Lynch's testimony was further underlined by menacing theme music; and this kind of underlining went on throughout the programme, giving an unnecessarily dramatic ring to facts stark enough to stand up on their own. For it to work in dramatic terms, you would have wanted some kind of conflict, and nobody seems to be pretending that what the government did was defensible, including the government. This isn't to say the programme didn't work - it was genuinely shocking; but it would have been easier to feel more if it hadn't hit you over the head so much.
Something similar went wrong with Lost Childhood, this week's overseas documentary in the Your Place or Mine slot (R4, Sunday). This was a Canadian feature about the psychological damage done to Jewish children who escaped the Holocaust - the ones who never went into the camps, but who lost their families and identities. Again, testimony was underlined by music - wistful bits of Schumann for childhood innocence, replaced by loud thrumming for the onset of war, all overlaid by tapes of marching boots.
The real difficulty here was with the participants - Marie, a Belgian woman who had spent most of her childhood on the run, and her resentful, unloved daughter. The idea was that by getting the daughter to understand what her mother had been through, they could mend their relationship. You could see the kind of moving programme the producers hoped to get out of the encounter. Instead, we heard sniping and competitive psychobabble - the mother sounding almost triumphant as she demanded of her daughter, "Do you feel the loneliness of that child?" This stood somewhere between soap opera and plain Oprah, and there are times when neither seems quite adequate.Reuse content