Television Reviews

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The opening scene of Bad Boys (BBC1), the new comedy-drama from the keyboard of Ian Pattison, the man responsible for Rab C Nesbitt, has Glasgow neds Rumney and Scotty (Malcolm Shields and John Comerford), walking through a shopping precinct with two guns and a shoebox.

"In France," says Rumney, "they do not call a Big Mac 'Le Big Mac'. I know, 'cause I went on a special pilgrimage to Dieppe to find out. See, in French talk, 'le' means 'the' whereas 'un' means 'a'... think about it. You wouldnae walk into Jimmy's Chip Emporium in Dumbarton Road and go 'give me THE fish supper, You'd go 'give me A fish supper'. Because if you asked for THE fish supper Jimmy'd go 'you are a numty. GTF'."

And so the scene is set: Glasgow, gangland, politesse and pastiche. Scotland has a grand tradition of taking the mick out of itself. The difference of recent years is that the Scots language itself is used in its own right, with fewer allowances for Sassenach pieties, instead of as English with an accent. Bill Forsyth, Danny and Daniel Boyle and Pattison himself have gradually attuned the Southern ear to an extent that, though they may not yet understand what a crawdoun or a clootie dumpling are, the words will no longer explode the BBC switchboard.

The addition of Karl Howman, top chirpy cockney, looks as though it might be a bonus. Obviously, Howman's star status south of the border will be an aid to the ratings, but there is much scope for jokes at his expense: the look of resigned incomprehension that flitted across his face as he attempted to question a tramp in a playground was a joy to behold.

Howman plays Wayne Todd, former cellmate and henchman of gang chief turned nightclub owner Fraser Hood (Freddie Boardley). The teaming is neatly topsy-turvy: while you would expect the Londoner to have the Flash Harry tendencies, it is, in fact, Hood whose mind revolves around Kenzo suits ("Dressing up for mayhem is a proud tradition in Glasgow's neddery") and displays of wealth.

Last night, Hood had to join forces with old rival Malky Mulherron (Alex Norton), to see off some London interlopers who were muscling in on their patch. The result was a concurrent street fight and riot between female Celtic and Rangers supporters. The London boys lost a nose and a hand and the Glaswegians walked away unscathed. Little in the plot was exactly ground-breaking, and there was some irritating showing off, such as Howman's "now that's what I call a critic" when someone threw a TV from a flat, but, all in all, a promising start.

While Hood's empire was at least temporarily protected, some Secrets of the Lost Empires (BBC2) were being laid bare. The biggest puzzle of Stonehenge is how it was built. The largest stone in the temple sticks up 20ft, down eight, and weighs 40 tonnes. The question of how such stones were carried 20 miles, turned upright and capped with lintels some 4,000 years ago has puzzled archaeologists since archaeology began.

One of their number, Julian Richards, teamed up with engineer Mark Whitby and an American stonemason called Roger Hopkins to have a go themselves. This feat involved 136 volunteers and a lot of cheerleader-style shouting. Hopkins, enlisted because of his experience with moving heavy objects with ropes and wood, was rather prone to patronise, and spent much time talking down to Whitby. Richards, while full of riveting information about stone-age burial habits, wasn't much use on the practicalities. Nonetheless, between them they managed to haul the stone up a hill at a mighty clip, tip it upright and top it off with a lintel with only the use of wood, grease and ropes.

The sight of a new trilithon standing against the skyline was a stirring one. Richards, with an archaeologist's caution, informed us that we would never know how it was really done. Whitby was more effusive: "It's a very nice feeling to enter into the soul of somebody as a result of seeing what they built," he said. Engineer? The man should have been a bard.