43. Lowlife

Tapehead no 43

Even in Tapehead’s (fairly vast) experience of encounters with the local constabulary, some of the scenes in The Nick are unusual, not to say shocking.

This fly-on-the-wall look at the country’s busiest nick (Gipton police station in Leeds) starts with a family moving into their new council house to find an 11-year-old boy spray-painting the kitchen walls.

Two PCs eventually find a suspect who resists arrest, crying “Help ! Help !” and kicking and screaming as he’s smacked against the cop-car, cuffed on the ground and physically hurled inside. (The Clash were right then).

Back at the nick, the custody sergeant sternly informs the boy that he has the right to see a copy of the Code of Practice without actually asking him if he can read.

Their next (heroic) arrest is a man caught exposing himself on a golf course wearing a blonde wig, stockings and suspenders “and pants”.

“I wonder if he plays golf”, ponders the sarge, obviously thinking about asking him for a game. As sensitive as ever, he asks, “now, when did you last seek medical attention ?”

Taggart would sort them all out. (Taggart would have sorted out the Bosnian Serbs). The highlight of Secrets, one of Mark MacManus’s last, is Taggart’s splendidly acerbic version of “Who are you?”
(Hu ar’yoo?”)

This is out-Scotsmanned only by one of Taggart’s suspects joking he’s got “an Uzi in the Jacuzzi.”

Tapehead only hopes Scottish TV meet the challenge and, in homage to McManus, cast Alex Ferguson in the role.

Meanwhile in Screen One: Murder in Mind, the police look as if they’re dressed entirely in Hugo Boss and Charlotte Rampling’s face is showing signs that she’s seen almost as much of life as poor Mark McManus.

Standing in the witness box, Rampling’s vulpine grace and hooded, almost translucent eyes, confirm that, even in spinsterly guise, she is still a completely captivating screen presence an the sexiest thing since sin.

“There’s nothing I like better than getting my teeth into hopeless cases,” she purrs, obviously meaning Tapehead.

When Charlotte R says the words “essential oils” and commences a massage with the words, “Just relax, I’m good at this. I know what you need”, Tapehead is putty in her hands.

Someone who always seems to have murder in mind is Dennis Hopper. Moving Pictures Special promises “a white knuckle ride into the mind of Hollywood’s most dangerous man…the binges and the breakdowns” and, for the most part, actually delivers.

Now, you know things are going pretty badly when doctors tell your relatives you’ve gone so insane you’re “practically brain-dead” – an experience, let’s face it, Tapehead knows all too well.

But when Peter Fonda (whose own face is looking decidedly disturbing) remembers meeting you and thinking, “this guy’s a Loony Toon”, then you know you’re in trouble.

Hopper recalls sniffing gasoline out of his granddaddy’s truck as a boy, getting high and wildly beating this monster (the truck) with a baseball bat.

When Hopper’s breaking point came, he was drinking 28 beers a day, 1/2 gallon of rum, shooting 2 or 3 grams of cocaine. Finally, he says “I blew myself up in this dynamite chair.” Easily done.

He survived (“because even in my total insanity I thought I was still being filmed”) to do it all again a second time (when he came off the drugs too quickly). He remembers being found “Naked on a major highway in Mexico”, having been attacked by imaginary dogs, thinking World War III was on.

After which, Tapehead has just one thing to say: Dennis, you’re Tapehead’s kind of guy.


Murder In Mind, Sun, 9.10pm-10.30pm, BBC1
Moving Pictures Special – Dennis Hopper: Sun, 12.25am-1.25am, BBC2
The Nick: Mon, 9pm-10pm, C4
Taggart: Thur, 9pm-10pm, ITV