Television Review

IF I WERE a betting man, I'd wager that a betting man would be a bit insulted by the episode on gambling in Hooked (C4). The subtitle - "Britain in Pursuit of Pleasure: 1900-1975" - makes it sound like someone's specialist subject on Mastermind. But this series works on the principle that once you've heard one tale of addiction-fuelled woe, you've heard them all. Hence the mere half-hour given over to a history of throwing good money after bad.

The area has been extensively documented as drama in Cracker, in which Fitz's compulsive personality was a glamorised version of Jimmy McGovern's own fondess for gambling. In one episode, Fitz's wife made the key point largely missing here, that gambling is an addiction that materially affects all the family. There was one testimony from the wife of an addictive gambler who lost their house on the horse at the Grand National which surrendered a 20-length lead over Red Rum going into the final hurdle. They had to move in with her parents. When he lost, "he went to bed for days. That was the worst," she mused. And then she paused, and you could hear a whole life sentence in the split second of silence. "But then he still tends to do that."

The problem with this three-furlong sprint through the subject was once all the facts had been laid out, all the forms of gambling listed to which the vulnerable might be prey, there wasn't much time to investigate the root cause of addiction. One old rogue reckoned that: "it's the same anticipation of sex as it is to gambling". He then pulled the rug from under his own analogy by recalling the night he sold his girlfriend for pounds 100 in a casino so he could place a bet at the roulette table. Footballers often compare scoring to sex, but here was the man who traded the opportunity to copulate for the opportunity to bet. He had lost all his hair, and you wanted to ask him if he had gambled that away, too.

If gambling is the cruellest addiction, it is because hope is an anaesthetic that shields sufferers from the pain of delusion. A woman perfectly encapsulated the warm glow of self-deception when she was winning at the wheel. "People seemed to laugh louder around you if you were winning. It was as if the limelight had been turned on you."

Gambling was once the most popular leisure pursuit in Britain, but that was before television. From the safety of its sofa, the nation has discovered less harmful addictions, like watching programmes about sick animals. This habit has been ruthlessly fed in Pet Rescue, Pet Power, Vets in Practice, but the greatest of these is Animal Hospital (BBC1), which has returned for a 10th series. I never had a pet as a child and, trying to redress this omission as a parent, I've looked helplessly on as a series of guinea-pigs have fallen victim to the unsentimental attentions of a local cat (though I absolve the accused of the murder of our hamster). So I claim immunity to the seductions of Rolf Harris's crocked menagerie. There's also something thoroughly resistible about the little homilies in Harris's links, which he backs up with outsized hand signals for the hard (or reluctant) of hearing. "It's great to see John so happy there!" said Rolf, giving us the double thumbs-up after a cockle-warming report from a seal sanctuary. "We've all got our fingers crossed for her!" said Rolf of a budgie with its leg in a splint fashioned from cotton-bud tubing. No one had their fingers more crossed than Rolf, who wrapped his digits into a complicated bind from The Manual of Maritime Knots.

Talking of links, Horizon (BBC2) looked for the missing one between dinosaurs and birds. I can just about dredge up a Jurassic memory of Wildlife on One that once tackled a similar subject. This new film was fascinating not only for what it told you, but also because it illustrated evolutionary advances in science documentaries. On the one hand there was a much more highly developed analysis of the argument. But by concluding with a discussion of whether it would be possible to clone a dinosaur from a bird, on the other hand, it pandered to the modern taste for sensationalism.

Thomas Sutcliffe is away

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