REVIEW / Pictures of innocence and experience

PICTURES of young children have a strange power - I recall one mother of my acquaintance crooning rapturously over snapshots of her baby despite the fact that the original was only a foot away on the carpet. Perhaps it's because photographs are odourless and silent, perhaps it's because you can put them down whenever you want to, but they can exert their charm on even the most baby- weary. I shied from the first episode of Baby It's You (C4), last week, on the principle that a tortured man should not be forced to watch a film of his torturers at work. Having screwed my professional conscience to the sticking point, I find that I missed something special.

I melted after a montage of babies falling over backwards - unforgivably cute, I know, but I just couldn't help myself. They were so sweetly resigned to the supremacy of gravity, losing their tenuous hold on an upright life without any complaint. Besides, the whole programme is made with a delightfully gratuitous sense of style.

It may be a little pretentious to shoot it all in letterbox format (black bars top and bottom, a visual code for 'cinema, not just telly') but if that's the price you have to pay for such elegant compositions then it's worth paying.

In contrast to BBC 2's Babywatch, which employs camcorders to get at the raw matter of parental emotions, this is altogether more sophisticated, using a range of cinematic techniques unavailable to the average home-video maker. It is self-consciously elegant but the point- of-view camera and the technical tricks aren't just decor. They almost always aid your vision rather than interfering with it. Filming crawling babies from beneath a glass floor makes an image of comic randomness, scuttling creatures crossing at all angles, but it also shows you the inventive variety of baby locomotion; rug- level camerawork turns a staircase into a carpeted cliff, giving you a little kick of vertiginous strangeness. It isn't just the babies that make you coo with pleasure.

Inside Story (BBC 1) began with less innocent pictures of children - the paedophile pornography that first alerted the authorities to the appetites of Peter Righton, an expert in child care who used his professional reputation to gain access to young boys. The producer, Catharine Seddon, wasn't above using blue pictures herself either - throughout her detailed and disturbing account of Righton's activities you would occasionally cut to a heavily tinted close-up of a doe-eyed child, a sort of pornography of innocence, designed to arouse our

protective indignation.

It wasn't the only uneasy moment in the film. Pointing out that Righton had contributed to an academic book on paedophile relationships, an actor read out the conclusion of his chapter as follows: 'I contest the assumption that children need protection from any kind of sexual experience with an adult.' But the text was on screen and what he had actually written was: 'There is no question that children need to be protected from sexual marauders; what I contest is the assumption that children need protection from (in the sense of denial of) any kind of sexual experience with an adult, however loving, gentle, or even educative.' Still wrong, I think, but very different from the blatant abuser's charter the film-makers read out.

The film was important in reminding you, after last week's Innocence Lost, that we shouldn't mistake proper vigilance for paranoia and that conspiracies do exist, entangling the least likely offenders. It made its case soberly and carefully. It was just a pity that from time to time it forgot that what is in shortest supply in this area is clarity and common sense, not worked-up emotion and insinuation.

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
The American stand-up Tig Notaro, who performed topless this week

Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars

Arts and Entertainment

TVNetflix gets cryptic

Arts and Entertainment
Claudia Winkleman is having another week off Strictly to care for her daughter
TV
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Children in Need is the BBC's UK charity. Since 1980 it has raised over £600 million to change the lives of disabled children and young people in the UK

TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his winning novel

Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
    Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

    Look what's mushrooming now!

    Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
    Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

    Oeuf quake

    Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
    Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

    Terry Venables column

    Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
    Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin