TELEVISION / Winds of change

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The Independent Culture
'MONEY Love' (ITV) was about money love, though, oddly enough, it took a while to work this out. At the start, we watched a Russian woman being strapped into a fairground-style see-saw device, 40 years ago. Then the voice- over chimed in: 'these images seem to capture the feel of the changes in the late twentieth century.' Not nearly as much as they captured the predicament of someone who had happened on some nice footage during a trawl through the library and was determined to wedge it in at any cost.

The opening might have been bluntly arbitrary, but 'Money Love' soon settled down and became merely inconsequential. There were documentary items on various forms of cash-lust, broken by patchy graphics. And every five seconds or so, you would skip off to some money-related film- or cartoon-clip - 10cc's 'Wall Street Shuffle' blundered on to the soundtrack, celebrating its 4,219th appearance in a documentary about wealth. As ever, it was difficult to know whether this was leading-edge, post-modern film- making or merely a way of pandering to disquieting statistics about people's viewing habits. But either way, the overall effect was more than a little irritating, as if someone had climbed on your roof, detached your aerial and was busy swinging it above their heads.

Strangely, for a programme in a series called Viewpoint 92, this was a piece without an identifiable viewpoint. We went from an item on marrying into wealth (culled mostly from American chat shows), via a report on unemployed people attempting to make it as stand-up comics, to a sales convention for firms servicing the gambling industry. You'd be hard- pressed to say exactly what the programme thought about any of these or, more importantly, what it thought it was doing running them all together.

The general drift (which had a familiar ring) seemed to be that money was the root of all evil: it gives us nasty things like stock markets, greed and the people responsible for multi-million pound herbal health product companies. But there was nothing in the programme to imply that, though money does not buy happiness (and in fact it's impossible to find a shop selling it), it has been known to make a decent job of alleviating specific unhappinesses.

At least there was an edifying story to finish on. Dick Evans was a multi-millionaire, thanks to all the snazzy computers he'd built for the military, but a man who had undergone a crisis of conscience, re-trained himself as a therapist and counsellor and devised a gradual eight-year plan to slough off his fortune to the benefit of a variety of worthy causes. He spoke eloquently about the addictive power of wealth, but the programme, as if bent on one final act of numbness, didn't understand him and closed by asking us all, in a sonorous manner, whether we were 'for the addiction or against it', as if an addiction were a straightforward matter of choice. After an hour, this was short change.

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