Television Review

DOCUMENTARIES ARE often guilty of fomenting discord on the sly. Living with the Enemy (BBC2) makes a virtue of that anarcho-syndicalist tendency by inviting parties with zero in common to cohabit. It's television that lights the fuse and stands back, but politely tells you beforehand that it's going to. In this first film, a Conservative councillor from Somerset and a tribe of New Age travellers parked in a puddle near Brighton, sat across the table and asked each other: what on Earth is the point of you?

Dee-dee Dobel, the Conservative in question, turned out not to be just any councillor. Unlike most blue-rosette types, she still lives in a genuine manor and calls her dog Maggie, the way nostalgic Stalinists call their cats Joseph. Also, she had somehow ended up bearing the name of a Broadway showgirl; there must be a performance gene to explain her comfort on camera.

The film worked hard to talk up the differences with her hosts, juxtaposing Dee-dee's passion for the flute with one of the traveller's leering taste for dissonant electric guitar. She also had the expected qualms about hygiene. "Brushing hair in the kitchen is something I'd never do at home," she fumed. This, of course, is not an issue for the travellers, being less groomers than piercers. Zana, Dee-dee's neighbour for the week, had roughly double the usual complement of orifices in her head, and, through the home-made holes, she looped pieces of jewellery. (Her father is a vicar.)

And yet, somehow, the anticipated conflict never quite materialised. It's true that the mutual stereotyping, incomprehension and clash of values were as strong at the end of the week as at the start. Behind her back, the travellers demonised their guest as "venomous", "a bigot" and "fanatical", which is going it a bit, even for a Daily Telegraph reader, while she made no real attempt to understand their wishy-washy repugnance of bricks and mortar. But although both parties were always confiding to the camera that they weren't getting on, the camera struggled to produce any supporting evidence, apart from when Dee-dee was mischievously locked into her truck on her last morning (and I wouldn't be at all surprised if the culprit was a desperate producer).

In its own modest way, this was a remarkable film, if only because it proved that the camera's influence can be conciliatory rather than inflammatory. In one set-to Dee-dee had with a lovely man called Chris, she ended up in tears and he ended up tenderly hugging her. The steel rods of ideology keeping them a fixed distance apart had crumpled on impact.

Close up (BBC 2) followed two po-faced Russian artists on a tour of British taste in painting. The composite result of their MORI-assisted researches was a hideous blue-green lakescape, foregrounding figurines of Churchill and an ideal family. Everyone they had met on their travels hated it, apart from Norman Rosenthal, the high priest of the Royal Academy, who thrust his mug at the picture and concluded, "I think it's a good joke". And, in a slightly laboured way, so was the film itself.

Thomas Sutcliffe is away

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama


Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before