Television; Ioan found sea legs on Titanic.
WEDNESDAY, 8pm, Scottish
THERE'S plenty of swash, loads of buckle and a pounds 14million budget to boot. ITV are pushing the boat out with Hornblower - their most expensive drama ever.
But Ioan Gruffud, 24, the relatively unknown Welsh hunk who stars as sea- faring hero Horatio Hornblower, is unfazed by the pressure.
The young actor was even approved by the widow of C.S. Forester, the creator of the Hornblower novels. Mrs Forester was unaware that the actor - who only left drama school two years ago - had already got his sealegs on board the biggest movie hit of all time, Titanic.
He played an officer who helped get the passengers off the stricken liner.
But while he sailed a frigate off the Crimea and the coast of Portugal for Hornblower, Ioan never got near the water in Titanic. He spent four months filming on a set in Mexico.
"It's an amazing coincidence that the two big landmarks in my career should be sea- going stories, particularly since I've never been all that interested in the sea or ships," he said.
"I didn't think I was going to be able to do Titanic as it clashed with another job. I had no idea what a phenomenon the film was going to be, but I thought being directed by James Cameron would be an incredible experience."
Filming Hornblower in the Crimea - where he had to cope without hot water or decent food - meant that Ioan missed out on the glamour of the Titanic premieres.
Apart from having to deal with the Russian Mafia who expected back-handers, the production also had teething problems with the local police who were suspicious of the actors wearing hair extensions for their 18th- century characters.
"They thought they looked a bit dodgy," chuckled Ioan, "I hated those hair extensions, they made sleep almost impossible."
In Hornblower, which will be shown in two-hour chunks, Ioan is involved in swashbuckling adventures and romantic liaisons. His crinoline- clad leading ladies include Cherie Lunghi and Renault TV commercial girl, Estelle Skornik.
"Estelle and I gelled right away, which was fortunate as there is a lot of passionate kissing," said Ioan, who met his assistant director girlfriend Charlotte at drama college.
All these heroics seem a fair bet to turn Ioan into the latest TV heart- throb. But that suggestion is enough to turn him pink with embarrassment.
"Me a sex symbol? I don't know about that," he grins, "but I can see why women might like Hornblower - he's a gentleman with old- fashioned attitudes to loyalty and honesty."
Ioan got a kick out of dressing up in his navy outfits and scrambling up the rigging to the frigate's yardarm. Which is just as well because he could be sailing into more adventures for the next five years.
"I've committed myself to five series," he said. "It is a big committment, but when you are only two years out of drama college and somebody offers you the lead in a major TV series, you grab the chance."
DRAMA of the week
TONIGHT, 9.25pm, BBC1
THE X Files celebrates its centenary episode tonight and fans will be on the edge of their seats.
Unusual Suspects is set in 1989 and opens with Agent Mulder being found naked in a darkened warehouse, surrounded by pools of blood. Three of the Lone Gunmen - this is where we find how out they formed - then spring from a hiding place, but fail to escape.
One of them, Byers, is subsequently questioned and reveals evidence suggesting a bloody shoot- out, but he can't remember how the whole thing happened.
Byers then gets involved with a beautiful Mata Hari type called Holly who he meets at a computer show.
She tells him of her psychotic ex-boyfriend who kidnapped her daughter and then identifies the madman as Mulder.
When Holly mysteriously disappears, checks on her background reveal she is using an alias and is wanted in connection with a bombing at an FBI lab. The plot thickens ...
FILM of the week
A LIFE FOR A LIFE, Tomorrow, Scottish, 9pm
OSCAR-winner Olympia Dukakis puts in a convincing performance in A Life For A Life, a tale of one of the most tragic miscarriages of justice in recent years.
She plays Charlotte Kiszko, a Slovenian imigrant fighting to clear her son's name.
When Stefan Kiszko was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1976 for the murder of 11-year-old Lesley Molseed, the world thought he was a monster. Only his mother knew he was innocent and campaigned for16 years until his release.
Stefan developed paranoid schizophrenia and was confined to a prison psychiatric hospital. Sadly neither he nor his mother lived to see the film. He died 18 months after his release and his mother died six months later.
SOAP of the week
EMMERDALE, Tuesday, Wednesay, Thursday, Scottish, 7pm
THE tangled love life of Emmerdale's Mandy Dingle (Lisa Riley) continues to confuse viewers this week.
Lovelorn Paddy (Dominic Brunt) confesses to Mandy that she's the woman for him. This reduces her to tears because she finds it difficult to forgive him for allowing her family to be evicted for non payment of bills while he had money in the bank.
Eventually, Mandy agrees to take him back - but instead of making her happy, this just makes her troubles worse.
Some tough decisions must be made and the Dingles aren't known for their forgiving and forgetting nature. It looks like Mandy's at the receiving end of the whispers and hard stares this time around.
A Little Bit of Elvis with Frank Skinner
Scottish and Grampian, Tuesday, 10.30pm; Border, Tuesday, 10.40pm
SOMETIMES you believe people are relatively sane and then they go and prove otherwise.
All right, there may have been a few tell-tale comedy signs saying all was not right with Frank Skinner, but nobody realised just how bad the problem was.
Frank loves Elvis.
Like millions of other devotees around the world Frank thinks Elvis is the business and decides to stop off in Memphis - after an American tour taking in all the shrines to his highness, the royal burger King.
That's a great thing to do if you can persuade a nice TV company to pay for you to follow your dreams.
A true fan, Frank won't go travelling from venue to venue with a script written by someone else. Instead, he meets up with strangers who prove to be heroes - ordinary people who knew Elvis and who can shed real light on his life.
No one here is going for the sensationalist angle. "I'm sick of seeing stuff about Elvis which is all drugs, cheese burgers and death on the toilet," warns dedicated fan Frank.
"This is a slightly weird, obsessive love story. It's very emotional. I was close to tears on a couple of occasions.
"The production team kept me in the dark about who I was meeting so I made all of my discoveries on camera.
"When I'm upset, it's all real."
Make sure you get your hankies ready for the scene when Frank sees for himself the great man's orange shag pile carpet in Gracelands.
Can't wait for the Bay City Rollers Pilgrimage around Scotland. Hey, it's bound to happen...
MICHELLE COLLINS has mixed emotions when she divulges the ups - and, in this case, downs - of her Holiday Heaven.
The former EastEnder, who played two-timing Cindy Beale first travelled to Romania in 1977 with a group of friends and her sister.
She had a fantastic time on her first trip away from her parents and even admits to falling in love with a young Romanian boy. Within months of that trip, however, her memories turned sour.
Her best friend tragically died shortly afterwards and so it is a brave Michelle who returns to Romania in this the last helping of Holiday Heaven, rediscovering old haunts, including the hut where she and her friends stayed with the Woodcraft Folk.
Meanwhile Alan Hansen gets all romantic and revisits the spot where he spent his honeymoon with wife Jane, in Bermuda.
The love birds cycle around the island, sampling the golden beaches and delicious Caribbean dishes once again.
Helen Rollason also gets in on the act this week. She visits one of her favourite spots in Cornwall, and Watchdog's Alice Beer proves you don't have to travel thousands of miles to find the world's best beach. Her personal favourite is is Formentera, off the coast of Spain.
THERE aren't many mother-in-law jokes on the go in EastEnders this week.
Grant (Ross Kemp) becomes jealous of the attention Louise (Carol Harrison) is receiving from brother Phil (Steve McFadden).
And as he tried to find out Phil's intentions, he's in danger of letting the secret about his affair with Tiffany's mother out for good.
Phil meanwhile is in no mood for playing 20 questions, especially when he hears Ian has received some bad news from Kathy in South Africa.
Things aren't exactly looking good for Robbie (Dean Gaffney). He does his best decorating job for Bianca (Patsy Palmer) and Ricky (Sid Owen), but things don't go quite according to plan.
If only everything could be fixed by papering over the cracks at Deal on Wheels, where Roy (Tony Caunter) is keeping the extent of his financial difficulties from Pat (Pam St Clement).
It's much more a matter of life and death over on Brookside as the coroner delivers his verdict on the death of Marcus.
Eleanor (Georgia Reece) is relieved, but although he's been reunited with Danny (Andrew Butler), Ollie (Michael J. Jackson) is still far from happy. He's still troubled by his conscience.
Jacqui (Alexandra Fletcher) makes a final decision about Harry. Can she really bear up to all the pressures before her?
Mick (Louis Emerick) is also under pressure - this time from the public. Pauline (Kim Taylforth) tells him exactly what she thinks of him. Will her abuse stop at the verbal variety?
Fellow channel 4 friends in Hollyoaks are having a much happier time this week. Rob (Warren Derosa) has an interesting business proposition for Jude (Davinia Taylor) which could help her earn some serious cash.
The money would come in handy, especially since she fancies a new flat well away from Tony (Nick Pickard) and his untidy ways. Kate (Natasha Symms), meanwhile, and Kurt (Jeremy Edwards) are moving too quickly in their relationship.
Coronation Street this week is full of news about Toyah (Georgia Taylor) and her holiday romance with Dobber (John Donnelly). The young Battersby is enchanted by her Manchester mate and will do anything to please him - but will she do too much?
Meanwhile Roy (David Neilson) and Hayley (Julia Hesmondhalgh) are adjusting to life together and things get tougher for Jim (Charles Lawson) and Liz (Beverley Callard).
Emmerdale heart-throb Scott (Ben Freeman) twists his mum around his little finger by spinning her a pack of lies about his dismissal from the army. The trials of the Dingle family continue and Mandy (Lisa Riley), sees her love life suffer.
Suspicion abounds in High Road now Jockie's told all about the dodgy dealings at the club. No- one's quite sure who to blame, so everyone comes in for a bit of stick.
In Home And Away, things are a bit sticky for Marilyn (Emily Simmons) as baby blues get on top of her and in Neighbours, Sarah (Nichola Charles) is having problems finding a new job after her hasty departure from the surgery.
Down on the beach in Breakers, Alex (James Stewart) is also trying for a new job, and Terri (Emily Perry) confesses all of her devious deeds to a surprised Steve (John Atkinson).
Over on Channel 5, the cast of Family Affairs are all consumed by trouble and angst. Liam (Stephen Hoyle) sees his attempt at robbery go wrong. Maddox, meanwhile, will stop at nothing to remain in the clear.
Also on Channel 5, it's announcements aplenty in Sunset Beach as Bette decides to reveal all about Emily's mum and dad and there are a few life threatening details to worry about. Nothing serious. Olivia, Greg and Cole are locked inside a deathtrap car leaking petrol, and a giant tidal wave threatens civilisation. Just a regular week, then.
Whatever happened to ...
THE GOOD LIFE
TOM and Barbara Good would be laughing into their wellies.
For years, the hardy down-shifters of Surbiton were berated for their wholesome lifestyle by the original Neighbour From Hell, snobby Margo Leadbetter - the woman who poured a stream of ridicule on Tom's decision to swap his City job creating cereal gifts for a spot of home farming.
She snorted with disgust as Tom (Richard Briers), ably assisted by his flared denim- wearing wife Barbara, turned his back garden into an allotment and owned a cockerel named Lenin and a goat named Geraldine.
She watched with dismay as the Goods brought shame on the wealthy residents of "The Avenue", while her husband Jerry, played by the late Paul Eddington, looked on with the odd suggestion of envy.
So who would have thought that the woman who turned her nose up at her neighbours in the series that attracted 18 million viewers would today be the proud owner of her own hen house.
Penelope Keith's husband Rodney Timson bought it for her and she adores it.
Aside from her newfound hobby, Penelope is still a big sitcom star, with a string of other hits, notably To The Manor Born and Law And Disorder.
Felicity Kendal, meanwhile, who posed naked for Esquire magazine, recently published her autobiography, White Cargo, about her disastrous love affairs.
Her on-screen husband, Richard Briers, recently picked up a Best Actor nomination for his role in an Inspector Morse drama in last month's Midland TV industry's Oscars.