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ROLAND WHITE reviews last night’s TV: Howzat! A Caribbean celebration of cricket and Frank Spencer 

ROLAND WHITE reviews last night’s TV: Howzat! A Caribbean feast of cricket, ska and Frank Spencer

Lenny Henry’s Caribbean Britain

Rating: rating showbiz 3

Suspect

Rating: rating showbiz 4

Lenny Henry’s mother once lined up her seven children and gave them a stern lecture on modern race relations. “You have to integrate,” she said. Or, as he recalled it in Lenny Henry’s Caribbean Britain (BBC2), “You have to integrate.”

She continued, “You have to go among the people in Dudley and talk like them, talk to them, eat their food.”

As we know, young Lenny ‘integrated’ so successfully that he mastered the impressions of Frank Spencer – a virtually mandatory ingredient of British culture in the 1970s – eventually becoming Sir Lenny. But on last night’s program, he wondered how much Caribbean culture Britain got in return. It’s more than you might think.

Lenny Henry's mother once lined up her seven children and gave them a stern lecture on modern race relations.

Lenny Henry’s mother once lined up her seven children and gave them a stern lecture on modern race relations. “You have to integrate,” she said. Or, as he recalled it in Lenny Henry’s Caribbean Britain (BBC2): ‘You have to hintegrate’

Admittedly, some people were reluctant to welcome West Indian immigrants. Lenny remembered a trip to the pub when he was 16: ‘Within 20 minutes of sitting down, everyone was gone.’

I think that probably wasn’t a protest against underage drinking.

Still, calypso became an essential part of the satire boom of the 1960s and we imported other Caribbean styles of music. There was a beautiful black-and-white clip of Alan Whicker, who gloomily announced, “There’s going to be a major outbreak of ska any minute.”

Music and fashion were the largest imports. When the young Brits embraced the ska style of short hair and even cropped pants, it was hard for black youth to tell whether white skinheads wanted fashion advice or arguing.

According to DJ Trevor Nelson, the real turning point was cricket. When the West Indies defeated England in the hot summer of 1976, his father danced with joy that his people were finally “really good at something.”

Forecast of the week

Life in 2552 will be grim according to Halo (C5 and the new streaming service Paramount+).

A human colony is being slaughtered by giant robotic reptiles and the world is run by an Orwellian United Nations. It could be worse: the train staff could still go on strike.

The tone was largely cheerful and optimistic, but this was certainly the thoughtful, reflective Lenny Henry of recent years. I hope he at least had fun making us laugh.

Less cheerful was last night’s episode of the crime drama Suspect (C4).

There is an art to a good whodunit. Father Ronald Knox, a Catholic priest who also wrote detective stories, first drafted some rules in 1929. He insisted on one point in particular: “The criminal must be someone mentioned at the beginning of the story.”

Defendant strictly adhered to this rule. The killer of Detective Danny Frater’s estranged daughter, Christina, was revealed last night as Jackie the pathologist, who had the second line in the first episode. Anyone who has read detective novels would have been suspicious from the start. For starters, she was very clumsy in episode one when Danny (James Nesbitt) started asking questions about the body.

From left to right: Sam Heughan, Anne-Marie Duff, Richard E. Grant, Joely Richardson, James Nesbitt, Ben Miller, Antonia Thomas, Sacha Dhawan and Niamh Algar in suspect

From left to right: Sam Heughan, Anne-Marie Duff, Richard E. Grant, Joely Richardson, James Nesbitt, Ben Miller, Antonia Thomas, Sacha Dhawan and Niamh Algar in suspect

Christina, who was involved in the drug trade with Ryan, the pathologist’s lover, threatened to expose Jackie (Joely Richardson) for falsifying the results of an autopsy. In a dramatic showdown at Jackie’s flat, Danny grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed her after discovering an important clue. That clue was a neatly folded bag of chips, proving Jackie had been at the murder scene.

So the moral is: If you don’t want to get stabbed by rogue detectives with blatant disregard for police procedure, take your trash home with you.

As Danny was being driven away in a police car, a vision of Christina told him, “It’s not over yet.” I don’t want to hope for it, but Suspect’s Danish original went to a second series.

  • CHRISTOPHER STEVENS is gone.

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