S-Files: The New Gold Rush

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 March, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 March, 2000, 12:00am

Before we all think of rushing to Cyber-Port to make our fortunes, stop and watch S-Files: The New Gold Rush (Pearl, 8.30pm). This gives us a taste of what could be in store when a new generation of young people follow in the footsteps of Richard Li Tzar-kai and Bill Gates, making astounding amounts of money before the age of 30 from the new cyber world.

This programme hails from the BBC and offers an alternative view of Silicon Valley to that portrayed in ATV's admiring series One Billion A Day, which ended last week. Yes, some or even many may be making their millions. But The New Gold Rush looks at the other side of success, at the type of new rich it is creating. Many viewers, of course, may see this as sour grapes from the old world, which has been a little less gungho than California and Hong Kong in embracing the cyber future. Ordinary Britons, after all, still tend to prefer a pint or four in the pub to living through the computer and getting overheated on the Internet about their favourite interests.

The IPO, as we know from the Tom.com experience, is the mantra of this new gold rush. But the supposedly cultured people who make programmes like this are quick to note how boring computer scientists are, examining their lifestyles and finding them lacking. They even need businesses to teach them how to eat properly, it tells us. Mr Gates is the revered god of this generation of Internet rich young people but even he is criticised for only recently living up to the wider social responsibilities of his unbelievable wealth.

Not everyone in Silicon Valley is reaping its riches. Outside cyber world, even in the Valley, life goes on as normal for most people.

That is very much the case in Mike Leigh's British movie Secrets And Lies (Movie 2, 8.30pm), about a young, black, middle-class optometrist (Marianne Jean-Baptiste, pictured) who sets out in search of her natural mother. What she finds is a sad, boozy white woman saddled with an underachieving daughter who works as a road sweeper.

There have been many Hollywood versions of this kind of story, such as the Made In America clash between Whoopi Goldberg's intellectual daughter and her ignorant and racist white father. But with the texture of bickering family life, this one is Leigh realism at its best, and about as far from Hollywood and Silicon Valley as you can get.