Television Preview: Recommended viewing this weekend

Truth or Dare Sat 9.15pm BBC1 Safe with Us Sun 7.25pm BBC2 Celluloid Icons Sun 8pm C4 Talentspotting Sun 9pm C4
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The Independent Culture
Is Nigel Lawson OK? Colleagues advise me that he is, but I had to wind back the preview cassette of the opening episode of Safe with Us (Sun BBC2) just to make sure Lawson wasn't being impersonated by an actor. But no, it's old "double-dinners" OK, but much reduced. Lawson has his own inflation under control, that's for sure. In fact he could single-handedly join the ERM tomorrow.

This strange apparition is one of the key witnesses (some might say prime suspects) in BBC social affairs editor Niall Dickson's three-part look at Mrs Thatcher's reforms of the NHS. He's joined by Kenneth Clarke ("He's 15 stone, he smokes and he drinks - and now he's in charge of your health"), who volunteers the information that he dreamt up the idea of GP fund-holding while standing on a promontory in Gallicia. One absent-minded step to the left and the development of the Health Service could have been very different.

These instant histories are becoming all the rage, and they do make you naively wish that politicians would speak as candidly in office as out. If Dickson's series initially lacks anything, it's a point of view. Perhaps that will emerge over the three programmes, but for the time being, there's a shortage of heat here.

No shortage of heat in Truth or Dare (Sat BBC1), which finds Cardiac Arrest's Helen Baxendale in various states of undress. Like many one-off TV dramas, alas, this Screen One offering from BBC Scotland gets increasingly silly as it goes along. At heart, it's a late addition to the 1980s cycle of yuppie-in-peril movies, with Baxendale playing Lorna, an ambitious young Edinburgh lawyer in her late 20s, with a nice car, a nice flat and some nice underwear. Then one day, she bumps into her wild friends from university days. This trio of fun-loving slackers, led by John Hannah in a Mephistophelian goatie, enter Lorna's new life like a computer virus, trashing the car, squatting a client's flat and stealing her files. Where will it all end? Where, indeed.

More original is Jez and Tom Butterworth's Christmas, the first of three made-for-television dramas by new British filmmakers. These dramas are gathered together under an umbrella called Talentspotting (Sun C4), which plays on the title of the recent Brit-movie smash Trainspotting and gives an indication of what the commissioning editors are looking out for. In fact the milieu of Christmas - petty criminality in London's Kings Cross - is very Irvine Welsh. The Butterworth brothers have a good ear for dialogue, though, and it's inventively filmed by tyro-director Marc Munden.

To compliment Robert Epstein's two-part history of gay and lesbian cinema, The Celluloid Closet, which starts next Thursday, Channel 4 has come up with a new series called Celluloid Icons (Sun C4). Lovers of the English language will have to get used to the expression "iconic moments", which is not some new range of paints, but what is created, for example, when Jodie Foster and Kelly McGillis hold hands at the end of The Accused. The lesbians here admit that they are clutching at straws most of the time - there was nothing overtly lesbian about Foster and McGillis's exchange, after all. But it was an Iconic Moment - handily described as "a guerilla tactic to steal lesbian moments from a film". Jodie Foster is the first Celluloid Icon in the series. As her admirers debate whether she's a butch or a femme icon, this from a review of Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore: "Foster looks like a boy, but talks like a man."

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