SKETCH SHOW KAREN DUNBAR BBC1, Fri 20 Feb, 9.30pm 00

It's a pity that Karen Dunbar will never have the celebrity kudos of Ronni Ancona. While Alistair McGowan's other half picks up Best Comedy Actress gongs

for her coquettish Nigella 5 and pouting Posh, Karen ;

Dunbar can't seem to break free from her Chewin’ the Fat past. Dunbar does. however, have the same expressive face. the chameleon ability and a mammoth personality. all big enough to carry the show. But so much of the humour is grounded in Scottish culture that the potential is limited. That innate Scottishness is part of the show’s charm. admittedly, but the jokes quickly wear thin and some set-ups dangle mid-dialogue, as if hoping that a punchline will come to the rescue. That said. there are

some promising touches

a few animated sequences. talking pigeons but some targets are just too easy: the Cheeky Girls. ned culture and hen night limos are never going to elicit more than wry (and reluctant) recognition. (Maureen Ellis)


THE LEGEND OF PASTOR BILL Five, Sun 22 Feb, 3.45pm 00”

It's easy to be cynical and sneer at American evangelical preachers. but for every crooked. two-faced chancer fleecing the church fund

there's someone like Pastor Bill. His melodramatic performance style may

grate with more reserved

British audiences. but his Sunday Schools in New York attract thousands of kids every weekend. and they help to give hope to children from some of the most deprived. desperate backgrounds in America. For decades Pastor Bill has run his Christian schools more like game shows. encouraging kids with prizes and events to keep them stimulated. It's a huge operation. and getting bigger all the time.

This considered and even-handed documentary manages skilfully to tell the story

without coming down on

either side. preferring to let the footage and interviews carry the weight. The neutral approach results in an intriguing look at a strange world and even makes the viewer ask questions about their own attitude to life. (Doug Johnstone)



Sky One, Sun 22 Feb, 10pm m

Mile High takes as its central conceit the notion that the life of an air steward is something to be envied a never ending whirlwind of sex and pool parties rather than a thankless frozen- rictus glorified waiting gig. barely recompensed by the $212,000 per annum salary. So. cue lots of Hol/yoaks-style wish-fulfilment fantasy. as the cast of beautiful young things swan around the terminals. bitching, partying and falling in and out of love and bed with each other.

The cast is so uniformly .

glossy and shiny they look as though they may have been hewn from plastic in Saruman’s

underground lair. And, of course. the naughty bits are actually rather more coy than racy. But this isn‘t terrible as escapist tripe goes. delivered at

breakneck speed with all

the mindless viewing compulsion that utterly predictable nonsense brings. Bring back Alan Cumming, Forbes Masson and The High Life, please.

(Allan Radcliffe)

COMEDY DRAMA CATTERICK BBCS, Sun 22 Feb, 10.30pm one

From Big Night Out to Shooting Stars. Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer have always done a good line in surrealist nonsense. So when they announced that their latest venture was a comedy drama about two brothers. there were fears that the boys had gone all serious on us. As if. Catterick is even more bizarre than Vic and Bob's previous offerings.


Only this time. they've got a plot to attach their offbeat vernacular and quirky characters to.

Mortimer plays Chris. a former squaddie who returns home in search of the son he never knew. Reeves is Carl, the hirsute younger

brother Chris left behind.

But that's just the tip of the surrealist iceberg Reeves also appears as Detective Inspector Fowler, a New York cop whose hilarious milk bottle glasses and mispronunciations must have had his fellow cast members corpsing at every take. And co-stars Matt Lucas and Reece Shearsmith bring bags

BBC1, Mon 23 Feb, 9pm .0

of Little Britain daftness and League of Gentlemen darkness respectively. (Kelly Apter)


THE CARROT OR THE STICK Channel 4, Thu 26 Feb, 9pm 0”

‘The team that brought you Wife Swap' is a


phrase to strike fear into viewers everywhere. and this latest slab of reality daftness is as irritating and compulsive as previous forays into the field. The basis is simple: which motivates better. reward or punishment? So to find out let's take a bunch of slacker volunteers, stick half of them in an extreme boot camp, the other half in a ridiculous hippie commune, and see who fairs best in head-to- head trials.

And so we see the Carrot Team meditating in a tepee. banging bongos and throwing frisbees. while across the Brecon Beacons the Stick Team get shouted at by a scary sergeant major in the pissing rain. The hippies are so mind- numbingly irritating that by the end you're desperate for the Stick Team to come out on top. even if they all turn into fascists as a result. Long live reality TV. (Doug Johnstone)

, he politics ofjmaking dodgy comedy


Truman Capote famously said of Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls: ‘That’s not writing, that’s typing!’ Perhaps if he’d been commissioned to review the BBC’s lame new Westminster satire The Deputy, he might have quipped: ‘That’s not acting, that’s standing about and talking!’

The lack of dramatic subtlety here is rather surprising, as the series sports what you might imagine to be a rather sterling cast. We have Dervla Kirwan as the government chief whip, Jaye Griffiths as an ambitious junior minister and Warren Mitchell playing the deputy prime minister as a rather unrefined bruiser, ill-at-ease in his starched suit and the back-stabbing corridors of power (I wonder who that character could be based on?). There’s also that celebrated thespian Jack Dee playing Jack Dee playing a weasly minister trying to scrabble his way up the greasy pole.

The main problem for this talented band is the stilted nature of the script, which allows the cast about as much room for manoeuvre as a sardine in an oversubscribed tin. While aspiring to coruscating wit, the one-liners are so riddled with clichés as to reduce the characters to rigid stereotypes. Thus, Kirwan is saddled with the standard ‘hard-faced bitch who “doesn’t give a fuck” role’ and Mitchell simply transfers his mannerisms from Dalziel and Pascoe while Dee simply curls his upper lip towards his nose. There’s also a relentlessly exuberant jazz saxophone on the soundtrack that merely succeeds in augmenting the overall irritating nature of this televisual experience.

(Allan Radcliffe)

19 Feb—4 Mar 2004 THE LIST 1 1 1