TV: ENJOYING A HANDOVER WITH SIR LES
Saturday 28 June 1997
He is here in his full technicolour glory to talk about BBC2's Les Patterson's Great Chinese Takeaway, the Australian cultural attache's inimitable contribution to the raft of programmes currently floating into Hong Kong harbour. Scratching his behind, he muses: "I have taken it upon myself to act as a, if you will, rectal thermometer in the Oriental orifice of this difficult time."
He is adamant that his programme will offer something different from the others. "The Dimblebys and all that mob will be sounding off ad nauseam - that's a phrase I feel I can use in The Independent - but in a shorter space of time, I cover the lot. The Dimblebys' films will be over-researched. We had no script. We just went right up and started talking to those Filipino maids."
Sir Les reveals that he has an affinity with Hong Kong because "I like to break my journey there when I'm flying to England at the Australian tax-payers' expense to guide the head of state through the minefield of protocol. I advise Paul Keating which hand to hold his knife in and tell him not to ask the Queen how much her clothes cost. In Honkers, there are amenities at my disposal which are most agreeable. There always seems to be a lot of wear and tear on my clothing when I'm there - particularly in the trouser area".
The premise of the show appears to be that Sir Les does his bit for diplomatic relations by insulting as many people on both sides as he can. Musing on the task facing the outgoing Governor Chris Patten, Sir Les reckons: "I knew that as a fellow RC, Chris could handle withdrawal."
Later, travelling by rickshaw, he also sympathises with the plight of the "ordinary folk - long may they be liberated from the oppressive yoke of colonialism". Stepping out of the vehicle, he congratulates its driver: "Well pulled, well pulled. Bit short of change. Invoice the BBC. No worries."
This is typical Les, pricking the balloons of political correctness wherever he goes. He happily pleads guilty to the charge of being non-PC. "I try to transcend petty strictures," he argues. "I have always been accepted as myself. If I tried to change now, I'd lose my credibility. I've always trodden this quicksand of taste and found people appreciate my directness."
Clive Tulloh, the producer/director of the programme, describes Sir Les as "the last wall against PC. He's like the London Barrier. If he can't hold back the waves, he'll go down fighting."
Sir Les did not enjoy the experience of having to hang out with arty film-makers while shooting this documentary. "Although I have represented the arts, I'm not one of their number," he sighs. Still, he would be happy to put his personal feelings to one side and respond to the higher calling of making more films. "I wouldn't mind going with the BBC to other places in transition," he says. "I'd like to go to certain hotspots and do some good. The UN have made overtures. Maybe I should go to Israel. I wouldn't mind chewing the fat with Arafat."
Tulloh confirms that "this programme is just Les dipping his toe in the market. He's the ideal man to put things into context. He'd like to do the millennium, the Commonwealth, and the League of Nations. There's a huge career ahead for Sir Les in documentary-making. Clive James is exceptionally worried and considering retirement."
`Les Patterson's Great Chinese Takeaway' is on tonight at 8.30pm on BBC2
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre