Last night's television: A wake-up call for the bigots

BodyShock: the Man Who Slept for 19 Years C4 Kilroy: Behind the Tan BBC3

"I'M A hillbilly and proud of it," said Terry in BodyShock: the Man Who Slept for 19 Years. You'll get no argument from me, Terry, or Julia Harrington, either, the director of Channel 4's account of patients recovering from deep coma. She opened her film with a visual celebration of rural squalor. There was the bass boat, half-sunk in a local pond; there was a rusting car bogged in the woods; there was the battered trailer and the pick- up truck. And there, just to cap it all, was a picture of Terry and his 15-year-old bride, Sandy. The snapshot was 20 years old, but for Terry it literally could have been yesterday. After a serious car accident, he had been left in a coma for 19 years and still thought of himself as a 20-year-old. The young woman who helped to look after him was his daughter, Amber. Unable to process the fact, Terry kept trying to talk her into bed, a hillbilly tradition that Amber patiently resisted.

Curiously, there is a family just like Terry's in Clint Eastwood's new film, Million Dollar Baby. Eastwood presents them, with politically correct bigotry, as venal and stupid, reacting to the serious injury of a family member as an opportunity for a lawsuit lottery win. Angilee and Tammy, Terry's mother and sister, offered a very different picture of redneck priorities: stubbornly resistant to the doctors' insistence that Terry would never have any kind of life, and finally vindicated when he came round (and, to the experts' astonishment, started talking). Part of Harrington's film followed the family on a trip to a New York neurological hospital where doctors hoped to find out how Terry had pulled off this unprecedented reboot.

Despite its National Enquirer title, the programme was about more than Terry's story, including several other case histories of neurological damage. Easily the most poignant of these was Roy, who had been left emotionally numb by a car crash, unable to feel any strong emotion for his young son or his wife. He wasn't distressed by this, because he wasn't really distressed by anything anymore, even his own violent outbursts. His wife, in deep mourning for a man who was still alive and sitting next to her on the sofa, was insistent that her marriage vows held. "We'll just have to tackle it head-on," she said. They were perhaps not the happiest choice of words for a situation that had actually been brought about by violent frontal impact. The emotional revelation of the film was that love can do astounding things; the scientific revelation was that human anatomy is not well-adapted to sudden deceleration, since the frontal lobe tends to slide forward over a series of sharp bony ridges on the inside of the skull that rasp away the fine detail of personality. Evolution simply didn't see the car coming.

Watching Kilroy: Behind the Tan, I couldn't help wondering occasionally whether Robert Kilroy-Silk had suffered frontal-lobe damage at some time in the past. Certainly he seems to have impaired inhibitions and defective powers of empathy. Emeka Onono's delicious film followed the Orange Ego to Strasbourg, as he took up his post as an MEP for the UK Independence Party - and proceeded to destroy its chances of capitalising on electoral success in the European elections. What an appalling shower of saloon-bar bigots and petty jingoists they are - and yet, Kilroy-Silk managed to stand out as something special. His wife, Jan - a kind of Lady Macbeth of Ladywood - muttered and sulked in the background, rightly aware that her husband was not going to look good in the end result. But she could hardly accuse Onono of leaning on the scales. All he did was stick close to his subject and take advantage of a political operation so incompetent that it couldn't even do its backstabbing behind closed doors. Fantastic.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

radio
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?