21 MARCH 1987, Page 41


Panning shots

Wendy Cope

Yesterday a friend of mine told me he had read my column in last week's issue and found it quite amusing. The reason I am especially pleased about this is that the friend in question works in television. I am acquainted with a small handful of televi- sion people and, on the whole, their response to this column is a refusal to acknowledge its existence. I don't blame them. What they want is serious feedback from a critic who understands the tech- niques and skills involved in their job. Another friend suggested that I should try and mollify them by throwing in the occasional reference to camera angles and panning shots. I asked him what a panning shot was but it turned out that he hadn't the faintest idea either. There is a schools programme called Understanding Televi- sion (ITV) that I keep meaning to watch but I haven't got around to it yet.

In any case, before I attempt to get technical, I want to return to the subject of Cagney's clothes. A few weeks ago I said how much I liked them. Since that I have cringed every time the sergeant appears on screen wearing something I wouldn't be seen dead in. Last week there were some lovely jackets but I must mention that I wouldn't have chosen the tartan hat or the blue jumper with pictures of whales on it. For some reason, I seem to identify quite strongly with this character and I worry about her love-life. In the episode before last she took a fancy to her new neighbour, only to discover that he was gay. A week later she was having a cosy scene with a man called David, who has popped up in the series before. I can't remember what David does for a living or why he keeps going off and leaving poor Cagney on her own.

Lacey has got fatter. I approve of this and would like to see more fat heroines on television. Unfortunately she seems at the same time to have grown more stupid. On Saturday she made a complete fool of herself at her English Literature evening class. I am a bit worried about her too.

I suppose it won't be long before the current series of Cagney and Lacey comes to an end. I shall be sorry. It is almost the only programme I bother to tape if I'm out, even when I am not planning to write about it. My addiction to Dallas, I am happy to say, has been painlessly cured since Pam woke up from her dream. I gave up on Dynasty when they introduced the new Amanda and I have never bothered with The Colbys because I can't stand the regenerated Fallon. The old Fallon, played by Pamela Sue Martin, was the most interesting character in Dynasty, especially in the early days when she was having an affair with the family chauffeur. If Krystle Carrington were to have a fling with the gardener, I might be tempted to begin following the series again.

But, of course, no character can have an affair with any other character nowadays without us all worrying about Aids. On that subject, I want to raise a cheer for Intimate Contact (ITV). I thought the first episode far from perfect but forgave it all its faults because of the way it portrayed the unacceptable face of bourgeois respec- tability. Sylvia Sims is particularly good as a poisonously virtuous matriarch, delight- ing in every opportunity to make things worse for the victim and his family. After watching the second episode I am even more sure that Alma Cullen's serial is important and valuable, a powerful plea for civilised and humane behaviour.

Now and again there is something on television that actually cheers you up. For me last week it was Saturday Review's item on a cappella — unaccompanied choral singing. It featured, among others, the Tanis Scholars, the South African group Ladysmith, and currently popular British groups such as the Flying Pickets. I en- joyed it so much that I completely forgot to try and notice the camera angles.