unity. before the corroswe power of organised fascism really kicked in. There was a time when Jewish Germans excelled and revelled in their music making. They saw its transcendmce as a means to greater assimilation Within their country and indeed they often shone out as the brightest lights (Moses and Felix MOlldOlSSOhl‘.)
But lurking on the hori/oh like an ugly battleship is the ominous figure of Wagner and the programme dedicates much of its hour revealing the depths of his anti-Semitism and influence on Hitler's philosophy. PersOnal testimonies from concentration camp surVivors illustrate the horrific and contradictory: the Nazis wanted the systematic extermination of a race while still appreciating its capacity for musical spirituality. This is serious TV and it comes. oddly. as light relief. (Ruth Hedges)
THE HANDLER Sky One, Mon 26 Feb, 10pm 0000
While most of the current Sky One hype is being Iatliered onto the plastic surgery drama
96 THE LIST 1"? .Jan 7'; l eh 9th»:
Nip/ Tuck and the impending timebomb of 24. there's another show guietly making its own impact. The Hand/er stars the irrepressible Joe Pantoliano. You may remember him from such shows as The Sopranos (he memorably lost his head at the hands of a coked- up Christopher) and moVies like The Matrix and Memento (where he got to wear a long black coat and a dodgy thin ‘tache).
As Joe Renato. he gets a tlioroiigth-(‘leseived starring role as the boss of an FBI undercover agent crew. And he's so good. that Within 10 minutes yOu'II forget he'd ever been the repulsive Ralphie. There's always a danger in a show cramming too many plot threads into one 45-minute period (there are at least three on the go at any one time here). but the writers have handled this particular Job With ease. (Brian Donaldson)
BOSOM PALS BBC1, Mon 26 Jan & 2 Feb, 10.35pm 000
It must have seemed an ingenious idea at the time: to open out and animate Beryl Cook's viVid. warin-heartt-XI urban scenes for the small screen. Indeed. this pair of half-hour specials. Joan's Birthday and Hoe Dun/lit. scripted by and starring. among others. Dawn French — who you feel
Uneventful urban tales
SPOOF COMEDY DIRECTOR’S COMMENTARY Scottish, Wed 28 Jan, 11pm .000
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An ITV comedy of some quality is a rarity on par with an honest
parliamentarian. Not since Rising Damp’s Rigsby shuffled off our screens, Vienna the cat under his arm, has the station had a comedy worth shouting about. While Rob Brydon’s adventurous new series (essentially a series of spoof DVD extras with his comedy voiceover) isn’t up there with the stuff of legend, it certainly warrants investigation. This seven-part series acknowledges the fact that DVD is now the most popular form of home entertainment but Brydon has also noted the sometimes unintentionally entertaining subtexts of those DVD commentaries. He delivers them in the guise of one Peter De Lane, a veteran TV director who has been at the helm of such small screen classics as Bonanza, The Duchess of Duke Street and Flambards. Part Roger Moore, part Barry Norman and part Rowley Birkin, De Lane is a man with a warm heart, a cosy bed and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the limitations of cardboard sets, shoddy regional accents and which colour of hats good and bad cowboys should wear. While providing his often unintentionally comic analysis over extended clips of the shows, De Lane skilfully illustrates Brydon’s fascination with exposing his characters’ deepest, darkest foibles for inspection (and often abuse). Admittedly, the whole conceit is a silly one with somewhat limited potential (which perhaps explains the short run) but it does make for strangely compelling and hilarious viewing, furthering Brydon’s growing reputation as a comic master. (Mark Robertson)
was put on this earth to bring one of Cook's chunky ‘Iadies' to life — do SthC(—?SSlUHy capture the earthy sentimentality of one of Britani's most beloved artists.
And. ineVitably. there's something comfortineg
familiar about the brassy.
bosomy archetypal inhat.)itants of the Dolphin pub (salt -of—the earth motherly blonde. oversexed Ioudmouth. spiteful old woman. transvestite ex-docker). Where these tales lose their appeal is in the slight nature of the scenarios. The point With Cook's work is that they accurately capture moments. Stretched out to half an hour. they start to feel as uneventful as an episode of The Roy/e Family or a similar dreary British sitcom.
SURREAL COMFDY GARTH MARENGHI’S DARKPLACE Channel 4, Thu 29 Jan, 10.35pm 00
A COupIe f years back. Garth Marenghi and his team surprismgly (some say utterly astonishingly) won the Perrier Award for his weird tale of a Stephen King-esgue horror writer. Well acted. technicz-tlly proficient. but lacking in VOWC and class. it was easy to believe that a telly budget would suit his Wild imaginings better.
Well. now it's finally here. And it really. really sucks. I will own up to a personal phobia of early to mid-70$ spoofery: anything that recalls the likes of Jason King and Stanley Baxter triggers some malevolent fear and stomach-grinding loathing in my subconSCious. And it made me receil at Steve Coogan's rubbishy Hammer pastiche. Garth Marenghi's haunted hospital farce has rashes spreading everywhere. but from a more general perspective. it Simply isn't funny. Sure. Marenghi looks funny when he's running and diving through mid-air but the lame lines and predictany of the purposely bad acting and silly 7( s voices wear thin immediately. (Brian Donaldson)