on the box

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
We're following America in having our pulses raised to dangerous levels by ER. In the week ending 24 March, America's top-rated series was Channel 4's second most popular programme (after Brookside), netting a healthy 3.77m viewers. Its white-knuckle pace has left domestic doc dramas like Casualty and Cardiac Arrest looking sadly pedestrian. Pray that the smouldering George Clooney zaps the reported blandishments of Hollywood money men offering him the role of Batman and stays soothing brows in the Emergency Room.

TV not violent enough shock horror. The LWT switchboard was jammed, as they say, last weekend with outraged film buffs complaining about what they saw as the censorship of Robocop (right). Quite a turn-up in the age of V-chips and tightened codes of decency for broadcasters. Broadcast on ITV at 10.05pm last Saturday, the film was so heavily cut that certain scenes were deemed incomprehensible. With the proliferation of videos for hire and films being run uncut on satellite, terrestrial broadcasters tamper at their peril.

There are likely to be just as many - if not more - complaints about Karaoke and Cold Lazarus, Dennis Potter's final TV dramas. Which other writer could continue to goad the newspapers two years after his death? The tabloids have been foaming at the mouth about the amount of swearing in these works (more than 40 separate instances), to be broadcast on BBC1 and Channel 4 from 28 April. In the hailstorm of hype, though, it has been easy to overlook one of the most intriguing aspects of the current Potter-fest - the stage revival of his Blue Remembered Hills at the National Theatre from 2 May. Directed by Patrick Marber, this production features Geraldine Somerville (Penhaligon from Cracker) and Steve Coogan, and raises the question of what Alan Partridge would have made of Dennis Potter. Would he, for instance, have asked him what his autobiography was about?