You'd be better off joining Colonel Blashford- Snell in search of The Beast of Bardia (Sun C4), this week's Encounters offering. The "beast of Bardia" is a large, elephant-like creature occasionally spotted causing havoc in a remote corner of western Nepal. (It's rather fond of salt, and won't let a mere trifle like four walls come between it and a shot of sodium chloride.) Blashford-Snell is leading an assorted party of scientists and adventurers on an expedition to locate and photograph this beast, which could be some sort of mammoth. The clue seems to be the size of bumps on its head. More intriguigingly, there's a slight resemblance to Eddie Izzard about this Blashford-Snell, which is coupled with a reassuring fondness for cocktails at sundown.
The thrill of that chase is far more genuine and exciting than anything in The Writing on the Wall (Sun BBC1), a new, four-part "post-cold war thriller". (Aren't we post the post-cold war yet?) It begins with an obligatory gloomy post-Edge of Darkness soundtrack and a series of bombs which go off at various Nato bases across Germany. Is this the work of neo-fascists, old-style Communists, or the Russian mafia? Better call in an MI5 counter- terrorism expert - expertly played by Bill Paterson, the man every casting agent pulls in when a certain bleak menace is in order. There's a subplot about an old-style Communist (Lena Stolze) organising a band of rent boys into a terrorist cell, which is symptomatic of the general level of daftness. The writer is PG Duggan, better known as actor Patrick Malahide, Det Sgt Chisholm from Minder. You can almost hear Chisholm's voice during the script's more sardonic moments.
The admirable Dancing in the Street (Sat BBC2) continues along its badly scheduled way (surely most of its target audience is doing other things on a Saturday night), with a look at the influence of LSD on rock music. Many of the survivors from San Fransisco reminded me of that line from the Alex Cox movie Repo Man, when Emilio Estevez asks the spaced-out odd- job man whether he "took a lot of acid in the hippy period". A former member of the Grateful Dead remembers how the band "dosed" the Warner Brothers A&R men who had been sent to sign them: "We wanted them to be our friends."
And on the subject of flower power, William Morris: the Earthly Paradox (Sun BBC2) is a centenary (of his death) reappraisal of the poet-designer. The paradox is how this revolutionary socialist - and author of News from Nowhere - is now best-known for providing wallpaper to the middle classes.Reuse content