Television: Inside The Tube

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The Independent Culture
One thing that Jeremy Clarkson (above) never lacks is publicity (a fact which this very column reinforces). He recently gave his forthcoming BBC2 chat show, the imaginatively titled Clarkson, a major-league boost by announcing that he couldn't abide Americans and was consequently refusing to consider having any on as guests.

For a long time, Clarkson has seemed to be outgrowing the narrow confines of the car world on Top Gear, and the new chat show, which starts on Sunday 8 November, promises to be a good platform for his brand of rent-a-rant broadcasting. He is, after all, the man who has more opinions than a tabloid columnist. He will be putting the world to rights on such matters as the arts, food science, the countryside, Britain's sporting decline, dancing and why "it's been downhill for rock music since Camel split up".

Clarkson elucidates: "When I sat down to think about the subject matter for the series, I was surprised at how many issues I have strong opinions on." He must be the only one who was surprised. "We will touch on five or six topics per programme. For example, I'd love to have someone on talking about fishing, because, as far as I can see, standing on your own in water up to your bollocks all day long is a terrible thing to do. So I'd be quite interested to hear why people do it. I find it absurd, in the same way that I find golf absurd. I would like someone on the show who can explain to me why they don Rupert Bear trousers and hit a ball around."

It all sounds like good old-fashioned saloon-bar television.

With our obsession with dieting - the slimming business must be one of the biggest growth industries in the country - we've never been more interested in our own bodies. Naked (below), a new four-parter on BBC2, investigates how we feel about the way we look. Due to be broadcast next month, the series shows how the body maps out our life experiences.

Fifty-two-year-old Pamela says: "I am aware that I am a sort of autumn flower who is just beginning to fade a little," while Michael, 82, reckons: "I feel I'm beginning to look like an iguana."

According to director Lucy Blaksted, the woman behind such visually striking Modern Times documentaries as Lido and Hong Kong, this series is about "all the nitty-gritty things you wouldn't normally put on television in your right mind".

Talking of Modern Times, the BBC2 documentary series has secured quite a coup. "TV Sex Shocker", its film to be transmitted on 25 November about a group of sexual freedom fighters who are demanding the free availability of Viagra, hard-core porn and teenage gay sex, has prompted Mary Whitehouse (left) to come out of retirement to condemn it. JR