Hang Seng Index

Royal dead ringer

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 September, 1996, 12:00am

It must be hard being the child of a famous actor. How do Paul Newman's children cope when strangers hear their father is called Paul and say 'shame he's not the Paul Newman,' and they have to respond 'well, actually, he is'.

I used to travel to school on the bus with a girl whose mother made a living out of playing the Queen.

Jeanette Charles is, perhaps, the most famous lookalike actor in the world, but it made life hell for her rather chubby daughter, whose name I have forgotten.

'You don't look like Princess Anne!' we all used to tease, giggling into our homework on the back of the bus.

'You look more like Prince Charles!' How cruel children can be.

But Mrs Charles used to ask for trouble; at least we thought she did. She walked around our village - corgis in tow, I seem to recall - in pearls and twinset as though she was the Queen, waving at passersby in that manner made famous by Her Majesty.

I can remember the time she opened the scout fair; everyone acted as though it was Mrs Windsor herself when she cut the ribbon.

Poor woman, there must be days when she doesn't want to leave the house.

Anyway, Charles appears in If It's Tuesday, It Still Must Be Belgium (World, 12.45am) as . . . the Queen. It's a silly tale with entertaining moments about a group of colourful American tourists who are determined to see Europe in one week by bus.

Their leader is Mo Wyshocki (Claude Akins), a veteran European tour-bus driver with an off-the-wall talent for taking his passengers on outrageously inventive sightseeing excursions.

This trip is no exception; when Mo stops in for tea and crumpets with the Queen (Charles), he brings the gang along so they can stand outside in the hallway and listen in on the royal conversation.

But not all is well back home; the wealthy owner of Tops in Tours, Mr Wainright, has had it with Mo's unconventional policies and sends an investigator to spy on him.

Dead Man Walking changed the world's perception of Sean Penn, though he had made some good movies before it, including The Falcon and the Snowman and Carlito's Way.

He was no longer just the ex of the material girl.

But something went badly wrong for Penn and Robert De Niro in We're No Angels (World, 9.30pm), a comedy written by David Mamet and directed by Neil Jordan.

The film, about two convicts on the run from prison who disguise themselves as priests, begins promisingly but dwindles into slapstick buffoonery.

It is hard to believe but a colleague tells me the trailer for Ticks (Pearl, 9.30pm) frightens him.

I doubt the film will. Spiders, yes. Ants, maybe. Worms, that's really pushing it. But ticks! How can we take seriously a horror film about giant terrorising ticks that have been mutated by a steroid fertiliser used by marijuana farmers to accelerate crop growth? The only thing it will do is make viewers itch.

Martin Sheen narrates Eyewitness (Pearl, 8.30pm), a documentary series that takes a fresh and original look at some of the world's natural marvels, starting with the mammal, including man.

Every good newshound looks for a local angle on an international story, but it strikes me as perverse that yesterday's Late News on ATV World reported the impact on the Hang Seng Index of the US attack on Iraq, but not the impact on the people living there.

Who cares about a few dead Iraqis when the Hang Seng Index has dropped 150 points?