TELEVISION / A fat lot of good

40 MINUTES (BBC 2) went to Japan to support our national team in that most British of sports - Sumo wrestling. Steve, George and Terry had already enjoyed a cushioned ride through the qualifying competition in London. Only three wrestlers were set to go on from there to represent Britain in the Tokyo finals. But only Steve, George and Terry had turned up. So the winners had been Steve, George and Terry. That's how big British Sumo is these days.

Hard to fault our boys' physique, though. Basically, there appeared to be two ways to develop as a Sumo wrestler. Either you adopt the Japanese method, disciplining both the mind and the body by means of traditional Oriental arts, developed and refined over thousands of years. Or you follow Terry, and eat a lot of fried eggs. The programme indicated that, as for all athletes, diet was the key consideration: for Terry, the consideration was whether to eat the bacon before the sausages or after.

The programme got its comic mileage from watching Steve, George and Terry struggle against the indignity which comes built in with Sumo. After all, real men don't wear Pampers. And real men certainly don't spend their time trying to get a significant grip on other men's Pampers. When it came to self-assertion in the face of these overwhelming odds, it was George the Geordie who had the clearest advantage.

To call him tattooed would be an understatement. Rather, at some point in his life, he seems to have decided to get an entire copy of the Dandy reproduced on his torso and arms. This kind of thing goes down fine around Newcastle, but the only people wearing wrap-around tattoos in Tokyo are gangsters, which meant that George was both frightening the tournament audiences and also finding it difficult to get served in the local bars.

That last detail took on greater significance as the competition wore on. Just before the team was ignominiously carted out of the ring by Australia, Syd the coach was advocating 'shock tactics'. Steve told George, 'Just for one day, be Mr Nasty.' Terry thought he'd sink a bit of sake beforehand, just to loosen up, but on the morning of the bout, he was still queasy after the sake he had sunk the night before. Too hungover to get drunk, Terry was clearly, by now, some way outside Olympic guidelines on pre-match preparation. The message was, for British Sumo you need a strong stomach. Certainly to watch it.

Something like the principle of Sumo informs Coltrane in a Cadillac (ITV), in which two large objects are forced together - in this case, Robbie Coltrane and a big car. But the result is more pleasant to watch. Last night, Coltrane's trans-American journey breezed across Utah, Colorado and Kansas. All the while, Coltrane told jokes and pulled off a trick rarely seen on television - making his reservations felt while keeping an open mind.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
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.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie