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Piped dreams

Glen, Paul, Sarah and Wayne all have two things in common. Each is dreaming of that big break into showbiz and they all live in Sheffield. True Stories: Tales from a Hard City (Thur 9.30pm C4), winner of the Grand Prix at Marseilles and an Indie award, trails their aspirations. Glen (below) is a part-time thief and karaoke king who chases prizes on Thursdays in the Fountain Bar. Wayne, the bar's proprietor and aspirant Stringfellow, has helped him put a song he wrote about a spell in chokey down on tape, as well as enlisting Sarah, who fell into tabloid hell after being arrested for "provocative dancing" on her holidays in Greece, to record a ditty by the name of "Dirty Dance". Ex-boxer Paul, meanwhile, wants to be an actor and divides his time between attempting to hustle deals on the phone and seeking encouragement from a Tarot reader. The Tarot reader, surprisingly, predicts success, thereby guaranteeing his frequent return for a boost... Nice to see someone being successful in their chosen career.

Nice muscles

And someone else is getting somewhere, even if it is only Superman. In fact, he got such a long way with the lovely Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher) last week that the buttons burst open on his Clark Kent shirt and Mason Drake spotted the vest beneath. The big boy's secret is safe, though: Lois's highly-bleached competition decoratively pegged it seconds later with the word "resurrection" on her high-gloss lips. The New Adventures of Superman (Sat 6.30pm BBC1) just gets better and better: its combo of glam, camp, wit, testosterone and meeja jokes makes it second-to-none on the small screen at the moment. There hasn't been such a magnetic couple as Hatcher and Dean Cain (below) since Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis stopped Moonlighting, and the good news is that it's at last overtaken Baywatch in the ratings. Which just goes to show that flesh is better than plastic.

A lorra lorra laffs

Friday night has always been your big comedy night on Channel 4, what with Cheers, Roseanne, Frazier, The World of Lee Evans and, um, Brookside. But today Auntie launches a cunning counter-offensive to win back those hip young viewers. Cheer till your eyes bleed for the return of young cutting-edge comic, Alexei Sayle, with the love-child of his Montreux award-winning last series, The All New Alexei Sayle Show 2 (tonight 9.30pm BBC2). Now you can read him in the Independent every week as well as enjoying his refreshingly stupid brand of laughter-mongering, bolstered by a brand new enfilade of regular satiric projectiles. Lesbians Nancy and Spike present "Menstrual Cycles"; a Hackney Community Cable TV show deals with bike maintenance and the problems of being gay in the modern world; two time-travelling Englishmen attempt to pervert the course of history in "Drunk in Time". Nip out to the local hostelry straight afterwards, and you can be back in time to catch the first in an 11-week run of Monty Python's Flying Circus (tonight 11.45pm BBC2) - no word as yet if they're including the famous match-winning goal by Pythagoras, but we're sure everyone is panting in anticipation of seeing the dead parrot sketch again.

Or you could spend money on...

And so from the sublime to the pre-recorded: this week's video releases. First up, Out of my Head (Astrion, pounds 12.99, 19 June), not-so-Young One Rik Mayall's anti-drug video with the added vfm of music from Blur, the Shamen, Elastica and other yoof icons (see feature, above). Meanwhile, from Channel 4, comes Explorers of the Titanic (pounds 12.99), in which brave seafarers with less thoughts of the public good than an eye on a profit run the gamut of water two-and-a-half miles deep. And talking of old wrecks, George Best (below) features heavily in Match of the Day - the Seventies (BBC, pounds 10.99, 18 June), 86 minutes of contextless goals from Georgie, Bobby, Kev and pals. This might make a few boys, and even girls, happy, but others might well prefer to go over their home-made compilation tape of great moments from Crossroads.