There is something decidedly uplifting about this degree of dogged persistence - the head-down way in which Shaun went about cobbling together a salvage ship from recycled parts and canny barter. Michael Clifford, the director of this delightful Short Stories film (C4) had certainly fallen hard for his charms. The film included some rather surprising shots of its hero lying on a bed in nothing but a crisp white towel (not to mention a couple of those rock-video sequences in which a tightly framed pair of eyes suddenly flick open, a cliche well suited to Shaun's ice- blue gaze). Clifford was also at pains to make it clear that Kent wasn't just a man with an eye to the main chance - including scenes in which he marvelled at the beauty of a caterpillar (he plans to spend his hoped- for millions opening a nature reserve) and detailing the way he had helped those campaigning for an inquiry into the sinking of the Derbyshire (a sister ship to the Kowloon Bridge which went down with all hands).
But even if you didn't quite share the director's infatuation, the tale of sunken treasure and lonely determination was a captivating one - underwritten by a firmly expressed ethic of self-reliance. "You just don't do that, do you?" Shaun said, when asked whether he had ever signed on. "How can you be a proper rebel when you're on the dole?" The film finished with his salvage ship putting to sea for tests, but it's inconceivable that we won't see more of Shaun - he is the Fred Dibnah of the scrap world, one of those Professors of Life Studies ("If life is a learning curve, keep it vertical," he advised in the film's last moments) who have always proved irresistible to television producers.
We will shortly see the last of Preston Front (BBC1), unfortunately. Because, however sagacious it is to leave the audience wanting more, Tim Firth's drama series offers the best British comic writing currently to be found on screen. In last night's episode, Mr Wang, the Chinese scouser, arranged for Prince to visit his restaurant in order to drum up some word-of-mouth publicity. "The artist formerly known as" not being available himself, he was represented by Diesel, disguised in a vast leopard-skin coat and shades and attended by everyone else dressed as bodyguards and hangers-on. It didn't work, naturally, the evening ending with Lloydy and his friends pursuing a stolen limousine in a car with a malfunctioning voice computer ("At least Lloydy will have someone to talk to while he waits for the breakdown van," Diesel said drily, when the car was purchased in the teeth of his expert advice). Firth is now able to employ your familiarity with the characters to excellent effect, but he doesn't forget their disappointments or anxieties in the search for a laugh. It is popular television drama at its very best and it won't be easy to replace.Reuse content