Television preview Recommended viewing this weekend

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
Flowers of the Forest Sat 9.30pm BBC2

Inside the Fame Factory Sat 11.25pm C4

The Natural World Sun 5.45pm BBC2

Equinox Sun 7pm C4

Sometime, Never Sun 10pm ITV

The South Bank Show Sun 10.45pm ITV

What's the difference between a Rottweiler and a social worker? At least with the Rottweiler you stand a chance of getting your child back.

This joke is the only moment of attempted humour in Michael Eaton's well- crafted Screen Two drama Flowers of the Forest (Sat BBC2) about a social worker who thinks she has uncovered a satanic child abuse network in a rural Scottish community. Although it is not about the infamously unsubstantiated Orkney Satanic child abuse cases, it was obviously inspired by them - and Eaton's main aim seems to be to illustrate how the social services might have reached their outlandish conclusion. Pauline Collins - you remember, she of Shirley Valentine and the marriage to John Alderton - is the nominal star (she plays a bible-bashing therapist helping on the case). But the really stand-out performance comes from Lia Williams as the social worker whose increasingly deranged convictions fuel the inevitable dawn raid of the children's homes. I last saw Williams murdering men down in Brighton, in Michael Winner's movie version of Helen Zahavi's Dirty Weekend. This marks a considerable extension of her range.

As indeed, the sitcom Sometime, Never (Sun ITV) marks an extension in the range of actresses Sara Crowe and Ann Bryson - stars of those Philadelphia cheese adverts. Crowe plays a passed over thirtysomething teacher keen to settle down. Bryson is her close friend and landlady - only too keen to point out the pitfalls of settling down. A sort of Women Behaving Badly, Jenny Lecoat's laugh-free comedy feels more like a stand-up routine being fleshed out by actors.

Maybe I'm just genetically miserable. Happiness is genetic, according to this week's Equinox (Sun C4) - as are one's political persuasion, suspectability to religious belief and tendency to consume illicit drugs. The choice of one partner, however, is not guided by our genes. How do we know this? Because scientists at the University of Minnesota have been busy studying identical twins - and especially those 68 pairs of identical twins who were separated at birth. These are becoming scarcer, apparently, because of more enlightened adoption techniques. Maybe they should let loose the social services for a while.

First-time director Mark Soldinger has had a simple enough idea for his film Inside the Fame Factory (Sat C4), part of Channel 4's ongoing Fame Factor season. Quite simply he's hung out at the offices of the film industry trade journal, the Hollywood Reporter, and done the rounds with various of their reporters. I was going to say at least he got to gatecrash some good parties, but showbiz parties in Tinseltown look exactly as you would expect - grim, networking occasions where all the guests wear the rictus smile of those on the make. A party at Hugh Heffner's mansion to launch the new Playboy cigar range looks grimmer still. Fat, sweaty middle-aged hacks and cheesy, pneumatic Playboy bunnies rubbing shoulders over canapes and lascivious smalltalk. The glamour of it all.

The South Bank Show (Sun ITV) interviews a distracted-looking Neil Jordan about his upcoming IRA epic, Michael Collins, while The Natural World (Sun BBC2) has a rather fey documentary about the colourful mandrill monkey of West Africa. I was trying to think who it was that these critters reminded me of - and then I realised. It's Nicolas Cage.

The big picture

Gold Diggers of 1933

Sat 12.35pm BBC2

Coppola's grandiose and unpersuasive Dracula just about holds its own on the big screen - but for sheer small-screen pleasure this weekend, immerse yourself in this sparkling monochrome Depression-era musical, with Harry Warren and Al Dubin's songs choreographed by an on-form Busby Berkeley. Ginger Rogers sings "We're in the Money", neon-lit chorus girls waltz around with violins, and Dick Powell attacks Ruby Keeler's metallic dress with a tin-opener.

The big match

Snooker Grand Prix Final

Sun 2pm and 8pm

This year's Grand Prix in Bournemouth (first prize pounds 60,000) has been all about the demolition of the top seeds. Last year's winner, Stephen Hendry (above), didn't even qualify - while the highest ranking player left in the competition is World No.

16, Mark Williams.

Comments