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Meryl and Bob on track for love; Falling In Love (BBC1, 11.50pm - 1.40am).

TWO of the cinema's most acclaimed actors of the late 20th century meet in a modern- day Brief Encounter.

Architectural engineer Frank Raftis (Robert De Niro) and graphic designer Molly Gilmore (Meryl Streep) both have happy marriages.

They commute regularly on the same train from their New York suburb to Manhattan but are unaware of each other's existence.

But on a Christmas shopping trip, they bump into each other in a bookstore. In the confusion, their bags are exchanged. And their chance meeting proceeds to turn both of their lives upside down.

Director Ulu Grosbard's romantic drama shows a rarely seen side of De Niro on screen.

He, Streep and supporting players Harvey Keitel and Dianne Wiest, do a professional job on their roles.

But they somehow fail to conjure up the real spark between their characters that would have justified all the turmoil caused by their romance. (1984) PPP

Top Gear BBC2, 8.30pm

TV'S top motoring show returns in pole position for a new series tonight, with news of what's hot and what's not on the roads today.

And there's a record breaking start as presenter Tiff Needell gets behind the wheel of a super powerful McLaren F1 to set a new British speed record.

Although legally allowed on British roads, the McLaren F1 is powered by a 6.1 litre BMW V12 engine and is not a car for wimps.

Tiff heads for the two mile banked bowl of Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, hoping to set a new record for the latest lap by a production car on a Beruit circuit - while also promoting Comic Relief's record breaking theme.

His target is the 180.4mph record set by Colin Goodwin in a Jaguar XJ220S in 1995.

The track is busy and Tiff has to squeeze his record attempt into his busy schedule. Time is put aside on a Saturday and a Sunday, giving Tiff a real `now or never' dilemma... and on Saturday, it rains.

Unable to break the record on the first day, Tiff returns to try again. He manages an average speed of 183mph - a new record is set, but Tiff confesses: "So far so good, but I was beginning to get sucked into the addictive lure of this record breaking lark.

"It's one thing setting a new mark but then it's another setting a new mark that will take some beating."

He adds: "The record breaking spirit of Camille Jenatzy's 1899 Jamais Contente - Never Content - was boiling in my blood. Just 100 years after he set a new world record of 65.8mph, I wanted to go three times faster in a road car."

With just an hour of track time left, Tiff has one final attempt to really smash the record. The tension mounts as he notches up a top speed of 200.8 mph.

"That should give everyone something to think about," he says.

Away from the track a new face to Top Gear, James May (Channel 4's Driven, Channel 5's The Car Show), accelerates to Seville to test drive the new Rover 75 - the first all-new Rover for 23 years.

This is the car that Rover, and BMW, the company's owner since 1994, hopes will bring them back to the forefront of the luxury car market.

But it has a real fight on its hands with rivals including the Audi A4, Volkswagen Passat, Saab 9- 3 and BMW's own 3 series.

Underneath the Rover 75's finery is a thoroughly modern car. Available with a 1.8 litre, four cylinder K series, 2.0 and 2.5 litre V6 engines and a brand new 2.0 litre common rail diesel engine, the Rover will cost between pounds 19,000 and pounds 26,000. All the usual Top Gear snippets feature too.

NYPD Blue Channel 4, 10pm

SIX years after its controversial debut on British television, the gritty New York police drama is back. And the faces are changing again.

The show survived and even thrived after the departure of David Caruso, who played Detective John Kelley in the original series.

His replacement, Jimmy Smits, who had previously had a long- running role in LA Law, proved a popular choice.

But now, as the new series starts, Smits's character, newly-wed Detective Bobby Simone, is seeing out his final days in the 15th precinct.And a new cop has arrived.

Rick Schroder plays Detective Danny Sorenson.

The 28-year-old Schroder has been working in the movie and TV business since he was eight.

And although he's starred in well-received TV series such as Lonesome Dove, he's probably best known as Ricky Schroder, the child star who starred in The Champ and Little Lord Fauntleroy.

On the mean streets of New York, he's a long way from Little Lord Fauntleroy, though.

And he'll be hoping to make a big impact alongside original star Dennis Franz, who plays Detective Andy Sipowicz.

In tonight's episode, detectives on a rape investigation suspect that the victim is hiding something.

Red Dwarf VIII BBC2, 9pm

IN space continuum, life is becoming more complicated for the inmates of Red Dwarf VIII.

Much to Rimmer's (Chris Barrie) horror, Lister's (Craig Charles) guitar is found in among Starbug's debris and delivered to their cell.

In the meantime, Kryten (Robert Llewellyn), who has been re- programmed, starts his own pay TV station for the prisoners and the ratings soar with the broadcast of Women's Shower Night, much to Lister's dismay.

Red Dwarf tonight also features Chloe Annett as Kochanski and Norman Lovett as Holly.

Ramsay's Boiling Point Channel 4, 9pm

VOLATILE chef Gordon Ramsay takes on his biggest challenge - a banquet for 650 guests at the Palace of Versailles on the eve of last year's World Cup final.

Nervousness isn't the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of Ramsay. But he admits that the scale of the project has him rattled.

He describes the banquet as "the most exciting meal I've ever cooked". But when he gets to Paris for his final visit before the big event, he discovers things are not exactly to his liking.

He meets the banquet's PR man, Richard Waddington, who tells him: "Get it right and we're heroes. Get it wrong and we're out of a job."

He's shown the dining area and told: "You have no kitchen."

Ramsay will have to create two makeshift kitchens, where he is not allowed to use gas.

Due to the preservation rules at the historic palace, he is not allowed flame of any kind - not even candles at the tables.

Another problem for Ramsay is letting go of his normal insistence on complete control. With so many diners, he admits he won't be able to check each dish to his rigorous standards. And communication will have to be through walkie-talkies.

It's not ideal ... and things are about to get even worse.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 13, 1999
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