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BAD GIRLS is a remarkable television programme.

Hard to tell whether it's serious drama or a bizarre attempt to get kids rushing off to do something more interesting. Like their homework.

You might think it would be impossible to make a series without a single believable character, or generate any storylines that a half-witted goat couldn't recognise as fundamentally phoney in the time it takes you to put your boot through the screen. But Bad Girls managed it.

For those of you fortunate enough to have so far avoided this moronic tripe, the setting is a women's prison where the inmates compete with the warders to see who can look the dumbest.

Runaway leader is Jack Ellis who plays big Jim Fenner, a screw evidently determined to live up to his job description, who lurches from one ludicrous scene to another.

He's supposed to be enjoying a torrid sexual relationship with the resident brainless blonde Shell Dockley while still hanging onto a happy marriage with a witless wife.

Unfortunately, grim Jim has all the sexual appeal of a sinus wash. Jack Ellis just glowers in all directions and invites you to select whatever emotion you think he might be experiencing. If that is proper acting, I'm David Beckham.

And running him pretty close in the worst thespian of the year contest is Helen Fraser as wardress Sylvia Hollamby, who is supposed to be the harsh face of authority.

Well, she did manage to bark "get in the car and keep your legs together" to pregnant prat Zandra Plackett on the way to the maternity hospital.

But didn't you just know the silly old trout would have to wipe away a tear when the baby arrived.

There wasn't a single minute when I wasn't yearning for a power cut to interrupt this sorry apology for a proper programme.

It's about as original as a photocopying machine. If ITV repeated Prisoner Cell Block H it wouldn't be any worse than this rubbish.

The most surprised person on view was Claire King, who arrived in her new role as a top prison officer direct from Emmerdale.

Even Kim Tate and her credibility-stretching capers in the countryside were more plausible than this.

In fact, Emmerdale looks like the Royal Shakespeare Company compared to Bad Girls.

These girls aren't just bad. They're unwatchable.


MICHAEL Higgs turned in a great farewell performance in his murder trial at the Old Bailey in THE BILL.

As killer detective Eddie Santini he managed to somehow wriggle himself to a Not Guilty verdict after the plot took a series of twists and turns during the fascinating trial.

Sharon Maughan was captivating as his classy QC. From the look on Eddie's face I thought she was just the sort of lawyer to make him try sliding down a barrister.

Fortunately, he restrained himself - just long enough for the sinister villains to call round and kill him. Who said The Bill was cosy?

BRITISH soap's first great sex symbol finally had a richly-deserved tribute show of her own on Friday.

Pat Phoenix played tart-with-a-heart Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street for nearly 23 years - and THE UNFORGETTABLE PAT PHOENIX on ITV was gushing, over the top and absolutely terrific.

Just like the lady herself.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Russell, John
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Apr 9, 2000
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