Today's television

Tina Ogle recommends Dalziel and Pascoe Sat 8.05pm BBC1
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
Watching Dale Winton, the winsome gameshow host who is beginning to grace our screens on a prime-time basis, I can never help but think of Derek Batey. Don't get me wrong. Like the rest of the nation, I love Dale. Who could resist his comic timing, camp charm and desperate desire to be liked? Lest you are sceptical, these talents are amply displayed in his current partner-matching show The Other Half (Sat BBC1). But make no mistake, without Derek there could have been no Dale. For it was the perma-tanned Cumbrian host of Mr And Mrs who created the current style of cosy people shows. The product of the union between a Slaggyford vicar's daughter and the lemonade man from nearby Brampton, Derek was a classless hero who blazed a trail in popular television. If you were unlucky enough to be out of the Border television catchment area in the Seventies, you may have missed his seminal quiz Try For Ten, and his ground-breaking chat show Look Who's Talking. Those who caught them can't help but realise the huge debt we owe Derek. Mr Batey, wherever you are, take a bow.

You can't imagine the couple from this week's Screen Two: Butterfly Kiss (Sat BBC2) doing too well on either Dale or Derek's shows. "So Miriam, you're getting ready for bed. What's the very last thing your partner takes off before joining you under the duvet?" "Well Derek, that would have to be her bondage chains.' A supremely depressing road movie about a disturbed, serial-killing lesbian (Amanda Plummer) and the gormless goody two-shoes she picks up (Saskia Reeves), this is scripted by former Coronation Street and Brookside writer Frank Cottrell Boyce. If you tire of counting up the bludgeoned victims, you could always play spot the soap star. Betty and Mandy from Emmerdale, Bobby Grant from Brookside and the kid from Corrie who belonged to Des's ex-girlfriend are just some of the familiar faces keeping peculiar company. Released cinematically a couple of years back, this was dubbed at the time a British Thelma and Louise. But whereas their American counterparts were entirely sympathetic good gals pressured into crime by events beyond their control, these two are losers you are hard pressed to understand. Probably the point, but it makes for difficult and unrewarding viewing.

A far more mainstream affair is a new series of Dalziel and Pascoe (Sat BBC1), based on Reginald Hill's hugely popular novels. Aficionados of the books complain that the monstrous, ball-scratching, politically off- the-map Dalziel has been watered down way too much. But Warren Clarke, that monolith of barely suppressed menace, still lends bucket-loads of crassness to his chief inspector. Tonight, his beautifully understated sidekick, played by Colin Buchanan, stumbles upon the recently deceased bodies of three of his friends. Meanwhile, Dalziel is crashing down the trail of the Wetherton micturator, an antiques thief with a penchant for urinating in his victims' kettles. A screenplay by Malcolm Bradbury manages to negotiate the chalk-and- cheese coppers through standard plots in an elegant fashion.

You can't help but wonder how this pair would fare as detectives in Homicide: Life on the Street (Sat C4). Dalziel would probably see it as his duty as a Yorkshireman to pour cold water on the mundane yet existential ramblings of his colleagues. But Pascoe, sensitive New Man that he is, could easily partner Bayliss. You can just see him discussing the relative merits of Yorkshire ale and American domestic beer, all the while torturing some poor murder suspect with his glottal stops.

Comments