Saturday, December 10, 2011

Westmeath's link to the 1916 Rising by Ivor Casey

Westmeath is not usually considered when it comes to remembering the 1916 Rising but there is certainly one Westmeath man linked to the fight for an independent Ireland who had much involvement. In what is the 30th anniversary of his death, the man I refer to is Tomás Malone. Born in 1896, in Meedin, near Tyrrellspass, Tomás was the son of William and Máire Malone. He was educated at the Franciscan College, Multyfarnham and became qualified in Greek and Irish. However, his family’s deep Republican nature saw him take an interest in the struggle for Independence. In 1912, Liam Mellows, founder member of the Irish volunteers, enrolled him in ‘Na Fianna Éireann’ (The Republican boys movement) and the Malones would become a driving force of Republicanism in Co. Westmeath. 

Tomás’ motivation was influenced largely by his mother. She had been a national school teacher, dismissed from her job for teaching children their prayers in Irish. She staged a sit in but was removed by the RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary) and the local Catholic priest. As a result she ended up teaching Irish to children in her home at night. Tomás’ connection with 1916 began when he heard of the events that were transpiring in Dublin. With his brothers, Séamus and Seosamh, and other Irish Volunteers he barricaded his home when police came to carry out a search. The defeat of Irish fighters in Dublin caused Malone to withdraw from his rebellion and he was arrested. Serving a sentence at three different jails including Kilmainham Gaol, he came in contact with other like minded Irish Republicans. After release from prison he was elected to the Army Council of the Volunteers and in 1918 combined this occupation with the native tongue as he began teaching Irish while he travelled the country. Malone was deeply affected by the ideals which inspired the Irish language movement. As well as preserving, arguably, the country’s most important source of identity from Great Britain he used his teaching of the Irish language as a method of recruiting other "freedom fighters". 

Tomás took on the alias of Sean Forde, as he became deeply involved in the Republican movement, arranging and committing ambushes on British forces. He eventually became a Commandant, based in East Limerick and he helped establish the first Flying Column in Ireland. Tomás played a major part in bringing about the surrender of Ballylanders RIC barracks on 27 April 1920. He felt it was ‘the biggest such attack’ undertaken by the column. It lasted several hours, in which two RIC men were killed and eight wounded, while one Republican was killed and two were injured. Tomás also headed the attack on Killmallock barracks, in which it was burned to the ground. His column also succeeded in an attack against military forces at Grange, between Bruff and Limerick City. 

In December 1920, Malone was caught and sent to prison on Spike Island off the Cork coast, but the prison authorities were not aware that they were detaining such a notorious Republican on the island. Although a fellow prisoner let slip who Malone was, the British needed a formal identification of the Republican and sent for someone who could pinpoint the IRA man. Nonetheless, their only source of uncovering the truth was executed by the IRA before he reached the island. In the meantime, General Liam Lynch, of the Cork No.2 Brigade, became aware of the circumstances. Lynch sent Malone a message stating, ‘we will get you out of there - it will only be a matter of time before they identify you’. The Cork Brigade HQ instructed that a plan of escape be organised from the island. The three men to be rescued were Tomás Malone, Sean Twomey and Sean MacSwiney, the brother of the martyred Cork Lord Mayor, Terence. On 29 April 1921, Tomás Malone and the two fellow prisoners, were outside working on the prison grounds when they overpowered the guards and achieved a victorious and dramatic escape as an IRA boat, marked with a union jack, awaited them in the harbour. 

At a later point, Tomás took the anti-treaty side and was again put in prison, now at Portlaoise, then known as Marysborough Jail. Here Michael Collins visited him requesting he use his influence to bring an end to the Civil War. Collins suggested a peace meeting between Malone and Commanding Cork born Republicans, Tom Hales and Tom Barry. This was one of the last movements of Collins as he was soon assassinated on 22 August 1922. Portlaoise prison was burned down by prisoners and Malone was transferred to the Curragh where, in 1923, he made his last ever prison break, hiding in a cart that was removing kitchen waste. By now Independence had been declared and in 1925 he took a job as a school teacher in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, eventually becoming Principal. Nenagh would remain his home until his death in 1981. Although Tomás Malone was a man whose adventures to overthrow Crown forces brought him to various spots around Ireland, he will always be a Westmeath man. Tomás Malone's attempts to rebel against Britain in 1916 marked Westmeath as the only county between Dublin and Galway where bullets were fired in the attempt for Ireland to become an independent nation. 

- Ivor Casey 

(Amended from article previously printed in The Wesmeath Independent, The Westmeath Examiner and Ireland's Own)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Che Guevara: The anti-Gay "icon"? by Ivor Casey

He is called a revolutionary. He is a cherished hero to some, a simple face in an iconic photograph to others. His image is used by fashion designers for marketable kitsch, which ironically goes against the politics he stood for. His legacy is used as a symbolic force for political goals but is also used by a certain section of hardcore socialists as propaganda to manipulate angry young people. Turn a corner on any city street in Ireland and his image dons the face of a t-shirt, usually worn by somebody convinced it highlights their liberalism. However, Che Guevara, the man worshipped for fighting the capitalist system to try and instil a fairer and more generous left-wing socialist system, also helped instil a system that could be considered to be an embodiment of far right-wing styled bigotry, when it came to human rights and most notably gay rights. For decades this side of his and the Cuban revolution's history has been misinterpreted and misunderstood by mostly misguided anarchists who seem to turn a blind eye to the safety of minority groups.

The initial and watered down rhetoric of Guevara’s story, carefully chosen by his supporters is one which revolves around a young man from Argentina, who on his travels in Latin America witnessed the extreme poverty and starvation of one section of society while the other side basked in great wealth and riches. From here the story escalates into a narrative of a man trying to dismantle the capitalist structures which can be argued to cause such economic inequality. His story tells of a guerrilla fighter who subsequently constructed a socialist regime. He set out on adventures to overthrow American supported leaders in Cuba, was supported by insurgents and became a key figure of the Cuban revolution, working with Fidel Castro under a new government. His ethic of fighting and supporting class struggle is one to be easily admired and one which I, as somebody who is highly supportive of a redistribution of wealth, commend. However, regarding the 1960's Cuban revolutionaries specifically, this take is unfortunately used as a knee jerk reaction for reverence and glorification.

Under the new Cuban revolution, a revolution which was supposed to be about bringing about socialist principles of a classless society and true equality, various groups of vulnerable people were singled out for persecution. Having fought their way into power the Cuban revolutionaries lead an abuse of power excluding and banning what they desired even if it had nothing directly to do with their specific cause of a classless society. This notably included, among all things rock ‘n’ roll music and homosexuality.This thinking immediately aligns them with the conservatives in America who also opposed these things. However, unlike the American conservatives, Guevara and his associates had past leaders within their political spectrum whom to learn from such as Vladimir Lenin, whose new acts in 1922 decriminalised homosexuality. This had been a daring move, later overturned by Stalin.

Although there are apparently no glaringly obvious quotes to highlight any hardcore homophobia on the part of Che Guevara, he does allude to a disgust of homosexuality in his memoirs, where upon speaking about a particular individual he notes "the episode upset us a little because the poor man, apart from being homosexual and a first rate bore, had been very nice to to us...". Highlighting the man's sexuality as a point of negative criticism may appear mild to some, but for a man of this power and persuasion, his comment projects a homophobic thinking.

Under the Cuban revolution, the system fought for by Guevara and his associates, established ‘labour camps’, known as the UMAP labour camps, to incarcerate gay people, among other groups, which mostly included people of a religious background. These were Cuba's new concentration camps, set up so the new socialist government could rid their nation of homosexuality, which was somehow believed to be a product of capitalism. Gay artists were censored and gay people in government lost their jobs. The UMAP camps subjected homosexuals to brutal torture and some inmates committed suicide. Not only gay men were incarcerated but effeminate men were also imprisoned. People who did not fit into the fascist vision of masculinity were imprisoned without charge or trial and forced to adhere to the notion of masculinity through slave labour.

In these camps gay men who had been rounded up were subjected to rehabilitation and re-education. An argument that “the times” were different is nullified by Lenin's 1922 acts, and the fact that the revolution was setting out to change “the times” but whatever it did, gave no thought or consideration to minorities. If socialism, as revolutionaries in Cuba saw it, was supposed to be this greater, fairer advancement on capitalism and human rights, where was the advancement for homosexuals? It appears the price paid for an improved social welfare system was the freedom of a minority. A claim that Guevara was not in Cuba during the existence of these camps, therefore excusing him, is irrelevant as it didn't take him to physically be around for the ideology to be enforced. The fact that he had enormous power over the way Cuba operated, implicates him as an important part of this brutal treatment. Under no circumstances is it or was it ever acceptable to persecute people based on their sexuality, not now and not then, especially when the whole point of the revolution was only to end an aggressive and greedy capitalist and right-wing system. 

While the pre-revolution Cuba was no safe haven for gay people, the man who would go on to be so revered for being a revolutionary was incapable of going the distance with a fight for human rights. It was not until after Guevara was killed in 1967 that these camps were closed by Castro when he witnessed first hand the harsh conditions, as well as their negative attention worldwide. Nonetheless, homosexuality was not decriminalised in Cuba until 1979.

By the 1980's some homophobic attitudes were relaxed including the Ministry of Culture stating that homophobic bigotry was unacceptable. Castro has even expressed regret for the treatment of gay people during the earlier period of the revolution. Nonetheless, in the fifty years since, there has been very little revolutionary practice on behalf of human or civil rights for gay people. Gay clubs and organisations are banned and as of 2011, gay people are not allowed either marriage or civil partnership and there are no laws prohibiting 'hate speech'. For all the differences claimed and fought for between socialism and capitalism, one thing is for certain and that is that gay rights seem to be insignificant, even within the system that parades itself on being egalitarian and revolutionary. Che Guevara may have revolted against corrupt capitalists, making him an admirable and iconic symbol of social change. Nevertheless, while mostly young people succumb to the promotion of a false hero, with regard to all round human rights, and don the face of who they think was some noble warrior (or a rock star), it must be remembered that the UMAP camps were stringently homophobic and a serious part of what his revolution instilled. On the other hand, an entire section of the consumer market may have no idea who this face belongs to, accepting it as some random mass market pop culture figure, something Guevara himself scorned.


- Ivor Casey


Bibliography:

  • Bejel, Emilio. Gay Cuban Nation (University of Chicago Press, 2001)
  • Dore, Elizabeth & Carrie Hamilton. Sexual Revolutions in Cuba: Passion, Politics and Memory (Envisioning Cuba) (The University of North Carolina Press, 2012)
  • Goldman, Dave E. Out of Bounds: Islands and the Demarcation of Identity in the Hispanic Caribbean (Bucknell Studies in Latin American Literature and Theory), (Bucknell University Press, 2008)
  • Guevara, Ernesto. The Motorcycle Diaries (Ocean Press, 2003)
  • Improper Conduct, (Dirs. Néstor Almendros & Orlando Jiménez Leal, 1984)
  • Lumsden, Ian. Machos, Maricones and Gays: Cuba and Homosexuality (Temple University Press, 1996)
  • Tatchell, Peter. 'Gay Rights and Wrongs in Cuba', http://www.pinktriangle.org.uk/glh/213/cuba.html

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Thought on Becoming a Stronger Individual by Ivor Casey

ONE of my deepest felt philosophies in which I'll always adhere to is to remember those friends who were there for you during your darkest hours and just walk away from those who appeared to be giving on one hand, but taking with the other. What this ultimately means is to, without complete devotion, simply never forget the people who expressed concern for you without any manipulation to get something in return, whether it was some superficial desire to pry into your private life for personal satisfaction or to rally support for a clique in which a hierarchy exists. What needs to be done to find a better sense of who you are is to not fall subservient to these groups. 

In times of doubt and anxiety always be careful not to trust too many people who claim to be your friend, as some will take advantage of your vulnerability. Avoid the cliques in times of sorrow as they will chew you to bits by delving into this vulnerability and extracting the information they want to toss about as gossip. Always keep in mind the individuals who were there on a personal and considerate level and who, no matter how many times you might have repeated yourself, still stood by and kept you strong as you found your path. Just walk away from those who have used your depression or personal issues for gossip and never be intimidated into believing you need a clique. Through sensitivity, depression and vulnerability people often collapse into cliques, which only prove to be a false sense of security.

When you are still maturing, finding your own sense of identity and finding your sense of place in the world it is very easy to get caught in a clique out of peer pressure and societal expectations. Those with depression and anxiety issues often sustain a deep sensitivity where they will lose a lot of self respect and self esteem. Maturity has no age limits. Maturity will only become more prevalent the more a person strengthens their confidence and the more they find their place in the world. This can manifest itself by finding other "individuals" and finally somebody who genuinely loves you. Cliques by their very nature exist to keep people thinking the same thoughts, to keep the same frame of mind and strengthen an insular world without room for growth, diversity or change. As a team, their power over others can strip the more impressionable members of original thought and individuality, by pushing ideologies and belittling individuals who have different ideas.

It can be difficult to remove yourself from this but the pressures of a clique will only have a damaging and negative impact. Those in cliques have political agendas and their foremost personalities are not of an artistic, sensitive or emotionally intelligent nature. They want everybody to stay the same to push the ideology of the hierarchy. However, human beings are not mere pawns, we are individuals who can survive with other individuals, not groups of random faces. Always remember to be an individual, for it is by being an individual you will discover who you are and not what is expected of you.

If you are ever being bullied, threatened or intimidated, don't think you are the problem for being bothered by it and don't let any assumed superiority tell you otherwise. Don't let anybody who has not shared your experiences tell you how you are to live your life. Remember that nobody has any idea what is going on in the life of another person and there is no justification to judge. Just walk away from the people who are a negative force in your life as you do not need them. And never let the cliques manipulate you into thinking you have done something wrong by "deserting". The cliques have each other but as an individual you need to save yourself. Invest your energy in those with whom you can bond to make life somewhat more productive, cheerful and positive.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Remembering the Seductive Soul of Barry White by Ivor Casey

IT has been 50 years since a petty thief suddenly decided to change his ways after listenting to Elvis Presley sing "It's Now or Never" while in prison. This thief would go on to become one of the most cherished love singers of all time. His voice has often been compared to the feeling of melting caramel. A description of the lustful, lascivious and libidinous sounds of Barry White who became known as ‘the Guru of love’ for his lush bass and velvet voice. A silky smooth, sultry voice highlighted in such sexually charged songs as “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Babe” and “Just The Way You Are”. Sexually flavoured and deliciously romantic numbers, which instinctively set the scene for dimmed lights, candles, slow undressing and body contact.

Born into a humble environment on 12 September 1944, in Galveston, Texas, Barry moved to Los Angeles where he spent the rest of his childhood with his brother and single mother. White explained that he was shocked by his unusually deep vocals, which emerged over night when he was still a teenager. From a young age he discovered an enthusiasm for music and began performing with a Baptist choir. However, as a teenager his musical interests took a back-seat to his life in petty crime and in 1961 he was sentenced to five months in prison for stealing tyres.

It was while in prison that Barry was once again inspired by the allure of music when he heard Elvis sing. The song was a calling and reached out to young Barry who suddenly realised that it was time for him to do something special with his life. Throughout the 1960’s White tried desperately to succeed in the music business and began writing love songs. He became a record producer for the group “Love Unlimited” but discovered the talent to sing his own songs with his mellifluous voice, which lead to his first solo hit in 1973, “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Babe”.

It was his butter smooth vocals which helped create the sensual charisma in his stimulating love songs “Let The Music Play” and “You’re The First, The Last, My Everything”. The soulful, suggestive and sensuous performer sold over 100 million records and had a career that spread further than three decades. He became a master of 1970’s disco and funk with the hits, “Love’s Theme” and “Never Gonna Give You Up” and his effortless but distinctive talent mesmerised millions of lovers across the world. It has been claimed the orgiastic sensations of his music helped influence the baby boom of the 1970s across America. His music’s overtly sexual connotations were extremely high pitched as the tantalising, thrusting and throbbing erotic power in both the lyrics and his vocals created a salacious, sensual and steamy sensation. Songs such as “It’s All About Love” and “Oh Me, Oh My, I’m Such A Lucky Guy”, with the deep breathing and gentle groans of satisfaction, were highly representative of passionate sexual intercourse in the most romantic, virtuous and celestial ways.

Barry’s career took a downfall in the 1980’s and his attempts at staging a comeback failed until his 1994 album release of “The Icon Is Love”, which became his next great hit. He enjoyed a return to concert performances and the charts throughout the 1990’s and appeared on the TV shows The Simpsons and Ally McBeal and performed a duet with Luciano Pavarotti. Unfortunately, too much touring took its toll and he was hospitalised several times for exhaustion. His health began to decline and he had severely high blood pressure. Between September 2002 and May 2003 he suffered from kidney failure and suffered a stroke which affected his voice and the left side of his body. He had been undergoing dialysis treatment and was awaiting a kidney transplant when he suddenly died at Cedars-Sinai medical centre in Los Angeles on 4 July 2003.

Barry White produced a genuine understanding of sensorial music by being a natural, instinctive and suave performer. His recordings have enjoyed great success to this day and while testosterone levels remain rampant and consenting couples with high sex drives desire seductive songs, he will continue to be a tremendous and timeless talent, never to be forgotten for those provocative, permeating and penetrating sounds.

- Ivor Casey


Monday, January 31, 2011

Film Composer John Barry dies at 77 by Ivor Casey

FILM music composer John Barry has died at the age of 77 from a heart attack. For over forty years the alluring strings to the dramatic brass of his resplendent compositions lit up the silver screen. In 2008 he was invited to host a concert celebrating his music at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. I was very fortunate to have been in attendance on this occasion and it is an event which will resonate with me for the rest of my life. What follows is an amended version of my report on that concert in June 2008.

'John Barry: The Man with the Golden Touch'

This was John Barry’s first time performing in Ireland, having been invited to be the guest of honour by RTE Lyric FM’s Aedín Gormley, for the channel’s Movies and Musicals programme. As the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra took their places, Ms. Gormley opened the show, introducing the evening’s line-up, followed by John Barry himself. The composer walked on stage cheerfully to a rapturous and passionate applause, took a bow and without hesitation, guided the orchestra into his sensational theme to Goldfinger. Keeping, at first, to the James Bond films, which catapulted him to fame, he followed this performance with We Have All The Time In The World from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Unfortunately but understandbly as the guest of honour, John Barry departed the stage to view the rest of the evening from the balconey with his family. He was replaced by the excellent conductor Nicholas Dodd, who took over for the rest of the night. Dodd is also associated with the movie business, having conducted the orchestral scores for the last four James Bond films, as well as other Hollywood hits such as Independence Day and Godzilla. He has mastered a deep understanding of the music of John Barry and was the ideal candidate for the concert, as he energetically conducted the orchestra through many of the exquisite compositions from the great composer.

The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, lead by Alan Smale on violin, were also at the top of their league, as their renditions of the music were orchestrated flawlessly. Performances included the histrionic score to Zulu, the poignant theme from Somewhere In Time, the moodiness of Midnight Cowboy, the wondrous melody of Born Free and the sensuous sounds from Body Heat, to name just a few. The audience were left enraptured as the music ventured through a range of emotions, inspiring adrenaline and melancholy. The highlights of the event could be found in two of Barry’s greatest works, Out of Africa and Dances With Wolves, delivered in all their lush and thrilling grandeur.

John Barry was born in York, England and now lives in Oyster Bay, New York. He was the son of an Irish born cinema owner and it was the experience and atmosphere of being around movies which inspired Barry, who decided early on that he wanted to compose movie music. He studied music under Stan Kenton and after a three year stint in the army, he began the ‘John Barry Seven’, a rock ‘n’roll band in the 1950’s. Having become acquainted with the rock ‘n’ roll musician Adam Faith, who went on to star in the film Beat Girl, Barry was granted the opportunity to make his movie soundtrack debut.

This lead a couple of years later to an offer of working on the music for the first James Bond film Dr. No, in 1962. This was to be his breakthrough moment as he went onto compose the music for a further eleven Bond films, which helped elevate him to the legendary status which he hails today. However, it is outside of the James Bond recordings in which Barry’s accolades and genius have reached their highest levels. He is the winner of five academy awards, two for Born Free and one each for The Lion In Winter, Out Of Africa and Dances With Wolves.

Unfortunately Barry has been somewhat misplaced by Hollywood in recent years with its drift away from the melodic splendour and feeling, as found across all of his work. Barry feels that many, often wonderful, film composers today fail to compose melody, which he finds important in a great soundtrack composition. While his work not only incorporates some of the greatest melodies ever written, the emotion behind his music takes on a mythical quality of special symbolic significance, with a deep resonating narrative of passion, pathos and poignancy. Barry exudes the rare ability to strike at the very core of human emotion.

At the climax of the evening, John Barry was invited back on stage, more than once, to another resounding applause and standing ovation, where he conveyed his gratitude for the wonderful reception and was presented with a crystal bowl on behalf of Lyric FM. Although movie music history has many great composers who have created spectacular melodies, it is the combination of melody and tenderness which nobody has perfected quite like John Barry.
_________________________________

John Barry is a musician who goes beyond the realms of the movie business, to being possibly the greatest classical composer of our day. It is such attributes that John Barry retained until his death today which indeed make him the man with the golden touch on music.


- Ivor Casey


Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Return of TV's Super-soap Dallas! by Ivor Casey

Today it may seem like one of those old shows deliberately avoiding an integral examination of society and class or the subordinate. However when the oil-baron super-soap Dallas first hit TV screens over 30 years ago it did manage to break down barriers for popular culture, besides bringing its audience into unequalled escapist fantasy. Now almost twenty years since it last aired, it has been announced that a new series of Dallas, focusing primarily on the next generation of characters, is in the pipeline. Once again, TV viewers confined to their homes due to the recession, just like in the 1980s, will be brought into a surreal world of glamour and absurd yet delicious drama and plot lines. 

In Spring of 1978, a five episode pilot was screened and after proving popular the first season was commissioned to begin in September. Lasting 13 years Dallas became the most successful television series of all time, gaining over 350 million viewers world-wide. Its plots and success made news headlines and it became one of the most talked about entertainment sources for a decade. Especially with the “Who Shot JR?” plot which set the trend for all TV cliff-hangers since.

It is now seen as the foremost example for academic critique of American cultural imperialism and hegemony, with its original series referred to as 'a cheap TV show dumped on developing countries'. Nevertheless Dallas did and still does manage to help people put aside their troubles for an hour and see the fun side of extreme wealth, or maybe even the actually unglamorous side as the wealthy constantly appeared to be up against some troubling experience after another. Nothing like it had ever been on television before and never had a weekly series been an event. Revolving around the feuding Ewing and Barnes families Dallas incorporated everything desired for a passive entertainment TV show, with greed, power, murder and deceit. It was clearly politically incorrect and it certainly favoured chauvinism, but it managed to break some social barriers, even if it didn’t use the platform it held for many positive and constructive reasons. In Ireland conventional parents and priests ridiculed its content as blasphemous for its high pitched sexual innuendo, too liberal for TV. However, its massive popularity here conveyed an ever changing Ireland. Its main reason for such hype and controversy was the sexually rampant and shrewd businessman, JR Ewing, played by Larry Hagman, who is reported to be reprising his role in the upcoming series. It was JR and his company, Ewing Oil, that became the centre focus for the show as it emphasised how successful businesses can achieve. With ferocious greed, back-stabbing, ruthlessness, walking over your own mother to get ahead, the show detailed key ingredients of corporate success. JR was a corrupt, evil and manipulative womaniser but this made his character all the more appealing.

It could be found that an ideology representing capitalism and self made millionaires, glorifying the so called ‘American Dream’, suggested to the viewers around the world that you could have whatever you wanted, once you worked hard for it under a Capitalist system. Dallas was followed by similar dramas such as Falcon Crest and Dynasty which followed a parallel pattern. With regard to social themes, while Dallas stayed away from racism it failed to ever include a main character of any minority group or race other than Anglo - Caucasian men and women. The main characters were the apotheosis of the white, heterosexual, western male. It can be argued that the series was mainly about the oil business but that it also managed to cover topics not common in TV dramas prior to this and included stories, if only ever briefly, involving homosexuality, affairs, mis-carriages, ill-health, down syndrome, divorce and extra-marital sex. A two hour episode in 1980 dedicated a story to the matriarch of the drama, Miss Ellie, played by Barbra Bel Geddes, being diagnosed with breast cancer and having to undergo a mastectomy. However, possibly the most ever current of social issues raised in the series was the alcoholism of JR Ewing’s neglected wife, Sue Ellen, played by Linda Gray. One particular plot line, which highlighted the effects of alcoholism at its very worst, showing its victims on the brink of death, helped raise the show above the candy floss delights of wealth and power. Sue Ellen was frequently shown as the down trodden and unfortunate wife of an evil man.

Nothing has replaced Dallas with its original and classy technique of mixing glamour and wealth with tension and grandiose suspense. Although most soaps are cheap and fatuous, with low production values, Dallas was shot like a movie. Dallas was expensive, hard-hitting and intriguing entertainment, with very little as equally stylish made since. What remains to be seen is if the new series will live up to the original, which has found a whole new generation of fans due to its regular repeats across TV and the successful sales of all its seasons on DVD. Besides Larry Hagman, the new Dallas is reported to have Patrick Duffy on board as Bobby, as well a possible return for Linda Gray as Sue Ellen. The show will also star Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe taking the reins of the new generation. It will begin filming closer to summer with a screening in Summer 2012.

- Ivor Casey