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TV PLUS; New Year spirit was DRAM FUNNY.

UNLESS you were a lottery winner, 1998 was hardly a bundle of laughs, but at least the year went out with a cosmic comic bang.

Hogmanay saw some classic comedy, thanks to talents as diverse as Stanley Baxter, Benny Hill and Frasier.

Among the first-class funsters on BBC1 was Elaine C. Smith on Hogmanay, featuring a marvellous star whose verbal and vocal skills deserve far wider recognition.

Then came Only an Excuse, with Jonathan Watson and Alistair McGowan ripping to shreds some of Scottish football's top names with the most hysterical take-offs since Jo Brand last did a strip-tease.

Next, the supreme Rikki Fulton reminded viewers of summer with the Rev I.M. Jolly (a morose by any other name), while on BBC2, A Kick Up the Archive reprised magic moments of insanity from old favourites like Naked Video and A Kick Up the Eighties.

Not to be outdone, Channel 4 provided hours of belly laughs starting with The Best of Benny Hill, then a Heroes of Comedy profile on Benny.

That was followed by Rory Bremner's brilliant spoof The Greatest Rory Ever Told, and a double helping of fabulous Frasier.

And so to ITV, with two shows which, for once, could be APPLAUDED for being repeats.

First up was Tony Roper's brilliantly-written, brilliantly-acted comedy drama The Steamie, with Dorothy Paul, Eileen McCallum, Kate Murphy and Peter Mullen.

By now the tears of laughter were making huge inroads into the Kleenex, and still to come was Stanley Baxter in Person - classic clips like Parliamo Glasgow didn't so much tickle the ribs as make them positively painful.

By the time the Bells arrived I had to break the habit of a lifetime and have a wee dram to relieve the aches.

(The habit of a lifetime is a BIG dram, but I was laughing too much to judge the measures).

I wish you all a happy and a fun-filled New Year.

A NEW "horror" show started this week, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer certainly slayed ME. It was a scream in more ways than one.

Sarah Michelle Geller, left, played Buffy, a modern teenager whose mission is to kill vampires.

A martial arts expert and gymnast, she is quick with the one-liners and looks good enough to eat (a major plus-point with hungry vampires).

The plot is ludicrous and the dialogue is hysterical, as in: "The Sleeper will awake and the world will bleed." Or: "Bring me something to eat - someone YOUNG."

But it's terrific fun, the schoolgirls are all gorgeous, and the sexy blonde vampire was DROP-DEAD gorgeous (obviously it goes with the job!)

Only a sucker would swap love-bites with this seductress - when angry she is a man-eater. It would be fatal to arouse her vamp-ire...

WE all know comedies aren't meant to stretch the imagination, but really - how could any scriptwriter devise a plot which required the viewer to believe Samantha Janus couldn't get a boyfriend!

That, however, was central to the story-line of Babes in the Wood, where Sam, below, teamed up with fellow-babes Denise Van Outen and Natalie Walter (FELLOW babes? I'm hallucinating.)

This show relies as much on the glamour as the jokes for its entertainment value, but don't think that's a complaint.

In fact, when Samantha dressed up in a revealing nurse's uniform for a fancy-dress party, the old Humphrey Bogart line from Casablanca sprang instantly to mind...

Display it again, Sam.

THE documentary In Love With Elizabeth, about the Queen Mother's early life, featured toffs with bools in their mooths. Yet when ordinary Scots spoke, the BBC had the nerve to use sub-titles.

So here's some advice for English producers - away an' bile yer heids afore ye get ma guttie up yer bahookey, ye southern scunners.

WHAT are the chances of EastEnders becoming a fun factory in 1999, with sounds of merriment and laughter ringing out from every door?

I'd say roughly the same as me skinning the bookies, winning the Lottery, and seeing Catherine Zeta Jones and Melinda Messenger having a street brawl to win my attentions. NAE chance!


1............... Red Corner

2............ Sliding Doors

3...................... Mimic

4........... City of Angels


6............... Wishmaster

7..........Wedding Singer

8................... Dark City

9............... Deep Impact

10............US Marshals


THIS week's Rasps winners will surprise many, but the "award" is off to Men Behaving Badly. Some readers are becoming disenchanted with this top-rated comedy, like Mrs H. McArthur of Dundee, who says: "I used to love this show, but it has descended into total smut. It's impossible to watch this with the family and not be mortified." And George Smith of Dumfries adds: "The Men have had their day. It's time they and their muck took early retirement."

THE roses go to Derek Jacobi for providing a bit of escapism in Cadfael. Mrs Jean Reid of Kilmarnock enthuses: "For 90 blissful minutes I was able to forget about meals, children, clearing up after Christmas and preparing for Hogmanay, while I wallowed in this glorious 12th century murder mystery. Wonderful!"

KIDS SAY THE FUNNIEST THINGS: They certainly do, especially when a genius entertainer like Michael Barrymore is on hand to get the best out of them. Funniest show of the week. - Helen Bruce, Glasgow.

A QUESTION OF SPORT: This series has been running since the Year Dot, but it has never been as entertaining thanks to team captains Ally McCoist and John Parrott. - Tom Robertson, Edinburgh.

EDDIE IZZARD - GLORIOUS: Glorious? Is that right? Ghastly would be more accurate. - Mrs P. Ritchie, Ayr.

We pay pounds 5 for comments or Rasps and Roses published.

Write to: Sunday Mail, Anderston Quay, Glasgow G3 8DA
COPYRIGHT 1999 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Robinson, Scott
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 3, 1999
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