It is a mix of the awful weather, the wall-to-wall Olympics and that August media silly season, that allows tv channels to get rid of odd material still on the shelves. C4 dusted off Make Me A Christian with lap-dancers ho embrace crucifixes, or loud-mouthed clerics who shout doubters down with the subtlety of a rhino on speed. One doubter just upped and left, which can’t be good for people seeking converts. The basic premise was a group of Leeds sinners or spiritually curious agreed to spend three weeks under the mentorship of clerics as an introduction to modern Christianity. The mostly unasked question was, do you become a Christian because you act or behave like one or is it because you believe in a Christ and his followers. It seemed easier to behave like one than to be hassled by his elected followers.
A female, Rev. Joanna Jepson tried in vain to explain the pitfalls in wanting to sleep with a different woman every week to a serial womaniser. The man strangely ended up at a STD clinic and refused to give a urine sample.
UTV did a curious documentary about people who used to be called swarfs, or freaks but now little people – SUPERHUMAN: World’s Smallest People. Leaving political correctness aside, the programme had a smirk of freak-show about it as in He Ping Ping who was declared the smallest person from Inner Mongolia and smoked thirty fags a day, perhaps to stunt his growth. The athletes in the Dwarf Athletic Association Games seemed great fun and it was touching to see a girl from the games going out to buy a party frock. A stand-up comedian, Tanya from Las Vegas, caught the mood with a sad story of her undergoing surgery to correct a back problem.
It must be something in the River Blackwater but the Ballyduff Upper show, The Booley House, had a fine showcase slot in the RTE magazine programme, Nationwide. This powerhouse music, dancing and storytelling show keeps alive many cultural strands as well as entertaining thousands each summer. The Claire Dunne tutored dancers are top quality and the storyteller Jim Lehane is famed for the traditional style he uses and their musicians are a credit to any locality indeed.
BBC2 are running a very good farming series called Farming Heroes, showing how British farmers meet and compete with a changing world. The scope and range of the show, presented by Jimmy Doherty, shows how Scottish farmers manage to farm poor sandy soil on islands; how Highlanders breed reindeer and how modern fish farming is cleaning up its act. The insemination of prize Aberdeen Angus shows how leading edge science is used to survive and prosper. The programme on mechanical felling and logging of Sitka Spruce was an eye-opener and as a bonus, the scenery was exciting and impressive.
Connie Fisher: The viewers’ choice for Maria in The Sound Of Music has shown she is not a manufactured one-hit wonder as she has moved from climbing mountains to being a kooky song-writer in They’re Playing Our Song at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory. This, mostly two-hander, is based on lyricist Carole Bayer Sager’s rocky relationship with composer, Marvin Hamlisch. Comic and impressionist Alistair McGowan plays opposite her in this tuneful but light-weight musical.
Amanda Holden is to take on a Jimmy Savile role in a fix-it-formula show for Ant and Dec’s production company, Gallowgate. To be called, The Wish List, it will feature making viewer’s dream come true in spectacular fashion as well as being high on feel-good values.
My Family is now only one of three modern sitcoms to reach the elusive 100 episode mark to be broadcast next year in series nine. It still stars, Robert Lindsay and Zoe Wanamaker and is now rated the UK’s most popular family comedy for BBC.
Frank McGuinness, the Irish playwright, has written a new tv drama for BBC1, about euthanasia. A Short Stay In Switzerland is based on the true life story of Dr. Anne Turner who, after being diagnosed with an incurable neurological disease, travelled to Zurich to the controversial Dignitas clinic where she was given drugs to end her life.