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 celebration of cricket, ska and Frank Spencer

Lenny Henry’s Caribbean Britain




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

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

As we know, young Lenny ‘fitted in’ so successfully that he mastered Frank Spencer’s impressions – a virtually obligatory ingredient of British culture in the 1970s – and eventually became Sir Lenny. But on last night’s show he wondered how much Caribbean culture Britain has absorbed in return. It’s more than you think.

Admittedly, some people were hesitant to welcome West Indian immigrants. Lenny recalled a trip to the pub when he was 16: “Within 20 minutes of sitting down, everyone was gone.”

I guess it probably wasn’t a protest against underage drinking.

Yet the calypso became an essential part of the satirical boom of the 1960s and we imported other styles of music from the Caribbean. There was a beautiful black-and-white clip of Alan Whicker, darkly announcing, “Any moment there’s going to be a fierce ska eruption.”

Music and fashion were the main imports. When young Britons adopted the ska style of short hair and even shorter trousers, it was hard for young blacks to tell whether white skinheads wanted fashion advice or a fight.

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

The tone was largely upbeat and upbeat, but it was definitely the thoughtful, thoughtful Lenny Henry of years past. I hope at least he found pleasure in making us laugh.

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

There is an art to a good thriller. Father Ronald Knox, a Catholic priest who also wrote mystery novels, first laid down some rules in 1929. He particularly emphasized one point: “The criminal must be someone mentioned at the beginning of the story “.

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

Christina, who was involved in the drug trade with the pathologist’s lover Ryan, was threatening to expose Jackie (Joely Richardson) for faking the results of an autopsy. In a dramatic confrontation at Jackie’s apartment, Danny grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed her after spotting a key clue. That clue was a neatly folded crusty package, proving that Jackie had been to the murder scene.

So the moral is this: if you don’t want to be stabbed by rogue detectives in blatant disregard of police procedure, take your litter home.

As Danny was chased away in a police car, a vision of Christina told him, “It’s not over.” I don’t want to get your hopes up, but Suspect’s Danish original has moved on to a second series.





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