Byline: Annie Brown
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW once said: "Alcohol is the anaesthetic through which we endure the operation of life."
It's a sobering thought, contemplated at length in BBC2's Booze - One For the Road.
With a refreshing absence of sanctimony Jeremy Bowen spoke to the men and women for whom uncorking a bottle was once comparable with opening heaven's door. The downside of course was the one way ticket it brought to hell.
As Larry Hagman put it: "It was pleasant. I never had anything untoward happen - except at the end, when they said I was going to die."
He recalled how he had played the role of JR through a "haze of booze" - which probably was a Godsend and took the tremble out of Sue Ellen's lips.
Then we met Professor Robert Swain, who was the only man ever to walk to both the North and South Poles.
"If you walk both poles then you kind of need a drink," he said.
Well, you would I suppose.
The problem was that his idea of a warming nip was three bottles of wine a night.
He's been sober a few years, but described alcohol with such lustful longing I feared he might crack open a bottle of Merlot and toast his sobriety.
"It was like a taste of heaven," he said. "It made everything seem better sex, ideas, thoughts. It was like rocket fuel."
Then we watched Toby, a 41-year- old alcoholic, check in to a drying out clinic still staggering from the night before.
"I am sick of being sick," he said. "I am as scared as hell, but I have to stop the madness." And he did, too.
Sharon Ozbourne the long suffering wife of hedonistic rocker Ozzy recanted tales of hiding his clothes to stop him going out.
Not to be put off, Ozzy donned her maternity dress and headed for a New York bar.
She said, with admirable candour: "I beat the sh*t out of him and he beat the sh*t out of me and we'd get nowhere."
Ozzy only contemplated kicking the bottle after trying to strangle her in a drunken rage leaving her so terrified that she actually wet herself.
A survey for the programme found us to be a nation in denial. Only three per cent of people asked admitted they had a booze habit but 60 per cent said they knew someone who did.
No matter what Jeremy Bowen presents he comes across as just the kind of guy you want to share a pint with - non-alcoholic, of course.
PAULINE Fowler takinga Marigold clad hand across Lisa's face.
A beautiful moment spoiled only by Lisa failing to return the blow with
How gutting for Lara to have accepted a marriage proposal from Casualty's Patrick only for him to collapse with a heart attack. Worse still the ring he gave her wouldn't pass her knuckle. Still he's not dead yet so he might get it back to the shop.
Give this the order of boot
WHAT were your best moments on the telly of 2001?
According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, it included the English winning 5-1 against Germany and that Beckham free kick against Greece, which won the phone vote.
Expect replays of these 'golden' moments over and over again in the coming months. …