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Friday 29 August 2014

Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Paul Whitington

Published 13/09/2008 | 00:00

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The charm of Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit animations depends on their summoning up of a cosy, gentle and resolutely mythical England that's part Ealing comedies and part 1950s seaside picture postcards. They're also, of course, superb animated characters. They first appeared in 1989, in a made-for-TV half-hour short called A Grand Day Out, which introduced us to the dim-witted amateur inventor Wallace (brilliantly voiced by Peter Sallis), who loves cheese to distraction and is constantly saved from disaster by his infinitely smarter dog, Gromit.

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The absolutely classic Wrong Trousers followed, along with another short, A Close Shave (the one with the sheep). This 2005 movie was their first ever feature film, and Park took a big risk in trying to translate the beloved characters to the big screen. But it paid off, and master and hound are in top form as they try to save a village's prize-winning vegetables from a giant mutant rabbit.

A Night at the Opera (1935): The brothers Marx cause chaos with a touring opera company aboard an ocean liner. "The strains of Verdi's music will come back to you tonight, and Mrs Claypool's cheques will come back to you in the morning ... " (Today, TG4, 1.15pm).

Shakespeare in Love (1998): Annoying, self-conscious, overly cute but quite entertaining comic drama based around the supposed romantic life of the Swan of Avon. With Gwyneth Paltrow (Tonight, UTV, 10.15pm).

The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000): Robert Redford's imperfect but likeable fable about a down-and-out golfer (Matt Damon) who's helped by a mystical caddy (Will Smith) (Sunday, TV3, 9pm).

Misery (1990): Kathy Bates is excellent as the demented fan who imprisons a bestselling novelist and forces him to write the kind of book she wants to read. With James Caan (Tuesday, TG4, 10pm).

A Very Long Engagement (2004): Lush, mystical film from Jean-Pierre Jeunet starring the ethereal Audrey Tautou as a woman relentlessly searching for her missing soldier husband (Wednesday, RTE2, 12.35am).

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992): Classic schlocky B-movie thriller starring Rebecca De Mornay as a supposedly perfect nanny who turns out to be an obsessive and vengeful fruitcake (Friday, UTV, 1.45am).

Friends

Monday to Friday, Channel 6, 7pm

If there was one TV show I was sure would date badly, it was Friends. During its 10-year run it attracted an adoring fan base who talked about the characters as if they knew them and who bought into the series' clever, soap-style hooks. But it so expertly rode the zeitgeist that it seemed sure to pale in retrospect. There was a cutesiness to the characters that began to grate, and the formulaic scenes could become wearisome.

Remarkably, however, watching these Channel 6 reruns I find that Friends stands up really well. The writing is better than I remember it, and I never noticed at the time how brilliantly David Schwimmer (right) portrayed the geeky Ross.

Dara O'Briain Live from the Theatre Royal: The Wicklow man's award- winning stand-up show (Tonight, BBC2, 10.10pm).

Seinfeld: The one where Elaine, Cosmo, George and Jerry spend an entire episode wandering in an underground car park (Monday, Channel 6, 7.30pm).

LangerLand TV: Satirical series which tonight wonders what the GAA has ever done for us (Monday, RTE2, 11pm).

The Office: An American Workplace: Not everyone is over the moon about Ryan's return. (Tuesday, Channel 6, 8pm).

Room 101: Bruce Forsyth shares his pet hates, including bad food, loud female presenters and golf rules (Wednesday, BBC2, 10pm).

Friday Night with Jonathan Ross: Ben Stiller joins Jonathan Ross to discuss the controversy caused by the political incorrectness of his latest comedy, Tropic Thunder, with other guests including Paul O'Grady and Cheryl Cole (Friday, BBC1, 10.35pm).

Raw

Monday, RTE2, 9.30pm

This fine new drama from Lisa McGee is set in a hectic Dublin restaurant. The excellent Charlene McKenna stars as Jojo, a keen young commis chef who thinks she's found the perfect outlet for her creative energies in the kitchen of busy, buzzy Raw restaurant. However, there's a permanently stressed-out manager called Tanya who's always on her case, and a head chef who thinks he's a genius but can often be a liability.

In this second episode, Jojo throws a party but soon wishes she hadn't. First the booze runs out, then Bobby and Rebecca become entangled and risk being discovered by Tanya, and the evening soon descends into chaos. Keith McErlean and Shelley Conn co-star.

Agatha Christie's Poirot: The effete Belgian is not convinced when everyone blames a lodger for the murder of a woman in her home. David Suchet stars (Sunday, UTV, 9pm).

The Tudors: The brutal reforms of Cromwell spread panic through the English Catholic church, and Anne Boleyn struggles with her increasingly perilous position at court (Sunday, TV3, 11.30pm).

Mad Men: Pete returns from his honeymoon still fixated on Peggy, and Don is increasingly drawn to Jewish department store heiress Rachel (Monday, RTE2, 11.45pm).

Lost in Austen: When Mr Darcy declares his love for Amanda, she feels bad for Elizabeth Bennet (Wednesday, UTV, 9pm).

Dirt: Julia wonders if her drug problems have finished her career in Hollywood, and Don faces stiff competition from the paparazzi (Wednesday, Channel 6, 9.25pm).

The Wire: When Daniels orders a full-scale investigation of Barksdale's foot soldiers, Freamon suspects there may be a traitor in the ranks. Baltimore-based crime drama (Thursday, Channel 6, 9.25pm).

Who Do You Think YouAre?

Monday, RTE1,9.30pm

Genealogy is all the rage at the minute, with advances in technology making it easier for people to investigate their genetic past. This trend has been greatly influenced by the excellent BBC series Who Do You Think You Are?, and this RTE take on the theme will examine the family trees of Irish celebrities including Pamela Flood, Linda Martin, Ardal O'Hanlon and Dana. First up is newshound Charlie Bird. Surprises good and bad await most of us who dare to rummage through our familial histories and Charlie is no exception, as his intriguing investigation proves.

Charlie knows little about his ancestry, and plenty of surprises await him. His only starting point is a grandfather from Bermuda who brought electricity to Macroom, but why did he change his name? From Cork to the West Indies, from Portsmouth to the Battle of the Nile, Charlie pieces together six generations of his family tree from scratch and ends up back where he began, but very much the wiser.

Customs: Following the demanding jobs of those who police our national borders (Sunday, RTE1, 7.30pm).

Earth: The Climate Wars: Dr Iain Stewart examines scepticism about the notion of man-made global warming (Sunday, BBC2, 9pm).

Oilean: A series about the islands of Ireland starts with an attempt to open a gourmet restaurant on Inis Meáin (Monday, RTE1, 7.30pm).

Dispatches: What's in Your Wine? Another pleasure ruined (Monday, C4, 8pm).

Hidden History: Cromwell in Ireland: Documentary examining the true conduct of the historical bogeyman we all love to hate (Tuesday, RTE1, 10.15pm).

Tiger -- Spy in the Jungle: David Attenborough follows the lives of four tiger cubs (Wednesday, BBC2, 8pm).

Manchester City v Chelsea

Today, Setanta Sports 1, 5.15pm

Is it possible to buy your way into the footballing big time? When Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea in 2003 they'd never won the Premier League, but three years -- and an estimated £260 million -- later, Jose Mourinho's side had done it twice. And £260 million is precisely the figure Manchester City's new owner has declared will be available for buying players over the next two years. A week ago no one had ever heard of Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim, but overnight the billionaire Abu Dhabi property mogul has become the new owner of City.

Al-Fahim will arrive in Manchester to what should be a very warm reception. "Our goal is very simple," he has said, "to make Manchester City the biggest club in the Premier League and, to begin with, to finish in the top four this season". Any kind of a result today at home to Chelsea would surely be a great start.

Racing: Robert Hall presents live coverage of the Irish St Ledger at the Curragh (Today, RTE2, 2.30pm).

Soccer: A round-up of Premier League games including Liverpool v Manchester United, Blackburn v Arsenal and Wigan v Sunderland (Tonight, RTE2, 7.30pm).

Motor Racing: Live coverage of the Italian Grand Prix (Sunday, Setanta Ireland, 12.15pm).

GAA: Cork take on Galway in the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Final. Michael Lyster presents (Sunday, RTE2, 3.30pm).

Soccer: Reigning champions Manchester United get their European season underway against Spanish side Villareal (Wednesday, RTE2, 7.30pm).

Rugby: Emmet Byrne and Neil Francis present coverage of Leinster's Magners League tie against Ospreys at the RDS (Friday, Setanta Ireland, 7pm).

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