There were so many reasons to choke on your cereal when it emerged last

year that the then home secretary David Blunkett had been having an affair.

Not only was the woman in question married, but she was the publisher of right wing mag The Spectator. Oh, and she was part of London’s fancy champagne-swilling set, while he was the down to earth Sheffield lad, all pies, ale and working men’s clubs. Oh, and there was a paternity suit to determine who was the real father of her son. Oh, yeah, and he’s blind: you couldn't help wondering about the logistics of the subterfuge.

This hilariously mischievous drama is a Comic Strip-style imagining of their romance and its aftermath, and (although it came out of Channel 4’s documentaries department) emphatically doesn’t set out to re-enact what actually happened. Blunkett is brilliantly portrayed by Bernard Hill as a bossy right-winger transformed into a fool for love when he falls for what he believes to be his soul mate. Kimberley Quinn, however, is shown as a selfish, vengeful bitch. You really do end up feeling sorry for the guy. Doon MacKichan is splendid as a freebie-grabbing Cherie Blaire, cooed and pawed over by a simpering Carole Caplin, and the Boris Johnston character is just fabulous. Tony Blair explaining to Alastair Campbell that he’s reluctant to sack Blunkett because he’s the only working-class person in the cabinet who’s not ‘a moron’ is a particular highlight. And the pooch playing Blunkett’s guide dog deserves a canine Bafta. Marvellous, cheeky

satire. (Ashley Davies)


The four ladies of a Harrogate patchwork quilt society like to embroider naked from

84 THE LIST 6—20 Oct 2005

the waist down. Their unclothed cheeks are pushed into view as they clamber over each other in the cramped front room. However, there's nothing innater humorous abOut a lady's bottom, and the scenario is repeated enough to make sure that when the punchline comes. it falls flat. Tittybangbang is a pilot for an all-female sketch show. and it's disappointing that this

' fact. and an over-

reliance on the make-up department’s latex, is used as a prop for writing that often fails to be distinctive or original. Maxine Bendix‘s face is stiff with plastic surgery.

yet still she opens her

blouse for a photographer to capture her pendulous breasts.

, a la Bubbles in Little

Britain. Don Is a (rubber-

rendered) old man who

orders a prostitute but scares her off with ox

tongue. And there‘s a pathologist who can't get enough of manhoods in rigor mortis. The show is set for a full run next year: let's hope the writing improves in the meantime. (Robin Lee)

COMEDY SERIES DIRTY TRICKS Channel 4, Fri 7 Oct, 10.30pm 000

When a white tiger attacked Roy Horn of camp. tanned Las Vegas magic partnership Siegfried and Boy. the bored predator dug its teeth into more than poor Roy‘s neck: it hit the jugular of overwrought. permagrinning spectaculars too. While

Herr Horn is to be wished a speedy recovery. it's difficult to mourn the passing of their cheesy show.

Magic is undergoing a revival, and it's being led by yOung. slick tricksters who presumably. given the childhood choice between a guitar and a box in which to vanish. plumped for the latter. Dirty Tricks takes up where Five‘s Monkey Magic left off even stealing some of the talent and is presented by dark-minded Scots Stuart MacLeod and Barry Jones. Regular turns include the visceral Pete Firman (who sticks needles in himself. swallows maggots and regurgitates fish). and escapologist Jonathan Goodwin. The lovely Debbie McGee puts in a cameo appearance. too. (Robin Lee)


lntractable conflicts tend to fuel political careers for military minded men who believe they have more to gain by

sustaining a struggle than resolving it. The Israeli/Palestinian quarrel is one quintessential example over the past half century. Attempts to reconcile positions have proffered some promise but borne little fruit. Too many of the protagonists behave as if they cannot sincerely survive without extending the dispute.

Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs tacitly captures this fundamental problem while also showing that the actors in this never- ending tragedy are human beings: flawed and sometimes malicious but not monsters or devils. Norma Percy's documentary offers a wealth of interviews with almost all of the major players since President Bill Clinton tried to broker an agreement towards the end of his administration (which surely needed a final accomplishment). interspersed with some fly-on-the-wall historical footage.

Ultimately. however. watching this three- parter is tedious. Not because it's bad filmmaking far from it but because the reality of this conflict is profoundly enervating. (Barry Shelby)



Sky One, Tue 11 Oct, 10pm 0

Watching this tale of a suburban housewife selling pot to rich white robotic types makes one feel like one of her customers with a whitey. Confused and nauseous. it's a hackneyed attempt at “ooh aren't we controversial, but it just highlights the quality of other contro-subject formats in HBO land. Nancy Botwin's picket- fence grass dealer (Mary-Louise Parker) and her ghastly-angsty family look bored with their lot as they interact with other reptiles in their secure neighbourhood. Watch out for Elizabeth Perkins (love interest in Big) making a very unconvincing attempt at being “the Bitchy One'. As a whole. the show is uniformly unstylish and charm-free. However. nothing compares to the horrific scenes with the black family who. naturally. supply her weed. Think Mammy Two-Shoes in 19403 Tom and Jerry cartoons. or parodies in Coming to America. Cringe at the references to corn bread; hide behind the sofa during the hootin' and a hollerin'. Quite nice opening credits though. (Morag Bruce)