Television preview Recommended viewing this weekend
The Saga of Life Sat 8pm C4 TX - Je Suis a Stand-Up Sat 9.30pm BBC2 Equinox Sun 7pm C4 American Visions Sun 7.30pm BBC2 Travels with My Camera Sun 8pm C4 Moll Flanders Sun 9pm ITV
One comes away from TX - Je Suis a Stand-Up: Eddie Izzard Abroad (Sat BBC2), Paul Tickell's record of that tour, more impressed with Izzard's bravery than with his material, much of which is of the "a funny old thing happened to me this morning" variety. Not that the material is the thing with Izzard. As for his bravery, the scene where he launches himself in GSCE-level French at a sophisticated Paris Rive Gauche cabaret audience makes Daniel in the lion's den look like a real bottom-of-the-bill act. A lesser stand-up would have curled up and died. Eddie Izzard curls up and dies in atrocious French, and that winning half-smile - and he's got the St Germain de Pre crowd eating from his garishly painted fingers.
Thriller writers looking for a plot should turn to Equinox: Superhighway Robbery (Sun C4), a case-history of "cybercrime" (stealing money from banks by tapping into their computer networks). The rewards are huge, the penalties comparatively light - and you need never leave your bedroom. Most of Patrick Forbes's intriguing film is taken up with the case of a Russian hacker who has been stealing wads of money from Citibank without ever leaving a dingy office in the suburbs of St Petersburg. Until, that is, he made an ill-advised shopping to trip to London.
Travels with My Camera (Sun C4) sends New York photographer CM Hardt back to her roots in north-western Spain, digging around for the truth about what happened to her grandfather, shot by Franco's police in the late Forties. He was, it transpires, an underground guerilla fighter who had refused to accept El Caudillo's victory in the Spanish Civil War. "I knew nothing then, and I know nothing now," says her great-grandmother. She is a sprightly 97 years old, so maybe she does know something after all.
Moll Flanders (Sun ITV), meanwhile, is being received into the Catholic faith so that she can marry her third husband. First, though, she has to make a full confession of all her sins, which makes a very handy synopsis of the bawdy so far. I agree with our Thomas Sutcliffe on this one. Those being hypercritical of ITV hiring Andrew Davies to adapt literary classics should be locked in a room with all 23 episodes of Heartbeat - and not allowed out until they have watched every single one of them.
Talking of which, The Saga of Life (Sat C4) goes in close on the microscopic creatures which live on our bodies, and is guaranteed to get you scratching within 30 seconds - but a generally weak weekend of television means one can catch up with American Visions (Sun BBC2). The good news is that Robert Hughes is still going strong, this week looking at the influence of the mass immigration of the turn-of-the-century on American art and culture. The general attitude of the old Americans to the new can be neatly summarised by a contemporary New York Times description of Cubism as "Ellis Island art".
The big picture
Sun 9.20pm BBC2
"Gush made respectable by millions of dollars tastefully wasted"... "a brilliant enigma"... David Lean's 1970 love story is a fascinating study in pictorial grandeur over content. It is also a showcase of all Lean's strengths and weaknesses as a director. The Robert Bolt-scripted story has unhappily married Sarah Miles scandalising 1916 Ireland by having an affair with British soldier, Christopher Jones. Robert Mitchum, John Mills and Trevor Howard are the heavyweight support act.
The big match
Barbarians v Australia
Sat 2.35pm, BBC1
The last chance to see one of rugby union's greats on the big stage, as David Campese (above) leads Australia onto the Twickenham turf for what is traditionally a fast, free-flowing match. Rugby as it was meant to be played. While Campo hopes to bow out with a victory, Twickenham's collective memory will be stirred by the sight of one its own greats out of international mothballs, as Rob Andrew leads the Bar-bars back line. Get in the tinnies and roll back the years.
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