TELEVISION / Going Cuckoo on Cap Ferrat: Andy Gill on a Dirk Bogarde novel on film and the memoirs of the Chingford skinhead

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'We have not even been introduced,' said Anouk Aimee to Samuel West early in Screen Two's Voices in the Garden (BBC2). 'I am Cuckoo.' And so she was, flinging herself into the sea with a big bag of rocks around her neck. West, playing the Brit back- packer Mark, dutifully dived in and carried her back to the Cap Ferrat mansion she shared with Archie (Joss Ackland), a reclusive expatriate historian whose all-consuming interest in the past was too squarely contrasted with the youthful exuberance of Mark and his bolshy German girlfriend Leni (Kashia Figura).

You could tell Mark was a free spirit because his T-shirt bore the legend 'Born to Be Wild'. It was this kind of subtle touch that characterised a prettily-set moviette which mused none too interestingly upon youth, beauty, age and illness. Lee Langley's script, adapted from Dirk Bogarde's novel, had an old-folks idea of gay young things. The young people at Archie and Cuckoo's party chased one another around frantically, peeling off their clothes at the drop of a hat - or a chemise or a dress. Meanwhile the hosts wandered through the proceedings as if anaesthetised. Perhaps Bogarde, who had a house in the area for some years, only ever saw young people in Club 18-30 mode, which serves him right for living in a resort.

Joss Ackland, of course, was fine as Archie, transmitting a kind of fin-de- siecle world-weariness, which he juiced up occasionally with one of those trademark mad smirks hinting at hidden dangers lurking within. Sadly, they never rose to the surface. Instead, all we got were a couple of revelations about Cuckoo, whose languid manner was explained by incurable illness, and Leni, who turned out to be a German countess slumming it round Europe. Women] Such mysterious creatures, eh, Dirk?

In Fine Cut (BBC2), David Yallop went in search of that other mysterious creature, Carlos the Jackal, generally regarded as the most dangerous member of the international terrorist fraternity. We were soon plunged into the maze of acronyms that delineates the terrorist subculture, as Yallop traced the Venezuelan's apprenticeship in Wadi Haddad's PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), and his connections with the RAF (Red Army Faction). He eventually interviewed someone claiming to be Carlos in Beirut, where the justifiably frightened reporter never ventured outdoors, relying upon his Lebanese connection 'like a Linus blanket'.

The connection disappeared, presumed dead, and the alleged Carlos later turned out to be a clever fake, used, Yallop claimed, by Syria to discredit the PLO, implicating it in the Sabra and Chatila massacres. It was an instructive lesson in how investigative reporters can become unwitting disseminators of disinformation for the intelligence community: many of the published 'facts' about Carlos, according to Yallop, are untrue, as is the West's demonisation of Gaddafi's Libya as prime organiser of terrorism. 'These Libyans, with Muammar Gaddafi at their head,' said an exasperated Yallop on one occasion that he tried in vain to obtain a visa, 'could not organise a piss-up in a brewery.'

The Syrians, though, are another matter entirely. Yallop finally met someone he believes to be Carlos in Damascus, where the ex-terrorist seems to be living as a drug- and arms- dealer. An interview, he said, was out of the question, but by then the reporter didn't want one, feeling he already knew too much about this despicable man. Sadly, the same did not apply to David Dimbleby and Lord Tebbit. Unlike Carlos the Jackal, Norman the Polecat was only too pleased to talk about his career in Norman Tebbit: A Loner in Politics (BBC2).

Little was revealed. In opposition, he characterised himself as one of the picadors who would dart in to wound the Wilson and Callaghan governments, before Thatcher the Toreador delivered the coup de grace - a fanciful image that rather romanticises the dirty business of politics. In power, he became a member of 'that biggest of political clubs, of ex-future prime ministers', before collecting his gong and sloping off to the Other Place.

Out of the fray, he has all the answers. 'Of course,' he claims, 'there's no good reason why we should have three million unemployed today,' conveniently isolating that catastrophic situation from over a decade of Conservative rule. His solution to the coal problem is equally imaginative: having urged greater productivity upon the industry for so long, Norman now favours grassing over the coal mountain and calling it a national monument - up and down which, presumably, we can all ride our mountain bikes in search of work.

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