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Tuesday, 28 March, 2000, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK
Alford makes dramatic comeback
John Alford
Alford, formerly of London's Burning, appears in Black Cab
Former London's Burning actor John Alford will make his TV comeback in a one-off drama as part of BBC Two's spring and summer season.

Alford, 27, who played Billy Ray in the hit ITV series, was released from prison wearing an electronic tag last summer after serving seven weeks of a nine-month sentence for drug offences.

Viewers will now be able to see him again playing a taxi passenger in a one-off film called Talk Radio.

Rhona Cameron
Rhona Cameron stars in the first British sitcom about lesbians
The 10-minute short is part of the Black Cab series, unveiled by BBC Two as a highlight of its new season.

A spokesman for the channel defended the decision to cast Alford.

"John Alford was called to account and served his time, and that's all in the past. It does not affect his ability as an actor," he said.

Fresh talent

Black Cab consists of 10 independently-produced dramas played out in the back of a taxi cab.

The series is designed to showcase the work of burgeoning writers and directors, including ex-EastEnders actress Susan Tully.

Other star names in front of the camera in Black Cab include ex-Ballykissangel actor Stephen Tompinkson and acclaimed television, film and stage actress Harriet Walter.

Coupling tackles 30-something relationship angst
Elsewhere in the 75m new line-up, BBC Two is promising a range of drama, entertainment, comedy and factual programming "with the customary contemporary twist that is the trade mark of the channel".

In comedy, Rhona is the first British sitcom based around the life of a lesbian, starring comedienne and presenter Rhona Cameron.

While Coupling, starring Gina Bellman of Blackeyes fame and Jack Davenport from hit BBC Two drama This Life, takes a wry look at the dilemma of moving in with a partner.

On the entertainment front, BBC Two continues its tradition of theme nights by devoting an entire evening to the 1970s.

Madame Bovary
Pulses race in Madame Bovary
Everything from films, footage and archive ads will be revived for I Love the 1970s. Movie buffs can revisit the classics Get Carter and Love Story and disco and punk classics will be heard.

The new season also sees a twist given to lavish literary adaptations with a dramatisation of Madame Bovary from the 19th century French novelist Gustave Flaubert.

Unprecedented interviews

The new version of the romantic tragedy, which caused a scandal in its day, stars Australian actress Frances O'Connor as the passionate, and socially ambitious Emma Bovary.

Greg Wise and Joe McGann also appear and BBC Two says the serial "unflinchingly explores the lust that motivates the story in a way not attempted since the book was first written".

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver cooks up a storm in The Naked Chef
Among the season's factual highlights is the series Brits - The War Against the IRA, from award-winning journalist Peter Taylor.

The programmes are based on unprecedented interviews with the British intelligence officers who attempted to keep the British army ahead of the IRA.

And in Behind Bars, prison life is examined through the eyes of inmates and the guards who keep order in modern jails.

Popular favourites returning to BBC Two include Clarkson's Car Years and a new series of The Naked Chef with Jamie Oliver.

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See also:

20 Mar 00 | Entertainment
BBC springs into summer
08 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Gormenghast leads BBC Two winter
30 Nov 98 | Entertainment
BBC plans dramatic winter
16 Jul 99 | Entertainment
London's Burning star released
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