Television Review

TELEVISION HAS made us used to accepting the evidence of our own eyes, even for things that happen thousands of miles away. But there's a danger that we will only believe in what we can see. When, as in Kosovo, television is shut out, we start to think that means nothing is happening. In Witness to Murder (C4), John Sweeney set off to find concrete evidence of Serb atrocities against Albanians.

In Albania, he heard rumours of a massacre in a Kosovo village called Little Krusha - 100 men shot down in a hay barn - and went in search of proof. He found Granny Batusha and what was left of her family: her sons' wives, her grandchildren. All the adult males, from teenage boys to old men, had been taken. Granny Batusha could provide evidence that these men had once existed, in the shape of a wedding video which showed them drinking and dancing; but nobody knew where they had gone or what had happened to them.

From there, Sweeney went in search of the only person who could prove that the massacre had taken place: a man who was said to have survived the slaughter. Sweeney found him, and heard his story - how the men of the village had been taken into Granny Batusha's barn and machine-guns had opened up on them. His story included some horrible details: a man whose arm had been severed by bullets trying to push himself up from burning straw, his hands on fire as he jumped out of a window. An old man offered more examples of pointless butchery: hiding in the hills above the village, he had seen a Serb take a scythe to a cow, chopping off one of its legs.

The edge of horror was partly dulled by Sweeney's exaggeratedly downbeat delivery, too conscious of his own dramatic effect. But he made a necessary point: proving anything about Kosovo is going to be difficult. Sweeney had a hard enough time tracking down his witnesses; what happens now if the Serbs claim, as they have many times in past weeks, that these men were saying what they were told to say, what it was in their interest to say?

We have stories, a wedding video, children crying for their fathers: enough to make it all seem a little more real, but not enough to stand it up in any court. Believing only what we see may not always be the sensible course.

The importance we place on what we can see was emphasised in The Planets (BBC2), which this week went to the Moon, thankfully avoiding any mention of small steps and giant leaps along the way. Seeing for ourselves was vital to our understanding of the Moon - until we sent cameras, and then men, there the green cheese theory was still in the running. But it's interesting, too, how what we can see has shaped this series: now that the Cold War is over, and we have access to Soviet film archives and Soviet scientists, the significance of the Soviet contribution to space exploration is being given some overdue recognition.

Indeed, the star of the series is Sergei Khrushchev, Nikita's boy, a jovial rocket scientist now based at a college in Rhode Island. You wonder if he shares his father's politics. This would, of course, make him a Rhode Island red.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory