Television preview

Eurovision Song Contest Sat 8pm BBC1 Alexander: the God King Sat 8.25pm BBC2 A Man of No Importance Sat 9.45pm BBC2 Best Night Sun 9pm BBC2 Everyman Sun 10.55pm BBC1
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
George Best, Albert Finney, the Eurovision Song Contest... Anyone falling asleep in 1966 and waking up this weekend could be forgiven for thinking that not much had changed in the intervening 30 years. But then ain't that the way now, from Britpop to Euro 96 (echoes of the 1966 World Cup). There's even "Uncle" Bob Monkhouse presenting The National Lottery Live (Sat BBC1). Bernie, the bolt.

To say that the Eurovision Song Contest (Sat BBC1) is kitsch is a truism, but what it has also been, since it became becalmed in Ireland, is deadly boring. Am I mistaken, or was that exactly the same Terry Wogan travelogue we've had to sit through for each of the last three years? Get me out of here. To Norway, in fact, land of nul points no longer, and a place where people still cherish the contest enough to throng the streets - as last year - when they win. I can't see that happening here if Gina G (an Australian - De Gaulle was rightly suspicious of our historic ties) should triumph for the UK.

George Best is remembered not just in one programme, but in a whole evening of the blighters, in the succinctly titled Best Night (Sun BBC2). This may seem a singular honour, until you remember that we are dealing here with a potent double-bill of football (and in particular Manchester United) and nostalgia (in particular the 1960s). Hey, it worked for me.

It is enough to make you think, though, that Rupert Murdoch's Sky is the only forward-thinking TV outfit serving this country. No wonder kids are keener on satellite than their parents.

It's the 1960s, wouldn't you know it, in A Man of No Importance (Sat BBC2), this week's Screen Two. Barry Devlin's film was selectively exposed to cinema-goers last year, when some critics - our own Adam Mars-Jones included - found it unbearably fey. I disagree. It's bearably fey. Albert Finney plays an Oscar Wilde-obsessed Dublin bus conductor, who recites poetry to his passengers by day, and sets about staging Wilde's Salome at his local church hall by night. A severe but loveable closet case, Finney is secretly in love with his driver, Rufus Sewell, whom he calls "Bosie" - while everyone else mistakenly thinks he has the hots for his Salome, Tara Fitzgerald.

It's not a good weekend for orthodox religion, which receives a double- pronged assault from Alexander: the God King and Everyman. Alexander the God King (Sat BBC2) looks at the legacy of that brilliant Macedonian thug, Alexander the Great, who came to conquer the world from the Nile to the Ganges. Alexander - an ugly looking brute if clay reconstructions of his father's skull are anything to go by - was the first temporal leader in history to see himself as a deity. Not even the pharaohs went that far. The idea took seed, and it's arguable that the early Christians were merely following the fashion of the day when they annointed their prophet the Son of God.

The present series of Everyman (Sun BBC1) goes out with a bang (or is it a crunch?) by contemplating God, the universe, UFOs and the end of time. All this just before bedtime on a Sunday night, too. Mankind is doomed, by the way. If the universe continues expanding, all matter will turn into radiation. If it starts contracting, the sky falls on our heads and we all get crunched. It's enough to make you feel quite nostalgic for the good old 1990s.

Comments