Small screen

Steven Poole,Serena Mackesy,Dominic Earle
Thursday 18 May 1995 23:02 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Doggy style

Are you the sort of person who is likely to be seduced by the following tag-line? "Lovable puppies (right) playing, romping and yes... even talking!". Well then, come Monday you can put away that rubber bone and trot down to your local high-class video emporium for a copy of Look Who's Woofing Now! (VRL pounds 7.99). Yes, it really is a videotape of dogs. Bruno the boxer, Lofty the labrador and Dotty the dalmatian "romp" round a plastic garden, playing cutely with each other and attacking battery-operated cats. And on the soundtrack is Johnny Morris, doing his talking animals party-piece. Either this video isn't particularly well-scripted, or Mr Morris has turned into a goldfish with a five-second memory span, or - most likely - it was dashed off in one take with no regard for the average primate's boredom threshold, because these dogs say everything at least three times. You will either die laughing or defenestrate your television set. Basically, this is one long Andrex commercial, and as long as you don't hate dogs - some people have been known to see them as stupid, slavering beasts - you'll probably be chuckling away. Kids will love it. They don't know any better.

Fire down below

We've wet our pants over Backdraft, we've spilled our curry in front of London's Burning. Now more gloopy domestic mishaps are on the horizon with Sky One's hot new Australian drama series, Fire (Mon 9pm). Well, that's a title that gets to the point, nicht? We follow the trials of Morgan "Mad Dog" Cartwright (why a mad dog is supposed to be particularly good at dousing conflagrations we don't know, although they are notoriously fond of fire hydrants), who is the first female recruit in the Queensland Fire Service. Unfortunately there's a pyromaniac around - one of those nutters who listen to Def Leppard when throwing matches - and he's one of the men in Morgan's new team. So she's got to spy on her new colleagues for the Arson Squad, as well as not letting on that she's a potential grass. Sticky stuff all round.

Chat and chuckles

The wry eye on television: blame it all on Clive James. If it weren't for the old Germaine Greer-fancier, we wouldn't have to put up with Danny Baker. Just bear this awful fact in mind when you settle down to watch as a new series of The Clive James Show (Sun 10pm ITV) hits your screens, on a new channel thanks to independent production values, but with the same tried and tested format. Clive (right) will preside like an amiable if crumpled chimpanzee over a big telly screen and intersperse clips of Japanese people eating worms with celebrity chat. In the interests of topicality, no guests are as yet announced, but you can look forward over the series to appearances by those old warhorses Elizabeth Hurley (Clive is reputedly looking forward to this interview and wants to try on The Dress) and liddle Kylie Minogue, both of whom are blessed with more physical allure than the great writer. Wonder what the Japanese make of Lucinda Lambton's Alphabet of Britain?

Faith, hope and video

The Vatican is in some ways rather like a computer: it plays a huge part in a lot of people's lives, but what actually goes on behind the screen remains a mystery to most. Fortunately, the long wait is now over, with the release of Inside the Vatican with Sir Peter Ustinov (released on 22 May, pounds 12.99) as the great man (right) takes us on a dramatised trip "through the keyhole" of the Vatican City. Along the way, he bumps into all sorts of influential types, from St Francis of Assisi, Pope Gregory and eminent Pontiffs, to Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. According to the press release, Sir Peter, as a man of letters, is uniquely qualified to conduct this tour. Somehow, we think a certain man in white and purple robes might just pip him for the role of Vatican tour guide, but Ustinov doesn't just limit himself to skulking round the Vatican: he also travels on to Assisi, Avignon, Florence and Istanbul, in an attempt to explain the struggle of Catholicism - 2,000 years of history all on one tape. Now, there's a bargain.

Compiled by Steven Poole,

Serena Mackesy and Dominic Earle

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