TELEVISION BRIEFING / Altered states of play

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The Independent Culture
Some day all game shows will be like this. CYBERZONE (6.50pm BBC2) is the first drop in what will surely turn into a torrent of Virtual Reality programmes. Two sportsmen - tonight, footballers John Barnes and John Fashanu - take on 'ordinary people' in Cyberzone, a Virtual Reality world ruled by a computer mega- brain called Thesp (James Grout, better known as Inspector Morse's Chief Superintendent Strange.) The contestants' movements on a treadmill are duplicated by a figure in Cyberzone. Overseeing proceedings is Craig Charles, who has thrown aside his Red Dwarf rags for the sort of leather chaps not seen since Rio Bravo. In between bowing before Barnes ('we are not worthy . . . you sit at God's right hand'), the Scouse host bustles around the studio saying things like 'run the zone', 'build us a borg' and his catchphrase (if that's the right term) - 'Awooga]'. Charles's sign-off epitomises the hip but hollow jargon of the programme: 'The outcome remains virtually immaterial. After all, reality is only for losers in the cyberzone.' Bizarre enough to win instant cult status.

Boxing does not immediately strike you as fertile ground for comedy, but PUNCH DRUNK (8.30pm BBC1), a new series from BBC Scotland, uses the fight game as the 'sit' for its 'com'. In the first episode of Clayton Moore's six-parter, washed-up manager Vinnie (the suitably dishevelled Kenny Ireland) discovers a talented fighter (John Kazek, the barman from Rab C Nesbitt) in a pub brawl.

(Photograph omitted)

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