New format more up-beat

Teri Fitsell

THE curtain goes up on World's new current affairs programme today, following the axing of the worthy, but often dull Monday Monitor.

Chief presenter Sally Round promises that its replacement, Inside Story (World 8.30pm) will be ''more up-beat - still serious, but not too earnest''.

The format too has become more flexible, no longer comprising two main stories, but usually one in-depth report and several shorter ones. Overseas in-put will come from links with an American programme called Inside Edition and from an Australian TV channel.

The first programme includes a look at the dangers of dabbling in foreign exchange, and Mona Liu talking to a trans-sexual, a man who's in the process of becoming a woman, about the psychological problems involved.

NOT to be outdone, the competition's weekly current affairs show, The Pearl Report (7.35pm) travels to Vietnam to cover a story that involves Shakespeare, Ho Chi Minh and a British lawyer.

The Hongkong Players recently became the first English-language theatre company to perform in Vietnam, a trip that came about because of a connection with the daughter of a British lawyer who helped free Ho Chi Minh from a Hongkong jail in the 1930s.

JONATHAN Demme's Married to the Mob (Pearl 9.45pm, Original Running Time 103 mins) is a gloriously tacky send up the low-life characters involved in organised crime.

Michelle Pfeiffer (Dangerous Liaisons) plays gum-chewing Angela, who tries to escape the Mafia life after her hitman husband, Frank ''Cucumber'' De Marco (Kim Basinger's love interest Alec Baldwin) gets himself iced. Trouble is, bossman Tony ''The Tiger'' Russo - played hilariously by Dean Stockwell - has the hots for Angela.

He follows her to the city, and in turn is followed by ''the only person in the world The Tiger is scared of'', his ogress of a wife (Mercedes Ruehl). And on the trail of all them is FBI agent Downey (Matthew Modine).

Spot-on casting coupled with Demme's attention to the kitschy details of the mobsters lives - from the wives' back-combed hairstyles to their houses furnished exclusively with stolen goods - make this one special.

THE 1983 TV movie The Hound of the Baskervilles (STAR Plus 8pm, ORT 103 mins) is probably the best of the five screen versions made to date of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book.

Ian Richardson (House of Cards), a spirited and witty Holmes, heads a sterling cast that includes Denholm Elliott and Brian Blessed.

HAVEN'T seen A Father's Revenge (World 9.45pm, ORT 96 mins), but its star Brian Dennehy, veteran of films like The Belly of an Architect, F/X and the TV series Edge of Darkness is always worth watching.

He plays the father of an air stewardess who's kidnapped by terrorists. He plays them at their own violent game in order to save her.