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TV & Radio

TELEVISION / Have you got that in a different colour?

PERHAPS it was a hangover from the final of the BBC Design awards on Tuesday, but it was difficult to look past the packaging yesterday. In 'Colorado Cowboy', one of Channel 4's True Stories, the fashion photographer Arthur Elgort transformed the faintly tawdry world of professional rodeo-riding into a monochrome hymn to American manhood. One of the great things about black-and-white film, at least for heroic documentarists, is that it is myopic about adverts, blind to the artificial colours of commerce. A Texaco sign looks as if it was taking time out from a Bruce Weber shoot for Calvin Klein jeans, while a fairground hot-dog contemplates life as a Henry Moore sculpture. And Bruce Ford, the champion rider at the centre of the film, wasn't above the odd designer touch himself. Pointing to a pair of fringed chaps that would have made Vivienne Westwood think twice, he explained that they could add at least 10 points to a judge's marking.

Earlier in the evening, The Business (BBC 2) had delivered a brisk and entertaining profile of Nicolas Hayek, the man who transformed the Swiss watch industry with considerable belligerance and a neat design idea. It was Hayek who gave birth to the Swatch (at least he gets top billing for paternity, having created a business which allowed designers and managers to sow their wild oats). For Hayek, the Swatch was a 'fighting instrument', a mass-produced munition which he used to turn the Japanese back from Switzerland's very borders.

The victory hasn't been without its casualties; the film included the distressing spectacle of the Swatch collectors club, and there is even a full-time Swatch dealer, an intense young man who makes a living trading rare editions. 'We're so fortunate to be born into an era where Swatch does exist,' he said. 'We can possess these pieces but we can never own them.' People with too much time on their hands, I would have said.

Earlier still, the Labour party had announced the results of its leadership election. Tony Blair won, a man who wishes to transform the Labour Party membership card from a hand-crafted extravagance available only to a few, into a chic and cheerful accessory for the masses. The results coverage (BBC 1), he candidly admitted, was 'an advertisement for Labour'. It was a very long one too, oddly combining the atmosphere of a mini-convention, American-style, with a Hollywood awards ceremony.

Everyone deserved to win, said David Blunkett. There were acceptance speeches full of generous thanks, brimming eyes, cutaways to the celebrity audience. Only the golden envelope was missing, having been replaced by an official scrutineer, who preceded her announcement with an explanation so fiendishly complicated that Peter Snow was carried from the hall in a strait-jacket.

Such was the mood of loving harmony that the bas-relief of the Labour rose, which started proceedings a non-committal beige, blushed into pastel tints as the victors talked of their humble resolution. I could have sworn that it almost looked red at one point, but it may just have been a trick of the light. Blair's own pitch to the potential customer was at once emotional and pragmatic - for those in the hall he delivered a vision of the New Jerusalem, a town with a Labour council. For those beyond he made a welcome promise that the party wouldn't become complacent. At the beginning, David Blunkett had declared that, 'People know now that they can trust Labour.' Telling the electorate what it thinks is an impertinent habit that Labour ought to have been cured of by the last election. If Blair curbs that he'll have made a good start.