Inside Television: Pushy parents are taught a lesson in Child Genius


The young prodigies of Child Genius (Channel 4, Sunday, 9pm) all have their reasons for taking part in Mensa’s annual competition. Home-schooled Jocelyn wants to measure herself against the peers she rarely meets; miniature Mozart Curtis hopes to be prime minister one day and Rubaiyat, an 11-year-old studying Maths at degree level just wants to make friends. For viewers the show’s appeal is even simpler: clever kids make compelling telly.

The child genius is a long-established media favourite who pops up as a guest on talent shows (Curtis has already been on Britain’s Got Talent twice) and local news reports, while a pushy parent hovers just out of shot. To adult audiences this precocious quality is at once adorable, comical and slightly unnerving, as captured by animated series Family Guy (BBC Three, Sunday, 10pm). One minute baby-mastermind Stewie is laughing uncontrollably at a game of peekaboo, the next he’s plotting the murder of his own mother.

Wunderkinds are a wonder to behold, but it seems many would prefer it if they stay at a beholding distance. In shows like Malcolm in The Middle and Doogie Howser, M.D, child geniuses are portrayed as lonely outcasts, who'd happily swap all their PHDs and trophies for someone to sit next to in the school cafeteria.

So while many of the parents on Child Genius keep their eyes on the prize, some seem mindful of this potential for social isolation. Rubaiyat’s dad had even bought him three books on the subject, which he dutifully studied. There followed a slightly cruel montage sequence in which we saw Rubaiyat attempting to engage bewildered children with gambits like “Did you know that 96 per cent of teenagers don’t like their faces or their bodies? It’s staggering, isn’t it.”

When does celebrating intelligence become an invitation to derision? That’s a call only the parents can make, but let the tale of Lauren Harries serve as warning. The 10-year-old James Harries, as she was then known, became famous in the late eighties, when she appeared on chat show Wogan as an antiques expert. It wasn’t so much Harries’ eye for a bargain which entertained; it was the cherubic blonde curls, the bow tie and that incredibly precocious manner. Sadly, after the media appearances dried up the Harries family fell on hard times. According to interviews Harries later gave, her financial worries were compounded by regular verbal and physical attacks from members of the public.

At least in Child Genius, the parents are required to share the limelight with their offspring. This poses interesting questions - is intelligence down to nature or nurture? Is it more important for children to be happy or successful? But most importantly it means the media’s critical glare is directed where it belongs - on the parents. Putting your daughter on the stage is one thing, Mrs Worthington, but did she really have to endure an algebra test to boot?

An honourable exit from Blick

Kudos to writer Hugo Blick who has demonstrated a principled courage that’s all too rare in television; he’s promised that the current series of his BBC Two drama The Honourable Woman will be the first and last: “We're not trying to wink and say 'Maybe there's another one'” Blick told a press conference. “It's got something profoundly engaging to say...because the conclusion it takes is final.”

In sitcom-land the two-series classics Fawlty Towers andThe Office are usually held up as models of admirable restraint. In drama a satisfying conclusion is even more important, yet it’s usual for shows to continue interminably, regardless of quality, until the audience dwindles to nothing. Great stories need a beginning, a middle and an end - so why do we settle for just the first two?


Utopia, 4oD

Channel’s 4‘s funniest, scariest and weirdest drama got into trouble this week for a plot that skated a little too close to historical fact. The plot references the assassination of real-life Tory MP, Airey Neave (played by Blackadder’s Tim McInnerny) much to the displeasure of his family. Controversy aside, this 1970s-set prequel episode is a stylish, John le Carré-esque opening to Utopia’s second series.

Royal Marines Commando School, 4oD

Fly-on-the-wall docs about “never-before-seen” corners of British life are two-a-penny, but Channel 4’s new eight-parter, Royal Marines Commando School is something special. This episode we meet the excellently named Corporal ‘Froggy’ Chauffour, who is gearing up to give his new recruits the full Full Metal Jacket treatment.

Lost Lost Family, ITV Player

Here’s your daily cry, as they say on the internet, or, in fact, all your daily cries for a month wrapped up in one hour of factual entertainment. Long Lost Family, the show that reunites estranged family members, must be responsible for at least 25 per cent of all tissues sold in Britain. Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell (himself adopted as a baby) are our impressively compassionate hosts.

Veep, Sky Go

The bad news is Armando Iannucci says he’s not planning any more episodes of The Thick of It. The good news is his stateside equivallent Veep, just keeps getting better and better. In this first episode of the new series Selina isn’t about to let a little thing like Mike’s wedding get in the way of her presidential ambitions.

Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
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.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower