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And the good news is that autumn shades are here again. Yes, in hedgerows and catwalks the length and wholemeal breadth of Britain, the new range of autumn tints and hues is on display, from Indian summer yellow to Kashmir problem brown, sending the seasonal fashion writers into a tizzy of excitement.

‘Yes, indeed, a sensational new range of autumn hues is here this year,’ drools Mahonia Japonica, our girl in the shrubbery, ‘softening the landscape with a layer of freshly fallen, hand-grown leaves which stretch stunningly across the world of autumn in a symphony of chocolate browns, russets, pippins and blackberry crumble. September is out now and October is IN, and to celebrate the new month, they have created the most divine new look of drifting foliage, off-the shoulder old man's beard and a constant shimmer of falling chestnut leaves - but mind that cow pat!’

Yes, "Mind That Cow Pat!" is just one of the many hilarious new offerings in the new BBC autumn schedule, which was unveiled recently before a gasping crowd of acolytes in the presence of BBC Chairman Sir Pigling Bland. ‘Seventy-five autumns have come and gone, and still the BBC blunders on,’ said Sir Pigling Bland to cheers, before declaring autumn officially open with a season of repeats that no other broadcasting company can match. You saw it last year and you'll see it again next year and it's here again this year - yes, autumn! When the old countryman sets across the fields looking for the sloe bush to yield its annual crop of sloes for him to make his winter-long brew of gin and sugar and sloes, and keeps looking for the sloe bush, and goes on looking for the old sloe bush, but doesn't find it because it's been grubbed up by the conservation-minded farmer, so he says, ‘Oh, what the hell - this year I'll buy a bottle of sloe gin from Sainsbury, and be buggered to the old sloe bush!’

Yes, "Be buggered to the old sloe bush!" is a new wacky autumn BBC-TV food, drink and sex show in which contestants try and think up something new in the cooking line but fail, just one of the many new programme ideas on BBC this autumn, the channel that brought you Delia's Myth, and Rick's Time, and whatever happened to Keith Floyd? And two fat ladies, both dressed like mother, one's rather merry and so is the other, and all the Spice Girls (that's four of them, Dried Spice, Allspice, Mixed Spice and Mince Spice). And talking of currant affairs, the spin doctors have been out in the hedgerow again, stringing us all along with gossamer cobwebs, because it's…


And time for your child to take its baked bean tins to harvest festival now, though no British child knows where baked beans come from or where they grow, yet believe it or not, girls, baked bean brown is one of the top ten British autumn tints of all time! The others being 1) St Auburn's 2) Burnt Toast 3) Fading Summer Suntan 4) Old Army Khaki 5) Milk Chocolate 6) Natural Brunette 7) Knees Up Mrs Brown 8) Tea Bag Stain On The Table, and 9) Look What That Dog's Dun, because all roads lead to roan, and deep in the hedgerow something stirred, if it wasn't a badger it must be a bird, and it's nearly time for Guy Fawkes Night, when we try to set the garden alight, because it's…<


Season of chocs and drama-docs, and seized up locks and putting back clocks, when the sailor puts his boat away, and the farmer makes straw and girls make hay, and it's only 20,000 TV ads till Christmas, but forget about Christmas because it's still autumn and it's time to do whatever the opposite of spring cleaning is, autumn messing about, that's it! Messing up the landscape with squashed conkers, and nosy medlars, and rose-hip tinted spectacles, and unmade beds of bracken, and exhausted runner beans, and fox droppings, and falling fronds of the flower which you call foxglove but I call digitalis...

‘Yes, “You Call It Foxglove But I Call It Digitalis!” is the flagship comedy series of the new autumn schedule!’ said Sir Pigling Bland, addressing a host of notepads. ‘I don't know what a flagship comedy is, but I do know that we are entering a new digitalis era and if we don't keep up, we will fall behind, isn't that right, John?’

Yes, "Isn't That Right, John?" is a wacky new comedy about two TV bosses who agree not to fire each other, only everyone else, and it's on your TV sets every night from now on, and as the days get shorter and the nighties get longer, and the hot water bottles come out at night, and move mysteriously to the bottom of the bed in the dark, and the apples lie in silent rows in the shed, as dead as Remembrance Day, remember to wear your poppy with pride, because summer did her best but died, and it's now...


Coming soon: Winter.

The Independent Monday Oct 20 1997