20 OCTOBER 1961, Page 21


Fair Coz

By PETER FORSTER THERE again was the best- known back of the head in the land, and the only voice on vision that can make question- ing sound like conversation. Otherwise the sole change in the Face to Face formula (BBC) was that instead of the names of participants floating off on scraps of paper, as if suggesting that Time like an ever- rolling stream bears even the best interviews away, they now rough-stitch the scraps of paper to a board. Mr. Topolski's squiggles remain.

I read elsewhere that nobody comes out badly (i.e. makes an unsympathetic impression) from the Freeman treatment—to which I can only retort that Mr. Frank Cousins last Sunday night completely confirmed my long-standing opinion that he personally embodies everything I loathe and distrust about unions and Left-wing poli- ticians. Also the other usual compliment to Mi. Freeman, that he is impartial, is misleading, for his task is more difficult and subtle than that implies. The more expert an interviewer's technique, the easier it would be for him to produce a slanted impression of the sub- ject. And so, Mr. X, there is no truth in the rumour that you dislike animals? And you never actually have hit a child in public? Mr. Free- man's job (and at his best, his achievement) is not to be impartial, but to be fair, and he does this by withdrawing any suggestion of personal s. ipathy.

The second instalment of the science-fiction serial A For Andromeda (BBC) began with a long bit of linkage by an actor looking so like Victor Gollancz that for a while I thought they were re-running an old' Face to Face. What followed made me wish they had. Desperately slow and heavy-handed production; dialogue to• daunt any actors; and a general failure to understand the elementary principle that. must outlandish and weird the fiction, it ust be made to seem plausible in ordinary matter-of- fact terms. Here, for instance, the woman security officer was sniped at on a lonely re- search station—after which she informed no police or guards, made no attempt to find her attacker, but simply went into a slow-motion love- scene with a handy scientist. I dare say Fred Hoyle's idea of a message from Outer Space, only decipherable through a super-computer, seemed promising enough in outline, but so far John Elliot's dramatisation has tied lead weights to its imaginative wings.

Production may also be the hampering fac- tor in ABC's 'Fortnightly 'Look at the Lively Arts,' Tempo: the second edition was full of excellent ideas which did not quite come off in action. Neither Baroness Moura Budberg on Gorki, nor Peter Sellers impersonating a bathetic Scotch poet, was as lively as might have been expected; and a jerkily-cut discussion on the Stratford Othello merely left one marvelling at Mr. Zeffirelli's patience in the face of Joan Littlewood's fatuous cultural Gert 'n' Daisy act. The only value here was to disillusion anyone who' still took that lady seriously as a theorist about the theatre.

Expert production, on the other hand, greatly enhanced A Real Case of Murder, last of the present series of CBS documentaries which has been BBC's best American buy. This recounted with deadpan anger the circumstances whereby a, Brooklyn boy was wrongfully accused of murder two years ago. But, to have been entirely honest, the programme should surely have named those newspapers and TV stations which pilldied the boy and presumed his guilt but failed to re- port his trial and acquittal? Afterwards Lord Birkett 'comfortingly told us that it couldn't happen here—nor could it. He meant the case; ,I mean the programme.