Television & Radio: Small screen

Pammie for all the family

The latest edition of the Broadcasting Standards Council's Complaints Bulletin makes as ever for pleasurable reading. One woman complained about the opening sequence of New Baywatch, which she thought inappropriate for family viewing. The Committee "noted the opening sequence which showed... Pamela Anderson running along a beach with a romping dog". A romping dog? What saved New Baywatch from censure, however, was not the wholesome, moist-tongued presence of a romping dog, but the fact that our Pammie was wearing a "beach-dress", thus keeping from our children the horrid truth of tanned thighs, taut buttocks and everything else thereto pertaining. Another complainant thought the Nissan Almeira advert, in which two strange people push the car off a cliff, "set a bad example by condoning yobbish behaviour". What they should have complained about was the advert's brute stupidity. "The car they don't want you to drive"? Well, if these beshaded conspirators, no doubt packing Uzi sub- machine guns beneath their well-tailored suits, don't want me to drive an Almeira, I'll go and buy a Skoda, thank you very much.

Canine fodder

Dogs are all very well - the problem is the people who come with them: little kids who hanker after puppies and then get bored, nutters with Rottweilers besieging our parks... Rejoice, then, for here comes Dogz, a computer program from Mindscape (right), which puts a virtual romping dog on your desktop, lets you pet it and teach it tricks, but demands absolutely no real-world hassles. These digital canines are born as puppies and "grow" into unique adults in 90 days, thanks to the magic of artificial intelligence. The program is endorsed by top animal behavioural psychologist, Dr Roger Mugford, who enthuses: "Dogz is an ideal teaching aid for children, helping them learn about the responsibilities and joys of pet ownership." It's available on CD-Rom for PC and Mac at pounds 14.99 from Virgin, HMV and leading pet stores. At this point, small screen's heritage of gnomic Irish proverbs pipes up - "Why keep a dog and bark yourself?"

Toy story

A question which has always bothered small screen is whether, in the song "Little Guitars" from the classic Van Halen album Diver Down, Dave Lee Roth is actually singing "Etch-A-Sketch" during the chorus. It's a conundrum of burgeoning relevance since the release of Disney's wonderful new film Toy Story, thanks to which Etch-A-Sketch, the 35-year-old drawing toy and original "small screen" (which has a cute cameo in the film) has been given a new lease of life. Sales have been up 200 per cent, and this year a new model, Junior Etch-A-Sketch, will be launched featuring a pen rather than two knobs, enabling the user to draw curves for the first time. Cool. As Dave would say: "Happy trails to you-ooh".

STEVEN POOLE

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