TELEVISION / BRIEFING: For those in peril . . .

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The Independent Culture
We've already had policemen, firemen and ambulancemen; it was only a matter of time before we got lifeboatmen. Producer / director Graham Johnston spent a year filming at the RNLI station in Salcombe, Devon. The result is LIFEBOAT (7pm ITV), a six-part fly-on-the-wave documentary. Michael Wood's narration sometimes lapses into melodramatic, 999-style cliches. Within minutes, he is solemnly intoning that 'here they still know what it means to pray for those in peril on the sea'. Later, he observes that, before a rescue attempt, the harbour-master 'marks them (the lifeboatmen) all down on his list . . . just in case someone doesn't come back'. The film is more original when examining the lifeboatmen's day jobs. At any moment, the balloon could go up and Mark Featherstone could be forced to drop his curling tongs and hot-foot it from his hairdressing salon down to the station. Tonight, he helps rescue a crew from a burning barge. As they clamber on to the lifeboat, he remarks that they are 'shaken, but not stirred - like a good Martini'. It's obviously a fruitful subject; Lynda La Plante is developing a drama called, er, Lifeboat.

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