Culture

Today's TV & Radio

Holiday On A Shoestring (BBC-1, 7.0pm) Not that thin a string: they're not talking hitching or kipping on the beach. 'Bargain holidays for softies' is how presenter Craig Doyle describes this new show about organised but affordable hols. 'Affordable' in this context meaning under £500, though there'll be one weekly trip for under £100, plus up-to-the-minute news of late availability offers. Las Vegas, Champagne and Venice are the first destinations. Trouble At The Top The Kinky Boot Factory (BBC-2, 9.50pm) Like other traditional companies in Northamptonshire, heart of Britain's shoe industry, Steve Pateman's firm has seen business collapse in the face of cheap foreign imports. Four generations of family investment and 55 jobs depend on him finding any new niche market, quickly, and a trip to the States has suggested the potential of exotic footwear for cross-dressing men. Michael Kurland's intelligent and engaging film follows the new line over six months, as Steve sticks his neck out and also puts his own foot forward, gamely posing in thigh-high PVC boots to save a few bob on a model.

By Sandy Smithies

24, Feb, 1999 @2:57 AM

Julie Burchill is nice, shock

Sam Wollaston on last night's TV

By Sam Wollaston

24, Feb, 1999 @2:57 AM

Dish of the Day

Tony Richardson's film Blue Sky (FilmFour, 8.0pm) was set in the '60s - though made in 1994 - and seemed to belong to an even earlier period of American drama where a hellish marriage was life's central tragedy. Tommy Lee Jones is the good man who has disastrously got what every male was then (is now?) supposed to want; his wife is Jessica Lange's Marilyn Monroe-alike, who is childish, depressed and communicates mostly through her Hollywood-imitation sexuality. Precise script; and Lange's Oscar-winning performance is enough to propel you into a convent.

By Vera Rule

23, Feb, 1999 @4:10 AM

Today's TV

Queer As Folk (C4, 10.30pm) 'Gays', a C4 Commissioning Editor told Right To Reply, in response to viewers' complaints about a boy-meets-boy edition of Dishes, 'are an important constituency for us. We should be reflecting the normality of their lives.'

By Sandy Smithies

23, Feb, 1999 @4:10 AM

A stag night, then the 'ead ache

Radio Times describes Births, Marriages And Deaths (BBC 2) by Tony Grounds as a challenge. Challenge is a word that makes me flinch, as courageous made Jim Hacker nervous in Yes Prime Minister.

By Nancy Banks-Smith

23, Feb, 1999 @4:09 AM

Craig Charles

There's something about Craig Charles that makes you want to slap him. One-two, bish-bosh, across those smirking cheeky-chappy chops. That's for Red Dwarf, and acting that would get you thrown out of panto, for Robot Wars and self-satisfaction to shame Jeremy Clarkson.

By Phil Daoust

23, Feb, 1999 @4:09 AM

Radio

The European Union enjoyed one of its rare moments of political suspense when its parliamentarians seemed ready to toss the Commission out on its collective ear for failing to deal with long-running fraud and corruption. But were MEPs really in any position to cast the first stone? In File On 4 (Radio 4, 8.0pm) Richard Watson considers the Europarliament's failure to impose the same level of accountability on members as we now expect at Westminster.

By Harold Jackson

23, Feb, 1999 @4:09 AM

Watching brief

Births, Marriages And Deaths (BBC-2, 9.0pm). Off for a stag-day revel go Alan, Terry and Graham, fortysomething Eastenders and lifelong friends, in their Reservoir Dogs suits and shades. But then a drunken prank misfires, and its impact ricochets destructively through all their lives and relationships. Tony Grounds' four-part 'serious comedy', directed by Adrian Shergold, defies easy definition, but its pace and risk- taking make for an exhilarating experience. This is a rollercoaster drama with wayward camerawork and a switchback narrative which swoops from black humour to pathos, then plunges into horror. Confident performances from Ray Winstone, Mark Strong and Phil Davis are matched by Maggie O'Neill, Michelle Fairley and Tessa Peake-Jones as their women.

By Sandy Smithies

22, Feb, 1999 @4:43 AM

Blood on their hands

Peter Taylor, veteran investigator of the Troubles, wasted no time setting out his stall in Loyalists (BBC2, Sunday). John White, an ex-terrorist turned politician who played a key role in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement, was on the receiving end.

By John Mullin

22, Feb, 1999 @4:43 AM

Radio

Are we facing the prospect of Siberia turning into one vast swamp and the splendid temples of Bangkok vanishing below the Chao Phraya river?

By Harold Jackson

22, Feb, 1999 @4:43 AM

Arts diary

Ah, pop music. The glamour, the stars... the politicians. Most curious of many freakish sights at Tuesday's Brits Awards was the crowd assembled in the VIP area afterwards. As the stars mingled, worrying about Third World debt, a queue formed outside the door of one dressing room. Inside sat Robbie Williams, newly crowned King of Pop, accepting tribute from his loyal subjects. The door opened and out came Euan and Nicholas Blair, grinning from ear to ear like any teenager. A few minutes later, out came their mum, grinning from ear to ear like any teenager. Meanwhile, a portly middle-aged man fidgeted in the queue. We do hope Robbie deigned to see George Robertson, Defence Secretary by day, autograph-hunter by night.

20, Feb, 1999 @4:15 AM

Oh, do grow up

Experiments at the University of Illinois, Kirsty Wark informed us in Tuning Into Children (Radio 4), showed that rats raised in enriched environments were better learners than those reared in less stimulating surroundings. One couldn't help feeling sorry that so many rats had had to feel so bored to tell us so little.

By Anne Karpf

20, Feb, 1999 @3:48 AM

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