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The Rest of the Week on British TV

A TV Guide by Alan J Stuart

Mysteries
Fri 22/10/99, BBC1

Mysteries

Presented by Juliet Morris this investigation into the paranormal typically includes three stories of strange or bizarre happenings from around the world. These stories are reconstructed with some visual style and in most instances the people involved describe the events in their own words. However an important element of each section are interviews with scientists deconstructing the stories into explainable parts. Tonight's programme included the recurring dreams of a man who predicted the DC10 crash at O'Hare airport in 1979, the 100-year-old hand print of an innocent man in a US jail and a middle-eastern boy who led his parents to the family he had fathered in a previous life. Interesting and good for debating in the office over coffee. ****

Taggart
Thu 21/10/99, ITV

Taggart

Fearful Lightning. The longest running cop show in the UK, Taggart, has seen some changes over the years. When it started, Glaswegians like myself took a lot of pleasure in spotting the locations and while that is still fun, the "new" image of the city as cultural, middle-class and architecturally interesting is always in the foreground of the camera these days giving a slightly misbalanced view. The lead role of course is vacant since the death of Mark McManus and the plot of this story in which a psychic claimed to be in touch with the dour detective was a nice way to keep continuity with the past. One thing that has not changed is the body count - although the Taggart team always get their murderer in the end, it's never before almost every possible suspect has been knocked off... Still very watchable. ****

Real Women
Tue 19/10/99, BBC1

Real Women

The quintet of girlfriends return in a new series although so far with little change in their circumstances. With much screaming Susie has had her baby and is settling down with husband who suspiciously looks like his new man approach to fatherhood won't last; Janet is still desperate to conceive; Mandy struggling financially, has found a new job as an office angel while Anna, (with actress Frances Barber in some very unflattering outfits) looks set to look for love on the internet. Meanwhile pupils at school are beginning to catcall Karen with the homophobic lessy alert... Perhaps too much of the same from the previous series but the acting from all the cast is still as superb... ***


Walking With Dinosaurs
Mon 18/10/99, BBC1

Opthalmosaurus

Or more like swimming with dinosaurs as the latest part of this excellent natural history series concentrated on the aquatic and shore-line reptiles of 149 million years ago. The seriously cute dolphin-like Opthalmosaurus was the star of this show. Giving birth in huge numbers amongst the coral reefs offered a chance to the speedy offspring in a sea where hunters such as sharks and the biggest predator that ever lived, the Liopleurodon, stalked. Meanwhile above the water, with sea-levels high, dinosaurs were forced to swim between small islands to hunt for food and to avoid each others territories. Fascinating and a little frightening, the quality of animation has remained tremendously high. ****

Michael Palin's Hemingway Adventure
Sun 17/10/99, BBC1

Michael Palin

Unlike his previous travel series, Michael Palin in this new project makes many seperate journeys following the paths trodden by his boyhood hero, Ernest Hemingway. Nevertheless Palin's lively comedy and talent for putting himself in dangerous surroundings still gives this travelogue a sense of urgency and adventure. Beginning with the bull run in Pamplona and the bull fights and festivals of Valencia, Palin showed us the passion and vibrant colour of the true Spain, and while he didn't wholeheartedly agree with the crowds that the bullfight is a good thing, he was captivated by the spectacle. In contrast he also travelled to the plains of Kenya. There the wildlife is sadly depleted, in part because of Hemingway and others' love of hunting. As well as seeing animals such as cheetah, buffalo and elephant, he also mixed with the Masai people during a rite of passage where a young boy is being circumcised. As ever Palin's knack of befriending the people he meets, his comic touches and the wonderful camera-work capturing the exact atmosphere of each setting, make this programme a joy to watch. *****

Buy the book from the series - Michael Palin's Hemingway Adventure by Michael Palin

Clive James Meets
Barbra Streisand

Sat 16/10/99, ITV

Barbra Streisand

In his introduction to this interview Clive James stated that he thought the journey to Malibu and the four hour wait while his subject (who had hired her own director and camera crew) arranged the seating and lighting was worth it. I can't really agree. It's not James' fault - he tried his best, even asking some impertinent questions in a diplomatic way: about her unconventional looks, her relationships with her mother and step-father, her complete control of projects. Either short answers or denials were the replies, rarely did we get more than a glimpse of the real Streisand. However I did learn a few things - the middle a dropped from her first name is the only change from her birth name, which incidently is Streisand with an "s" not a "z"; she isn't interested in making films with nothing important to say; and that despite rampant stage fright she prefers to record and perform with a live orchestra. Not a patch on Clive's previous interview with Mel Gibson where several days access lead to a much more personal interview. **

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1999 Alan J. Stuart All rights reserved


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