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 mum 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 remembered it in Lenny Henry’s Caribbean Britain (BBC2): ‘You have to hintegrate.’
She carried on: ‘You have to go amongst the people in Dudley and talk like them, talk to them, eat their food.’
As we know, young Lenny ‘hintegrated’ so successfully that he mastered Frank Spencer impressions — a virtually compulsory ingredient of British culture in the 1970s — and eventually became Sir Lenny. But in last night’s programme, he wondered how much Caribbean culture Britain has absorbed in return. It’s more than you might think.
Lenny Henry’s mum 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 remembered it in Lenny Henry’s Caribbean Britain (BBC2): ‘You have to hintegrate’
True, some people were reluctant to welcome West Indian immigrants. Lenny recalled a trip to the pub when he was 16: ‘Within 20 minutes of me sitting down, everybody had left.’
I’d guess that probably wasn’t a protest against underage drinking.
Yet calypso became an essential part of the 1960s satire boom and we imported other Caribbean music styles. There was a wonderful black-and-white clip of Alan Whicker, announcing sombrely: ‘Any moment now there is going to be a fierce outbreak of ska.’
Music and fashion were the biggest imports. When the young British embraced the ska style of short hair and even shorter trousers, it was difficult for black youngsters 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 for joy that finally his people were ‘really good at something’.
Prediction of the week
Life in 2552 will be grim, according to Halo (C5 and the new Paramount+ streaming service).
A human colony is massacred by giant robot-reptiles and the world is run by an Orwellian United Nations. Could be worse: train staff could still be on strike.
The tone was largely upbeat and optimistic, but this was definitely the thoughtful, reflective Lenny Henry of recent years. I hope at least he found enjoyment in making us laugh.
Less upbeat 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 fiction, first set out some rules in 1929. He was particularly insistent on one point: ‘The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story.’
Suspect stuck rigidly 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. Anybody who has read any detective fiction would have been suspicious from the start. For one thing, she was very shifty in episode one when Danny (James Nesbitt) started asking questions about the body.
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 drug-dealing with the pathologist’s lover Ryan, was threatening to expose Jackie (Joely Richardson) for faking the results of a post-mortem. In a dramatic confrontation in Jackie’s flat, Danny grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed her after spotting a key clue. That clue was a neatly folded crisp packet, proving that Jackie had been at the scene of the murder.
So the moral is: if you don’t wish to be stabbed by rogue detectives with a flagrant disregard for police procedure, take your litter home.
As Danny was driven 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 the Danish original of Suspect went to a second series.
- CHRISTOPHER STEVENS is away.