TELEVISION / States of mind: John Lyttle compares factual and fictional views of security, the state and cynicism
Thursday 07 October 1993
Put so baldly, you might be forgiven for thinking that the differing political outlooks of Campbell (head-banging investigator) and Lawson (tongue-in- cheek sophisticate) would mean they would travel up vastly different garden paths. Actually, their immediate concerns had a cosy, almost parochial, familiarity: conspiracy theory, paranoia, the notion that we're always being lied to, looked at and listened in on by shadowy, unchecked forces. One of Campbell's American interviewees ritually invoked 1984 and a certain large sibling - which lacked a certain impact, given that the preceeding, de rigueur camera-hidden-in-bag footage made heavy weather of Menwith Hill's lamentable security precautions: women campaigners seemed able to wander onto the dome-dominated base at will, dart into the buildings, lift documents and skip away again.
Lawson's sense of humour was infinitely more conscious (his first, wickedly judged line was, 'This story will not appear in my memoirs') but even his most poisoned darts, like Campbell's rants, made remarkably little impact on their intended targets, despite hitting them dead-centre every time.
This is neither man's fault. Another modern state is terminal cynicism, a condition Campbell and Lawson are at pains to rail against, yet are ultimately powerless to change. Campbell exhaustively collects the evidence against Menwith Hill and its hi-tech invasions of privacy, cites the constitutional and moral laws broken, details the electronic spy network that covers Britain like a rash, and uses radio equipment to tune into the transmission gathering - your calls, my calls, everyone's calls.
The emotion one (unjustifiably) feels, however, is exasperation at the presenter's naivety, not anger at the uncontrolled institution. What, after all, did he expect?
Similarly, Lawson was able to pen a pick-and-mix insider's scenario borrowing from Dianagate, the Mellor affair, the last days of Thatcher and Michael Dobbs's House of Cards without this witch's brew ever courting disbelief or anything remotely resembling shock - sensitivity thresholds are high this decade. Indeed, even the rude picture of PM Richard Wilson crawling across the floor at No 10, apparently poised to chew the carpet, appeared less absurd and more . . . well, to be blunt, fitting.
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Husband creates spreadsheet detailing wife's 'excuses' for turning down sex
- 2 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 3 Saneie Masilela, 9, marries Helen Shabangu, 53 years his senior, for the second time
- 4 Laurie Penny: Feminist author subjected to 'vile sexist and anti-Semitic abuse' over her book
- 5 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley star in trailer for new Alan Turing film The Imitation Game
Endeavour series 2, episode 4 - TV review: A gripping, sordid, startling and magnificent end to the series
It looks like Krusty the Clown is the major Simpsons character death
Russell T Davies wants your 'sexcapades' for new web series Tofu about modern sex culture
Star Wars 7: Plot details 'leak', with sequel's opening and premise revealed
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash analysis: A tragic lesson of advanced weapons in the wrong hands
- < Previous
- Next >