Most of today's Socialist Worker readers will probably know Ricky Tomlinson best as Jim "My arse" Royle in the hugely popular Royle Family TV comedy, or his past role in Brookside.
Three young boys play ball in the street of an Irish working class neighbourhood in Boston. What follows will haunt them into their very different adult lives. Dave, in a great performance by Tim Robbins, has been left a broken man who won't let his own son out of his sight. Sean, played by Kevin Bacon, is a detective who is pulled back into the old neighbourhood to investigate a murder.
"THERE IS a mood among millions of people who understand that racism is on the increase fuelled by the attacks on asylum seekers," says Lee Billingham of the Anti Nazi League (ANL). "The majority of people are against the Nazis in huge numbers but it's a question of galvanising them."
A Little Piece Of Ground Elizabeth Laird McMillan Books, £8.99
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is no ordinary novel.
Micah Ian Wright
The recent TV drama about the poet Lord Byron concentrated on his sex life. Was there more to him than that?
WHEN 18 year old working class garage MC Dizzee Rascal picked up the Mercury Music Prize I was pleased, but something bugged me. It had nothing to do with his oversimplistic beats or the lack of content in his lyrics. I quite like his voice and style of flow.
NED KELLY is Australia's most famous bushranger. This new film shows how Ned tried to live a normal life but was continually set up by the local police, who are portrayed as brutal, corrupt and vengeful. He only turns to crime for revenge when he is accused of the attempted murder of a policeman. The police punish Ned's family by poisoning their wells and locking his mother up.
THIS CRACKING film about the power struggle between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown was dropped by ITV as "too sensitive". Luckily Channel 4 are screening it on the eve of Labour's conference. Like the recent The Project, it combines memorable newsreel footage with drama. The actors playing Blair and Brown are scarily true to life, although the Peter Mandelson character never gets close to explaining the man's power. The film shows how the drive to "modernise" Labour was born out of frustration with years of defeat by the Tories.
I USED to teach 10 and 11 year olds who were reluctant to leave their computers and read books. To encourage them, I started writing stories about children like them and read them chapters in class. I wanted to give them something they could identify with and they loved it. Harry Potter is written to an old-fashioned formula, like Billy Bunter and the Just William books. It's got the same old public schools and servants.
Black in the day: another story UK Black Tuesday 23 September, 8.30pm, Radio 2
WHAT WOULD popular music in Britain sound like if there had been no migration of people from the Caribbean? And what was it about the experiences of blacks in Britain that led them to create such vibrant and path-breaking sounds? In this series Courtney Pine interviews musicians, DJs, clubbers and promoters with some brilliant insights along the way.
"BBC PROGRAMMES are revoltingly coarse," said a Cambridge professor reviewing the BBC's modern retelling of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Chaucer's raunchy stories have been popular since he wrote them in the late 13th century. The new tales feature actors like Dennis Waterman, James Nesbitt and Julie Walters. Don't be put off by school memories of Chaucer. This is a cut above the usual fare.
The Key is a major new drama about three generations of working class women in Glasgow. Their story reveals an inspiring history of political activism and working class militancy rarely seen on TV. Donna Franceschild wrote The Key. She spoke to Socialist Worker about why political drama is back in fashion.
THE ATKINS diet has been splashed all over newspapers and magazines recently, and has spawned a bestselling book.
WORKERS FROM three Tyneside shipyards walked out on strike on Friday of last week in an unofficial dispute over pay.
BEHIND THE scare stories in the press about asylum and immigration there is a real story to be told. It is the story of how, for centuries, people have been forced to move thousands of miles to escape persecution or find work.
Valerie Martin’s novel Property tells the story of a slave revolt on a sugar plantation in the US Deep South. Manon, the planter's wife, narrates it. Manon misses the excitement and culture of New Orleans, where she was brought up. More than anything she wants to be free of her boorish husband. She is appalled by his violence and sadistic cruelty and contrasts him with her father, who had a paternalistic attitude to his slaves. In the background there are rumours of slave rebellion.
In the new "reality" TV series Masters and Servants, two families take turns at being the masters and then the servants. In the first programme the posh Cheryl Allen Stevens and her husband showed themselves to be arrogant, disdainful and willing to humiliate those they thought beneath them.