106. Wolves

Tapehead no 106

With a bumper week of Brookside, it seems like a good time to recap on a few recent developments.

Georgia has moved in with Jools, despite the fact that a couple of weeks ago Nat’s homosexuality was meant to be the solution to all their problems, allowing the siblings to move in together.

Leo is being bullied, despite the fact that he is twice the size of every kid at his school. 

Sinbad has loads of women fighting over him (not to mention that bloke Fee). 

Sammy, an argumentative alcoholic, has been staying up at night reading law books. 

Susannah’s advice to Nat was not “For God’s sake, you’ve got to stop fucking your sister.” It was: “For God’s sake, you must tell everyone you’re fucking your sister – especially your poor mother.”

This week, Patricia Farnham waddles back in to the Close. The good news is she’s got bad news.

Everyone says Patsy looks marvelous after being abroad for so long, despite the drastic effect so much sun has had on her hair – turning it into the sort of yellow perm beloved by backing singers and minor pop-stars in the eighties. 

Why she has returned remains a mystery. As the lovely Susannah complains to Max, “If she won’t tell you here in Liverpool, what makes you think she’ll reveal all in France ?”

Perish the thought.

Luckily the Nat and Georgia saga continues, albeit rather implausibly (but then this is Brookside). Nat is (suddenly) like a fool in love around Jools, smiling and laughing enthusiastically at every word she says. (And let’s face it, Jools is so miserable, she makes Our Katie look like Charlie Chuckles). 

Georgia is crawling all over Nat on Tuesday (“whatever happened to all the sneaky snogs and furtive fondlings?” she purrs persuasively), only to lure him to a hotel room in St Helens on Wednesday then spurn him. (Nat having also changed his mind.)

Nat reverts to his own peculiar brand of dull shouting (bad acting obviously running in the family). Even for one so gormless, it seems likely he would know more than two people (his wife and his sister), but still spends each episode phoning them both. It’s a testament to his dullness that Nat manages to make even incest tedious.

From Brookside to something more realistic: Willderness, a three-part tale about a sex-mad librarian who once a month turns into a wolf. (Or is it a wolf who has turned into a librarian ?)

Alice White starts seeing a psychiatrist (Michael Kitchen) because she’s concerned about her voracious sexual appetite. She’s also worried about having children (cubs ?) – although you’d have thought the first problem would cancel out the second.

“I need to get to grips with this wolf thing,” she explains rather casually. “It’s not a metaphor.” 

“Now when you say turn, um into a, er, wolf…” 

“I mean literally.”

“Fur, tail, teeth, et cetera ?” he asks, obviously a man who knows a wolf when he sees one.

Amanda Ooms plays the wolf/librarian/wolf-librarian with a rather strange accent (even for a wolf) – a Dutch actress playing a Swedish character (hence the nymphomania). 

Of course, we get the usual scientific detail about her heightened sense of hearing and smell, but you have to wonder if it’s likely that wolves really know the difference between caffeinated coffee and decaf.

Beck, like Wilderness, is shot in the style seemingly compulsory to all improbable series about private eyes – lots of blue street lighting, glamorous black cabs and guitar solos in the background. Taggart’s got a lot to answer for. 

Amanda Redman is another investigator with one name, no partner, bad eating habits and lots of adoring helpers.

“Beck,” the press notes say, “has made it her business to track down some of the estimated 250, 000 people who go missing in Britain each year.”

This week’s episode is about two of them.

So only 249, 998 to go, then…


Brookside: Mon-Fri, 8.30pm, C4

Wilderness: Mon, 9pm, ITV

Beck: Weds, 9.30pm, BBC1