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TV's bad boys are back in town

A LOT has happened since Beavis and Butt-head last appeared on television 14 years ago. The rise of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter has made Mike Judge's cartoon duo's home, MTV, which used to be a vital component of the youth zeitgeist but now looks like a pale shadow of a reflection of itself, all but redundant.

Nowadays you don't need a television to see the rock videos Beavis and Butt-head once banged their heads to. You can access them on the smartphone.

But now Beavis and Butt-head are back, reassuringly unchanged, with their unique brand of intelligent stupidity. Same shaky, hand-drawn animation, same dumb haircuts, same clothes: an AC/DC T-shirt for Butt-head, a Metallica one for Beavis.

They're still parked in front of the TV, sniggering at videos (it was apparently the ridiculousness of a Lady Gaga video that gave MTV's president the idea of taking them out of cold storage), only now it's more likely to be MGMT than Aerosmith.

They have a lot more to sneer at these days, not least MTV's own output, like Jersey Shore, 16 and Pregnant and True Life: I'm Addicted to Porn, which led to a typically puerile exchange.

"Dammit, the porn's all blurry!"

"He's, like, watching so much porn he's starting to look like a schlong, uh, huh, huh!"

"Pornography, what's that?"

"It's, like, the study of porn."

"He's a pornologist, uh, huh, huh!"

The vapid Twilight movies came in for a hammering as well. Sitting watching Twilight: Eclipse, Beavis offered as accurate an evaluation of Kristen Stewart's acting abilities as I've heard: "Is Belle, like, a zombie? She stands there with her mouth open and she acts like she's dead."

Deciding they'd have a better chance of "scoring" some chicks if they were creatures of the night, they bribed a homeless man they'd mistaken for a werewolf to bite them. In return for chewing gum, he gave them hepatitis C, gonorrhoea and a Petri dish of other diseases, landing them in hospital.

In their second, slightly weaker adventure, a slice of onion in Beavis's hotdog during a sappy movie made him shed tears, prompting Butt-Head into a "You cried!" taunt that lasted a week. Then a month. Then 60 years.

Welcome back, Beavis and Butt-head. The world needs you now more than ever.

Oh no, not another series about the 70s -- and this one is even called The 70s. But wait: this is not one of those tedious "I love the 70s" efforts with comedians and journalists mouthing off about flares, glam rock, space hoppers and Chopper bicycles, even though a Chopper did actually appear in the opening moments.

Historian Dominic Sandbrook's four-parter is more concerned with the wider picture. Sandbrook, who "was being born in the 70s", argues it was that much sniggered-at decade and not the one that followed which led to the 21st century the British -- and by extension the Irish -- know today.

Inner-city redevelopment pushed the inhabitants of flats into the sprawling suburban "new towns". Suddenly, the working class became the aspirational class. They wanted a piece of the action the rich had always enjoyed: better wages, cars, foreign holidays and, above all, a home of their own.

Prime Minister Edward Heath, who began his modernising sweep by ripping Harold Wilson's red carpets from the floor of No 10 Downing Street, led his country into the Common Market.

But he also led it into a bruising conflict with the coalminers, the most neglected of British workers, who were looking for better pay and conditions. After a long, bitter strike, the miners won and Heath was humiliated.

If this sounds a little dry and academic, it's not. Sandbrook is a scholarly but entertaining guide, and The 70s is generously decorated with archive clips from movies, sitcoms and current affairs programmes, and features a terrific blast of 70s music.

beavis and butt-head HHHII the 70s HHHHI