RADIO / An accident that waited to happen: Nick Curtis welcomes the late arrival of Michael Wall's Headcrash, after three years in limbo, and says Happy Birthday to Mick Jagger

'I'M GONNA shoot roller-skaters, you coming?' must be one of the best offhand lines of dialogue ever. It encapsulates the grimly humorous, nihilistic ambience of Michael Wall's futuristic Headcrash (Saturday, Radio 3), a weird piece that's languished in the archives since 1986, finally finding a sympathetic slot in the 'experimental' Studio 3 season two years after its author's death.

Strong on mood and stingy with specifics, Wall's post-apocalyptic wasteland is peopled by a mixed bag of creeps, crazies, hitters and bozos. Our 'hitters' are Boy and Yuka, tooled-up and revved-up as they cruise the freeways, blowing away fellow travellers to gain advancement in a bizarre officially sanctioned game.

Yuka (Toyah Willcox) is smothered in bandages because her skin is disintegrating. Boy (Jeremy Flynn) was born in a highway pile-up, could drive before he could walk, and tries to keep a mental record of their life with the archaic words ('mother', 'crime') that pop into his head. Some time later we learn that they're related. But that's about all we learn.

Where and why this wasteland exists, who's in charge and how the game works never become clear. Hints at contemporary relevance and a vague suggestion it's all happening in Boy's head are dangled. But Headcrash decelerates to an almost apologetic halt with Boy becoming 'a real bastard', freed of encumbrances and able to kill with his eyes alone.

Even so, this was gripping stuff thanks to its evocation of the sensations, if not the sense, of a demented future world. Mia Soteriou and David Chilton provided a revolutionary soundtrack, the dialogue constantly underlaid by a driving electro-hum, its rhythm reminiscent of telegraph poles ticking past at speed. The effects - explosions, rat attacks, the scream of rending steel - were laced in to make a superb totality of sound.

Flynn was a little stilted as the confused Boy struggling to impose meaning on confusion. But Willcox was excellent in what was her radio debut, freaking out at the rodents, gleefully dismembering a posse of ambushing crazies, or eviscerating one of the 'Creeps' who enforce the game (an act in direct contravention of the rules, I might add). Of course, the theme of Headcrash is not remotely experimental. From Schwarzenegger to Sam Shepard, the idea has had more mileage than Boy could ever hope to travel. It is Wall's refusal to use the scenario as an obvious metaphor, and the technical excellence of Jeremy Mortimer's production that distinguish it. It's probably what kept it off the air for so long, too.

For the past week, it has been impossible to keep Mick Jagger off the radio. For those who've been living under a stone, that's because it was the Midnight Rambler's 50th birthday yesterday. Gazumping celebrations by two days, Nicky Campbell presented Mick Jagger: 50, Not Out (Saturday, Radio 1), a rockumentary so uncritical and uncomplicated it'll never get repeated in Studio 3.

Factually informative and entertaining, this was unfortunately steeped in the kind of rock lore that's difficult to take seriously in these post-Spinal Tap days. Campbell began by asking if it was time Jagger hung up his mojo, but slid gradually into hagiography as he ticked off all the usual bumps hit by the Rolling Stones. There was the repackaging of the band as satanic southern opposites to the cutesy, Liverpudlian Beatles; the drugs bust and William Rees-Mogg's subsequent Times editorial 'Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?'; the revelations that Mick was actually quite a nice boy. Satisfaction? Not much.

Listening to this you'd be forgiven for thinking the Rolling Stones were a duo, a sort of Peters and Lee called Mick 'n' Keef. Campbell and producer Kevin Hewlett ignored the other musicians and most of Jagger's private life (except to note that he doesn't like talking about it). Despite the contributions of eminent rockologists it was the comedian and actor John Sessions, of all people, who had the most insight.

Sessions' pinched Scottish drawl analysed Jagger's ambiguous sexual appeal: at the Hyde Park concert, the 'Little Red Rooster' had 'skin like chicken meat', and 'looked like he wanted to be laid by the garrison of a town'. But it was Sessions' mimickry that beautifully deconstructed Jagger's voice into its constituent parts: Cheyne Walk snob, American-inflected bluesman and incoherent cockney lout.

As Sessions said, no one challenges this absurd concoction because he's Mick Jagger. He's a man who made ugliness sexy; a middle-aged hipster in a medium he described at 30 as 'adolescent'; a man equally at home with Princess Margaret as Muddy Waters; half of the best living songwriting partnership and a fifth of the best rock band in the world. In short, he's a star, and as long as he's a star he can keep putting Campbell and the rest of us on.

Arts and Entertainment

photography
Arts and Entertainment
Adolf Hitler's 1914 watercolour 'Altes Rathaus' and the original invoice from 1916

art
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tvThe two new contestants will join the 'I'm A Celebrity' camp after Gemma Collins' surprise exit
News
The late Jimmy Ruffin, pictured in 1974
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Northern Uproar, pictured in 1996
people

Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the new Paddington bear review

Review: Paddingtonfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Tony stares at the 'Daddy Big Ears' drawing his abducted son Oliver drew for him in The Missing
tvReview: But we're no closer to the truth in 'The Missing'
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

comedy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible