16 June 1998 12:02 AM
FOR THE last year or so, the journalist John Diamond has written a weekly piece for The Times about the experience of having throat cancer, a column which, like Ruth Picardie's pieces for The Observer about her own terminal breast cancer, has proved immensely popular with readers. There are less shocking ways of putting this ("compelling", "gripping", "deeply moving"), but "popular" doesn't blink at the mixed motives of readers when they devour such pieces. And the fact that readers aren't all pure in heart has lead some to criticise the writers who feed their appetites in the first place.
15 June 1998 12:02 AM
As every child knows, if you spin for too long without stopping you get dizzy and fall over. The effect was demonstrably at work in Ulrika in Euroland (BBC2), a giddily weird programme which was the result of a collision between two rapidly whirling bodies. The first of these was Gordon Brown's press officer and the second was Ulrika Jonsson's personal manager, both of whom will have carefully weighed up the pros and cons of taking part in this "yoof" primer about European monetary union (the identifying characteristics of "yoof" in this case being acid-trip chromakey backgrounds and the occasional sequence of hip-hop editing). It looked like a programme that had been commissioned at the end of a very long lunch - one of those projects nobody quite remembers to cancel when they all sober up next day.
05 June 1998 12:02 AM
Neville's Island (ITV), Tim Firth's adaptation of his own stage comedy, usefully supplied its own synopsis. "They make films about this don't they," says Neville brightly, after he and his three colleagues find themselves stranded during a corporate team-building exercise. "People on islands ... shipwrecked... and what happens is they gradually go back to nature and shed 20th-century values, and the power relationships change, and they tell each other dark secrets that release hidden qualities, and, in the end, there's a showdown between the one they thought was weakest and the one they thought was the leader."
02 June 1998 12:02 AM
As the hour-long Friends special (Channel 4) on Saturday night demonstrated, Americans don't all have a high opinion of the British. Our national characteristics, judging from this London excursion for New York's most glamorous losers, are rudeness, snobbery and churlishness, topped off with a grasping eye for the main chance.
25 May 1998 12:02 AM
There's something of a glut in the attack comedian field at the moment - a fact recognised in Alexei Sayle's Merry-Go-Round on Friday (BBC2), which included a sequence in which he was relaunched with a new pyramidal head ("increased room for bad language"). Unfortunately his unveiling at the aggressive bald-headed comedian's trade fair wasn't a huge success - with the "15 per cent cockier Lee Hurst retaining its stranglehold on the market".
21 May 1998 12:02 AM
All first episodes have to be advertisements for themselves - but rarely can the principle have been taken quite as far as with the new popular science extravaganza The Human Body (BBC1) , which has already been presented on a tsunami of hyperbole. It is, some say, the most expensive science programme the BBC has ever made, first fruit of its highly contentious production deal with the Discovery Channel. It has involved the invention of new filming techniques and has straddled the globe in search of novel locations. Usually such publicity barrages stop when it's time for the programme itself to go over the top, but not this time. After a tracking shot across what looked like an unusually representative nudist camp the advertising and incitement began all over again, with Professor Robert Winston punting what was to follow as the thrill ride of the summer season.
20 May 1998 12:02 AM
Lori stood in front of a post-apocalyptic map of Northern Europe reading out the long term forecast: `Ireland is prophesied to go under water. But we see that Scotland does remain and parts of Northern England too.' She looked like a weather girl who'd dropped a tab of bad acid
19 May 1998 12:02 AM
Whatever one thinks of people who do Monty Python sketches, with all the voices, John Cleese's involvement can't help but serve as a kind of comedy kitemark - an indication that the programme has been passed for quality
14 May 1998 12:02 AM
"He is ... uncrushable," said John Major about Jeffrey Archer, the subject of last night's quite delicious Omnibus (BBC1). There was something faintly ambiguous about this epithet, even though Mr Major tendered it without a hint of mischief (I think). It's too easy to imagine it said in tones of exasperated despair, as you might refer to a particularly virulent pest. Whatever you do to the damn thing, it keeps coming back - a quality that can excite the admiration of the most unlikely people. Fay Weldon, who once unwisely used the word "genius" about Archer and has appeared on his book jackets ever since, had this quality in mind when she chose the term. Even Paul Foot, one of the more assiduous chroniclers of Archer's long, unfaithful relationship with factual accuracy, smiled as he recounted some of the more flagrant whoppers - as if describing an incorrigible but charming schoolboy.
TV: The smart money always said that docu-soap fever would end in the gutter and here's the proof: a six-part series for which the bottom line is yellow and six inches from a kerb
12 May 1998 12:02 AM
There are some heroic acts of prejudice engagement on screen this week - tomorrow night Channel Four offers the potentially lethal combination of Chris Evans and golf in Tee Time and on Wednesday Omnibus will attempt to persuade its audience that Jeffrey Archer is a suitable subject for an arts flagship. But these are matters of taste; in both cases there must be millions of people out there who will look at the billings for these programmes without a quiver of nausea - indeed who will feel a glow of anticipation rise within. The Clampers (BBC1), on the other hand, has taken on a real challenge - it hopes to humanise parking attendants, people for whom job satisfaction is inextricably connected with the ruination of someone's day. The smart money always said that docusoap fever would end in the gutter and here's the proof: a six-part series for which the bottom line is yellow and six inches from a kerb.
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 3 Australia: Gay marriage law reversed by high court less than a week after first weddings
- 4 Exeter to Edinburgh and back in a day: How one fresher's lost bet left him facing a 900-mile round trip
- 5 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
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