Last Night's Television - Born To Be Different: Turning Nine, Channel 4;
Mad Men, BBC4

Lives less ordinary

As far as I'm aware Baby P, the Haringey child who was effectively tortured to death, didn't have what we conventionally describe as birth defects. In a different sense, of course, he had one fatal one. He was born into a sick parody of parenthood that ultimately killed him, after enduring physical and mental torments. Watching
Born to Be Different: Turning Nine, Channel 4's account of what it is like to grow up disabled, it occurred that although all the children here carry burdens that run-of-the-mill children do not, they have at least been spared Baby P's birth defect. They have parents who are fiercely loving and protective, to such a degree that there were moments when you were almost tempted to argue they had been born privileged.

It's a painful kind of love, of course, likely to drive a sharp spike back into the person who feels it. "You can never guarantee you're doing the right thing," said Zoe's mother fretfully, a universal parental anxiety but one that must bear with peculiar intensity on a parent who has to decide whether to submit her daughter to painful corrective surgery. Zoe was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that has left her unable to bend her arms, and, now she's reached her ninth year, her resistance to further surgery is beginning to melt. The trouble is that it's an unpredictable procedure and, children being what they are, Zoe's keenness to have the operation evaporates as she enters pre-op, leaving her mother to sit out the long hours of the operation with the memory of Zoe's frightened sobs in her ears.

For other parents, the dilemma still has to be faced. Hamish, who has achondroplasia, is now old enough to have absorbed the fact of his difference. "Now he doesn't ask about being a tall or short person," his father explained, "He asks about being a tall or short dwarf." The difference between the two possibly coming down to a drawn-out operation that will lengthen Hamish's legs, by repeatedly breaking them and cranking apart the gap. There was a melancholy sequence in which Hamish went to the airport to meet Ben, who'd already had this operation, and you could see his face fall as a very small man walked into the arrivals hall. He'd been hoping to see someone as tall as his dad, I think, and he couldn't conceal his disappointment.

I'm not sure that a film like this can entirely do justice to the hardships these parents endure. It's not likely, for example, to catch them snappy or exasperated or cross, and then enduring the guilt that follows. It can't easily acknowledge the admissible thoughts that must occasionally cross their minds, the if-onlys that are the flipside to the stoical, just-get-on-with-it attitude that is their default mode. But it does movingly portray the uncertainties of this life. Nathan's parents, initially determined to have him educated in mainstream schools despite his Down's syndrome, have now changed their mind, persuaded that his own sense of his distinction from other children might be making things harder for him. "You can never guarantee you're doing the right thing," in other words, only that you're doing it for the best motives. The film ended before we could find out whether Zoe will finally be able to bend her arm at the elbow or whether Emily – who was born with spina bifida, which left her doubly incontinent – will achieve her poignantly modest dream of being able to "wear knickers like my friends". But since the film-makers, like the parents, are in it for the long haul, we won't have to wait too long before we do.

The last episode of Mad Men ended with the vague intimation that Don might be about to do a Reggie Perrin, but this week he was back in the office, just in time for the Cuban Missile Crisis and the season finale. Don and Betty have been conducting their own Cold War for quite a while now, but the threat of imminent nuclear extinction seems to have persuaded them towards détente, with the episode closing on a hopeful hand clasp. The jitteriness of mood had also persuaded Pete to declare his love to Peggy, who repaid this confession by revealing that she'd had his baby and given it away. Unless I was mistaken, Pete was later glimpsed in his office pensively cradling a hunting rifle – just in case Mr Khrushchev didn't do it for him – but we're going to have to wait for season three to hear whether a shot rings out.

Just in case any one over-reacted after watching last week's Desperately Hungry Housewives – about bulimia and anorexia in older women – we were back to default mode this week with two programmes, Claire Richards: My Big Fat Wedding and Fix My Fat Head, which obsessed over weight loss. No wonder, frankly, that some women's minds eventually turn to self-starvation.

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
music
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

ebooks
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
News
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
people
News
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

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

Oscars
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
music
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
film
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

Film

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
architecture
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.

    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