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The Independent Culture
"They make you feel very feminine," said Suzy Vitsos in Island of Dreams (C4). She was talking about Greek men and she was backed up by Dia Gousetti: "They really romance you... and it's not all bullshit." But being made to feel "feminine" is not all demestica and roses either - after marriage, if we are to believe the evidence of Malcolm Brinkworth's film, Greek men all but lose the power of speech, presumably exhausted by a monosyllabic courtship conducted in restaurant English ("I have large portion love for you"). And once domesticated - either through marriage or pregnancy - often the only conversational resource left open to their new partners is a Greek mother-in-law, to whom they are as welcome as a cigarette end in the hummus. These fearsome women served their time as daughters-in-law but now their hour has come and they are assuming their roles - an immemorial passing of the baton that, you imagine, stretches all the way back to Clytemnestra.

The most affecting of the two women depicted here was Suzy. She had abandoned family, friends and fiance to marry a Greek farmer who had trailed her continually for the fortnight of her holiday. Instead of calling the police or raking his shin with her espadrille, she fell for this rather canine courtship. "I'd found a utopia," she said as the camera stared across a brochure landscape, "I knew I was home." This was bravely said but contradicted by virtually everything that followed, not least Suzy's valorous attempt not to scream for help on camera. There had been, she conceded, a "year of crying" as she came to terms with the new limits on her freedom - no calling out to friends, no going out alone, no speaking unless spoken to. "I live with it now," she said firmly, "I know the rules." Her husband, somehow coaxed into utterance, took the view that things were fine: "Maybe she not happy 100 per cent but she not complaining - that's fair enough." Of such stuff is Greek emancipation made - you're free to be miserable as long as you don't talk about it.

If this really was utopia then it must be under new management these days. Even the couple's dream home, under construction on a beautiful hillside, concealed a large crack: a huge boulder, prised free by heavy rains, leaned against the back wall, like a cow scratching itself on a doll's house. "It's funny that you stop believing you have an opinion if nobody listens to you," said Suzy, lured into indiscretion by the heady experience of being allowed to use her mind and her mouth at the same time.

Dia was having a hard time too - enduring the unconcealed xenophobia of Nico's mother - but she didn't look like a woman who was going to give up without a damn good fight. Like Suzy, she had begun to learn the language - a step which allows you to answer back but also fatally lets you in on what the family has been saying about you. She spoke rather sweetly about the saving grace of love but it was clear, even for her, that a saving grace was vital. The makers of Island of Dreams have already established themselves as peerless demolishers of fantasy with previous series about Spain and France. This account of what can happen if Shirley Valentine doesn't have the sense to go home consolidates their reputation. It should be obligatory viewing on all charter flights to Greece.

Goodnight Sweetheart (BBC1) has become very morose, with Gary moping around between time zones. In last night's episode, Phoebe's husband Donald returned from a PoW camp, threatening to end their affair. It turned out that Donald was gay, though he hadn't admitted it to himself yet and the fact was only vouchsafed to us by a tender little speech about a friend killed in combat. "Ere, wossa matter - you a pansy eh?" he says jocularly, when Gary tries to give him a Nineties hug of sympathy. There were virtually no jokes at all, something which is all too often true of British sit- coms, but which in this case was clearly intentional.

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