Too much of a bad thing

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 July, 1997, 12:00am

One concern about the return to Chinese sovereignty is that all things British will be considered taboo, an unwelcome reminder of the colonial past.

It is, of course, right and proper that the British influence in Hong Kong be put in its place.

Yet by doing so too hastily and too indiscriminately there is the risk in the English-language media especially - particularly television - that the influence will come, even more increasingly, not from the motherland but from across the Pacific.

Already RTHK has decided The Archers, the BBC's long-running radio show set in a farming community, is not politically correct. This is an extreme example, appealing as it certainly does to only a very peculiar sort of British expat, but it is, surely, an indication of the way things could go.

Anything British, TV shows et al, may be considered too much a reminder of the empire; anything American, goodness forbid, an indication of the way forward.

World and Pearl are already dominated by American television shows. What little British drama and comedy is screened is always lapped up by viewers - both Chinese and expatriate - yet we still see little of it.

You only have to look at tonight's television to see where the best of it comes from, yet where the major influence lies.

America may be the largest and most influential English-speaking nation in the world, but that doesn't mean everything it produces is the best. If Britain is the pariah, let's see more influence from Australia, New Zealand and Canada, nations all well-represented in Hong Kong, before we all find ourselves living in one world, one country - and that country is not China.

In Man's Heritage (Pearl, 8.30pm), the BBC demonstrates its continuing excellence at making wildlife documentaries.

Instead of looking at the lion from its usual indomitable perspective, the film examines one family's battle for survival.

Lions are, by any standards, powerful, noble and magnificent but behind the familiar picture, there is weakness, struggle and intrigue, too.

Film-makers Owen Newman and Amanda Barrett spent seven months filming in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania to tell this compelling story of the fall from power of the Tokitok dynasty.

The film follows 11 cubs, six lionesses and two males as they are overtaken by a series of events that threaten to end the pride.

'Each individual has a personal story of drama, intrigue and tragedy. This is an alternative view of lions, an intimate tale of a pride that has fallen on hard times,' says Sir David Attenborough who narrates.

The threat to survival is everywhere - cubs are killed by hyenas, pythons, owls and eagles, but adulthood is no guarantee of survival. Thirty years ago, the lions were decimated by a plague of blood-sucking flies; now the danger comes from other lions including an outcast lioness.

Despite my rantings, two examples of good American television are Seinfeld (Pearl, 11.45pm) and NYPD Blue (Pearl, 12.40am). Yet, tonight's episodes are the causes of my diatribe.

Hollywood's influence is so invasive, so all-probing that I can hardly read the synopsis for one show without a star or reference to another show appearing in it.

This episode of NYPD Blue is called ER ; in Seinfeld, Jerry, who is going to appear on an episode of The Tonight Show, takes George with him to California to look for Kramer, who disappeared months earlier but popped up on an episode of Murphy Brown.

While there, George accosts actor Corbin Bernsen with an idea he has for LA Law and then lectures Cheers star George Wendt about changes he would make in the show.

Is it that the Hollywood creators have simply run out of ideas or do they think the entire world revolves around them?