review

"This was the climax that nobody had wanted," said the narrator of Inside Story (BBC1), talking over footage of the riots in Trafalgar Square. Squalid scenes of national disgrace, it goes without saying, but if you were the director of a documentary about football hooliganism and you hadn't really yet encountered any, there would presumably be a small, shameful part of you that would give a wild ululation of relief. Quite apart from that, the remark was inaccurate - this climax was exactly what was wanted by the hard-core hooligans for whom football is merely the occasion for a major ruck. You wondered for a moment whether the person who wrote the line had actually watched the documentary it concluded.

It wasn't the only inattentive mom-ent in the script, either. A little earlier the voice-over had concluded that "No amount of planning could have anticipated the nation's feeling of despair," a line which was directly contradicted by the policeman who next appeared: "I think it was going to be inevitable that at the end of England's participation in the tournament, something like this was going to happen," he said. Inevitable or unforeseeable? You can't really have both.

It's possible that the voice-over was a late addition intended to remedy some failures of clarity, because that sense of screws left untightened was reflected in a film which never quite managed its own artistic crowd- control, to marshal a sprawl of different subjects into some focused shape. There were interesting things here - from the surreal policing judgements made necessary by the props of some supporters (how big can a cowbell get before it qualifies as an offen- sive weapon?) to Inspector Barry Norman's cheerfully broad interpretation of English law: "You're drunk," he said to one stroppy supporter."If you breathe on me, that's an offence." But the film never quite overcame the fact that one football crowd looks broadly like another and that it rapidly becomes boring watching people watching them. "It'll be interesting to see how dispersal goes with those new steps," observed Chief Superintendent Linda Newham at one point. It might, you thought, if we had any idea what the old steps looked like and if we could actually see something other than a sea of bobbing heads.

"Eurocops 96" could also have done a little more to test the assumptions on which the police operate: "Segregation is non-existent," tutted one officer at an early Holland-Scotland match, deploring the fact that the fans were mixed together in the stands. There seemed to be no sense that this might be a solution rather than a problem - allowing fans to see each other as individuals rather than massed ranks of the enemy. That said, the hooligans' appetite for damage is unappeasable and the police are faced with an intractable paradox in containing it - in fighting hooliganism, you give hooligans precisely what they want - a sharply defined enemy against which to test their aggression.

In Northern Ireland the violence addicts are able to claim that their taste for dispensing pain is in the service of the community. Robert Wilson's film for War Cries (C4) about punishment beatings, "Baseball in Irish History", screened on Tuesday, aimed to raise a dissenting voice. It reminded us that the language of moral concern conceals a barbarous absence of justice, not a rough-hewn version of it. The people who pride themselves on beating young criminals have frequently been guilty of identical crimes themselves. It is, as one woman acutely pointed out, a demonstration of power - thuggery pure and simple. Wilson's film wasn't uniformly convincing (the sequence in which he proved that you can buy a baseball bat in Belfast even if you look a bit rough, struck you as naive rather than shocking) but it was a brave piece of journalism - these people don't take any more kindly to contradiction than they do to glue-sniffing, and they don't accept pleas in mitigation.

Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home