Television: Inside The Tube

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Prolific Pen

Has the writer Lucy Gannon (above) been cloned? What else can account for her extraordinary prolificness? In the past year the creator of Soldier, Soldier and Peak Practice has penned two feature-length epsiodes of Bramwell for ITV, as well as two one-off dramas for BBC1 - The Gift and Big Cat. Instead of taking a well-earned break, this year she has gone straight on to write not one, but two entire series for BBC1.

Pure Wickedness, to be broadcast this spring, brings a fresh burnish to that old chestnut, adultery. Leading an enviably strong cast, Orla Brady plays Jenny, a nurse who finds her marriage to a solid GP (Kevin Whately) going stale. She seeks solace in the comforting arms of her hunky window-cleaner (David Morrissey).

It is a seductive subject for a writer. "I'm intrigued by illicit love, by the force, might, stealth and cunning of it," Gannon says. "I'm fascinated by the way it rips through relationships, seducing sane, committed people with the giddy joys of passion, blinding them to the cost of it until terrible damage has been done. And no one can point a finger, because we're all subject to the charms and lies of passion."

Hope & Glory, currently in production for transmission later in the year, centres on the efforts of a charismatic head teacher (played, in an intriguing piece of casting, by Lenny Henry) to turn round the fortunes of a "named and shamed" school. "It's about making a difference," Gannon explains. "Soldier Soldier was about heroes serving us and their country, living in the difficult conditions of service life. Peak Practice was about equally flawed heroes working to improve the health of a community. Bramwell was about a heroic Victorian woman fighting disease, prejudice and poverty in the East End of London. All heroes, all flawed, they all have roles which demand sacrifice, vocations which demand commitment, and ideals which they frequently fail to live up to." And they all make for rich drama.

Whatever happened to...? Andrew Sachs (left). The actor will forever be identified with one of the all-time great sitcom parts, Manuel, the dim Spanish waiter in John Cleese's Seventies classic, Fawlty Towers. While never recapturing the stellar success of that role, Sachs has kept himself busy as one of the hardest-working voiceover artists in the business. He also crops up from time in time in the occasional drama, such as Einstein: the Miracle Year, a biopic about the famous scientist which is transmitted on UK Horizons this Tuesday. And, no, Einstein wasn't from Barcelona.

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