Television: The night of the Landslide-ometer

That bouncy lower-case "e" was interesting. You know, the bonny blue one that signified Election 97 (BBC1, Thursday), with a trendy border of orange shards. I saw one exactly like it on last month's March for Social Justice, the Support the Liverpool Dockers demo which transmogrified into a rave-up at the end. You can also see a similiar "e" in yellow, on the cover of Ecstasy by Irvine Welsh.

A young man called Simon Cavell designed the BBC's election livery. He'd come from Top of the Pops. He's a bright boy, and mischievous with it. They should have made him musical director as well. As it was, they had the usual faux-tumultuous synth racket. If they'd given the job to Simon, we might have got some of those famous repetitive beats.

"It's great," said one old Labour campaigner. "In on the winning side at last." I thought so too, which is why I stuck mainly with BBC1. I glanced at David, smug as a pug with his banks of computer hardware. Then I looked in on Jonathan, over on ITV. Only one computer for Jonathan, and that looked second-hand. If you're invited for Christmas with the Dimblebys, be sure to give the younger one a really special present. He might like a golfball typewriter.

Only Jilly Goolden would do full justice to Peter Snow's magnificent performance. "A tiny tile of blue here! A socking great block here! If I line up all these blocks like a staircase! The blue mountain Labour has to climb!" One minute, the blocks towered like social housing. Next they were flapping manically, like a privatised Departures schedule at Heathrow. There was something called the Labour Target Flyaround. And that crazed Landslide-ometer, flattening first Balfour, then Churchill, then Major, beneath great heaps of socialistic scree.

You've got to follow politics a bit before you've any chance of enjoying political satire. So why would anyone watch The Election Armistice (BBC2, Thursday) when they could be watching the real thing live? A young woman was sent out on a helicopter, to cause a hilarious sex scandal with whomever was the first MP returned. They called her "the heliharlot", "the heliwhore" and sometimes "the heliprozzy". Only the first MP elected was the well- behaved Chris Mullin. All those nasty heliwords just hung around smelling bad.

"Did you or did you not take cash for questioning MPs?" the Armistice asked Martin Bell. It took him an awkward aeon to see the obvious joke. "Oh, I see, in a TV sense. Yes, of course, that was my job." Canned laughter. Sighs of relief all round. Back to the serious channel, and a couple of hours later, Bell was the new MP for Tatton. The outgoing Neil Hamilton stepped forward to do his little speech. But look behind you, Hammy: Ms Moneypenny, the drag queen candidate, was approaching. She positioned her false breasts strategically, at either side of his head. They were red and they curved grotesquely. Naughty, naughty Ms Moneypenny. She had designed her breasts to double as devilish little horns.

It was soon clear that Election 97 on any channel had gone way beyond the bounds of parliamentary politics as we know it. The inexorability of it was farcical. It was like The Lord of the Rings. We even got our bewildered Frodo Baggins, young Stephen Twigg of Enfield. Most noble hobbit, history chose you to vanquish Michael Portillo. Read his wobbling lips. He's out.

"It's the dawn of a new beginning," as the brand new member for Portsmouth North put it. "And how long before we see child curfews?" as Jeremy Paxman impeccably challenged Jack Straw. I think it was Anthony King, the BBC1 psephologist, who first mentioned the 1832 Reform Act. It was Prof King too who summed up the events of the long night best. "Landslide is much too weak a word. It's an asteroid hitting the planet." The "only party of government" collapsed like a potwalloper. Will the last person leaving the Conservatives please turn out the lights?

General elections are by most accounts important. That's why you mark your cross with a stubby pencil, then shove it in a beat-up old tin box. Only luvvies, on the other hand, care much about The British Academy Awards (BBC1, Tuesday). That's why a shadowy oligarchy slips its chosen names into golden envelopes, to be announced with a splendid dinner at the Royal Albert Hall.

Hooray for Our Friends in the North, though, voted Best Drama Serial. They can knock the old lefties out of the political drama, but they can't knock the political drama out of the old left. Our even older friends from Weatherfield all trooped up on the stage together, to pick up the special Lew Grade Award. "You," Barbara Knox said fondly to the Bafta. "You are going home to the best little street in the world."

My Wonderful Life (ITV, Thursday) is Simon Nye's follow-up to Men Behaving Badly. Donna (Emma Wray) is a nurse, and a single parent. Unsurprisingly, she's completely stressed out all the time, and finds it difficult to make ends meet. So she starts training herself up for a promotion. Only she blows it right away. Her do-gooder neighbours lend her money to help with childcare. She blows that too, down the pub. The sit part was straight from Ken Loach's Ladybird, Ladybird. The com part wasn't strong enough to make this a daring plus.

"Donna," opined Alan, the next-door neighbour, "is torn apart by society's schizoid attitude to single mothers. So she takes refuge in spunky aggression ..." "Your file suggests a person who is not at ease with herself," fills in the lady from Personnel. You remember Forster's old rule about telling and showing. Did John Cleese ever need to write in a part for a psychologist? Like, just in case we hadn't noticed that Basil was completely barking mad?

The male characters are better written than the female ones. Alan (Tony Robinson) is a media-studies plonker. There's Roger (Hamish Clark), a shambolic indie-pop doctor. And Lawrie (Gary Webster), a handsome ambulance driver, in the pecs-out-for-the-girlies Neil Dudgeon part.

"With a name like Lawrie," says Donna, "You'd have to be a driver."

"With a name like Donna," says Lawrie, "You'd have to be a kebab ... Um, doesn't really work, does it?"

"No, not really ..."

No.

If you are as fond as New Labour is of a blue-and-yellow colourway, you'll love Touching Evil (Tuesday, ITV). It has lashings of a blue which is dark and sinister, with lurid splodges of a yellow that's acid-bright. And I don't think it's accidental that when we first meet the lady-detective sex interest, she's wearing a lime-green shirt. Art direction akimbo! I haven't even mentioned the Robson Green yet. Or his extremely fashionable bright-blue and piercing eyes.

Touching Evil is one of those clever, wildly baroque police dramas. It starts with videotapes of a child on his way to being abducted. It cuts to a madman being thrown to the floor by the cops. The madman turns out to be Cyril (Kenneth Macdonald), our hero's psychic informer. "I saw it through the clouds," he says. The blue eyes lift with the image to the ceiling, furrowing that high, sharp forehead as they go.

Like Cracker - and not unlike The X-Files - Touching Evil is at bottom an abnormal-psychology freakiest. As such, it's total piffle. But it's nice to look at, and the details are lovingly done. DI Taylor (Nicola Walker), the sex-interest lady police-partner, has a very good smirk on her. She also wears the most unfeasibly expensive-looking coats.

Taylor doesn't look pleased when one night she gives a lift home to the enigmatic DI Creegan. To a nice terraced house, with a nice blonde woman at the door, and a nice jolly window with children's mobiles in it upstairs. This of course can only mean that Creegan isn't in a stable relationship at the minute. You can look it up in the style-book. Sophisticated Plot Twist, Variation 24.

But Taylor is far too busy catching serial killers to watch as much TV as we do. For the time being, then, she believes that Creegan is a married man. This only ups his appeal even further. For that, of course, is Sophisticated Plot Twist 25.

David Aaronovitch returns next week.

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

    Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

    £24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

    Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all