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TELEVISION / Tooth will out

THE Vampyr (BBC 2) had one of those credit sequences favoured by American mini-series in which, while the title music plays, each actor gets a little burst of action, then a cheesy freeze-frame. The point of these normally is to reveal to the audience how the cast members look when acting and how they look when frozen, a distinction not necessarily made clear in the drama that follows. And, ahead of 25 minutes in which people would chiefly stand around singing, they were to offer a useful guideline here, too.

The music was from 1827 (Marschner) and the words from last year (Charles Hart). Meanwhile, the vampire legend is both eternal and, some claim, contemporary again, in a world forced to be newly cautious about the exchange of bodily fluids. You could argue that sex with a vampire was never a good idea in any age, but a myth is as good as a mile. 'The place is London, the time is now,' trumpeted the script.

Actually, attempting to bring the tale bang up to date, Hart appeared to have brought it bang up to 1985. The vampire's icy grave was disturbed during work on, of all things, a warehouse conversion. If memory serves, 'warehouse conversion' was a common architectural practice during this country's last economic boom, but when the recession struck, it went the way of art nouveau metalwork and the Rococo ceiling.

Still, Ripley, our vampire, soon warmed to life and prospered in 'the cut-throat climate of today's business world'. Or rather, yesterday's. The libretto was fun when it went for the archaic ('Blood will have blood') and hilarious when it ventured closer to home. (Try a soprano rendition of 'I like your car' while keeping a straight face.)

Naturally, it wasn't long before Ripley was looking for something he could sink his teeth into. When we left him, he was in the middle of sex with Miranda and going into an extended facial spasm which was either incipient vampirism or lethal indigestion. Miranda, who may have had her suspicions, has already knotted him to the bedstead. Will she get it in the neck? The credits roll for Part 2 tonight.

In a slightly different vein, The Bogie Man (BBC 2) had Robbie Coltrane escaping from a high security home for the mentally unstable in a Santa suit. Relatively speaking, a serious role for Coltrane, then. The drama laid the humour on thick. A man wandering round Glasgow masquerading as Humphrey Bogart could strike you as an ample comic scenario. When the man in question has Coltrane's 96-inch chest, that may be pushing it one gag too far.

Strangely, though, it was down to Coltrane to lighten some leaden gags. He stepped into the back of a meat wagon and said, 'Wow] More turkeys than the British film industry.' An easy line, but coming from one of the leading players in Nuns on the Run it had a bit of air in it.