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13. Orang-utans

Jim Shelley tapes men, monkeys and monkey suits

Tapehead number 13

The week after Christmas is a trying, crying, time for us all, and to survive the New Year blues, what better to turn to, than turning on the television and do some taping. Alright !!

Some things are almost too great to tell you about; too life-enhancing to even hint at. Diana – A Princess Alone is one of them, as is a forthcoming Cutting Edge on Graham Taylor, the turnip who threw himself on the compost heap. Better yet, Cindy Crawford’s Stuntwoman World Tour, features a number of indescribable
spine-tingling stunts from the world’s stuntwomen. Cindy going over a waterfall on jet-skis. Happy New Year.

Respect is due to the elderly contestant on The Best of Blind Date who says, without hesitation, that her New Year’s Resolution is Richard Gere. No wonder Cindy threw herself over the waterfall.

Watch out for the geezer whose best Blind Date-style questions:
“I like children. Are you going to have mine or what, number two?”

More choice dialogue on 99-1, the enigmatically-titled new series starring Dirty Den as a hard-drinking, back-handing cop who goes around saying things like: “what are we talkin’? Gangsters?” and being pursued wherever he goes by melancholy jazz. Perhaps the title refers to 99 juicy murders in one series. Regular readers may appreciate that there is no higher praise than to describe the first episode as Taggart-esque.

The real-life detectives on Scotland Yard disappoint by comparison, although crack dealers will want to tape this, to identify undercover detectives from the Crack Unit seen raiding a crack flat.

“Last time it took two minutes to get through the door. By the time we got in, the crack had all gone and they were all lying on the floor with their hand behind their heads.”

Tenser still is Auction, BBC2’s behind-the-scenes look at Sotheby’s, which follows the varying fortunes at auction of a £4 million painting by Goya and a picture owned by a lady from Stockport which she’s been keeping under her bed since it was identified by the Antiques Roadshow as the work of a minor 17th-century Dutch master.

Watch her studying the scoreboard as the bidding stutters at the expected value of £14,000. Then clicks up to £16,000 and then £17,000. Then £21,000, £22,000, £23,000 and keeps going. Watch her and weep.

Invaluable taping material is provided by Further Abroad, with Jonathan Meades looking like an orangutan in shades and a bouncer’s suit, as he suffers horribly from vertigo – crawling across the Clifton Bridge, zooming around a rollercoaster and clinging to the edge of a high-rise building. A cross between Martin Amis and Russell Harty, Meades holds to the theory that structures like tower blocks are there to indulge our hidden love of fear. It is a cleverly compelling theory, notably his deconstruction of swimming boards as “parodies of suicide” and fairgrounds as “legalised brothels” peddling Vertiphilia. Tapehead hears you Jonathan.

More endearing apes and vertigo in Wildlife on One’s Orangutans Out On A Limb, which starts with Attenborough bursting through the jungle undergrowth looking for “the most mysterious Great Ape of them all.” Orang’s, Attenborough says, are “closely related to us” (meaning Meades) and have to be taught to conquer their vertigo (watch them fall). Yop the Orang-utan leaves home after his mum (named Yet) has a new baby (Yosser) and starts ignoring him. TapeHead fills up.

To end (to end it all), A Kind of Blue. “Loss means losing what was…Without time for loss, the losses mount up, and you develop a terrible fear of the hollow places of your own soul.”

Then there are “depressions where a person is obsessed with feelings of poverty, remorse, disintegration of the body.”

A Kind of Blue is a fascinating, absorbing exploration of melancholia and depression, which, having just finished watching it, TapeHead has much to say about. But not now. Too Depressed.

Collector’s Tape 17
The Best of Blind Date: Sat, 7.55-8.55pm, ITV
Auction: Sun, 9.30-10pm, BBC2
Further Abroad: Fri, 9.30-10pm, BBC2
99-1: Wed, 9-10pm, ITV
Orang-utans Out On A Limb: Thurs, 8-8.30pm, BBC1
Scotland Yard: Thurs, 9.30-10pm, ITV
A Kind of Blue: Tue, 9-10pm, C4