TODAY'S TELEVISION

Gerard Gilbert recommends Les Patterson's Great Chinese Takeaway Sat 8.30pm BBC2
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The Independent Culture
Glastonbury, Hong Kong and, weather permitting, Wimbledon are the three main destinations this weekend. If you are looking for a change, however, make sure it isn't Melrose Place (Sat C5). This spin-off from Beverly Hills 90210 is neither bad enough to be good (see Sunset Beach for that pleasure), or good enough to be Friends. A cast of cheap-looking model types live next to, and on top of, each other in a swanky LA apartment complex, and the cheesy aspirational script is not so much Clueless as clueless.

The show has already been shown on Sky, as has ITV's answer to The X Files, Millennium (Sun ITV), which, by comparison with Melrose Place, is a work of art. As far as can been garnered from the first episode, the Millennium Group ("just some guys who used to work in law enforcement") is an FBI break-away outfit which takes millennial fears of the apocalypse awfully seriously and whose bedtime reading is mixed with Revelations and Nostradamus. Frank Black (played by Lance Henriksen), the hero of the piece, is a clairvoyant who can get inside the heads of deranged killers, and whose voice is so gravelly you could make a lovely, long, scrunchy driveway with it. His favourite expression - eyes glassy, veins throbbing in forehead - comes straight out of a paracetamol advert. The setting is Seattle, where it rains a lot. Home from home, in fact.

Now, according to The Works (Sun BBC2), the composer Frederick Delius (1862-1934) had a dark secret, and her name was Chloe, a 17-year-old black woman from Florida who bore him a child while Delius was doing the 19th-century equivalent of work experience on a nearby orange plantation. Delius was enamoured of Chloe, and returned to collect her and the child to bring them over to Europe - but Chloe, thinking he only wanted the child, fled and hid.

Not that the official Delius Society of Florida gives any credence to this story - and is, indeed, hostile to the idea of their whiter-than- white English pastoralist dallying with the duskier races. In fact, it was violinist and Delius specialist Tasmin Little who first suspected that the composer might have the blues, both emotionally and musically, and this is her detective story. She tells it rather breathlessly, it must be said - in the tones of someone reading out their school project, "What I Did in the Summer Holidays". Interesting, nonetheless.

How to Be Chancellor (Sun BBC2) sees our old friend Michael Cockerell chatting up former residents of 11 Downing Street in good time for New Labour's first budget. We get to hear what they drank before their budget speeches (a good malt for Lamont, water "with a spot of brandy" for Healey) and what they ate. Geoffrey Howe used to knock back fried egg, baked beans and pineapple chunks. Pineapple chunks?

Just about the funniest thing about Les Patterson's Great Chinese Takeaway (Sat BBC2), a take-off of the Clive James/ Alan Whicker school of travelogue, is the title. Sir Les, for the uninitiated, is the former Australian cultural attache as realised by Barry Humphries, an all-belching, all-farting embodiment of stereotypical Aussie philistinism. In this one- off special, he says farewell to Hong Kong ("I knew that as a fellow RC, Chris Patten could handle withdrawal", that sort of thing). And just when you're beginning to think Sir Les is a grotesque satire, we gatecrash a lunch for the Aussie chamber of commerce in Hong Kong, where the braying echo of Sir Les'isms gives an insight into why the highly cultured Humphries might have plied his trade abroad in the first place.

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