Last Night's Television - Muslim Driving School, BBC2; Girl Who Cries Blood, Channel 4; The Man Who Couldn't Stop Hiccuping, BBC1

Pretty hard to swallow

What an attractive spice medical confusion is for a certain kind of documentary. Barely seconds had passed in
The Man Who Couldn't Stop Hiccuping before we learned that NHS doctors were "totally baffled" by Chris Sands's problem and the cliché was echoed in the opening moments of Girl Who Cries Blood, where we discovered (surprise, surprise) that Twinkle Dwivedi's condition "defies medical understanding". It's the very first thing that goes into the pot in one of these medical sideshows, reassurance that you're not wasting your time on any common-or-garden oddity. But, as the contrast between these two very different films showed, the spice isn't always the real thing.

Chris Sands's problem might look funny on paper, but it was anything but in real life. "It has ruined my life, pretty much," he said wearily, grabbing an opportunity to speak when he wasn't bent double by spasms or gasping for breath. Convinced that his hiccuping was connected to a chronic problem with acid reflux, Chris had submitted himself to surgery to repair a weak stomach valve, and came round from the anaesthetic to face the deeply undesirable combination of involuntary contractions of the diaphragm and a fresh abdominal wound. "I will once again be able to eat a pepperoni pizza," he said – with the wan cheeriness he'd somehow managed to hold on to – but he still wouldn't be able to do it without hiccuping.

Then Chris attracted the attention of The World's Astonishing News!, a Japanese television show, described by the voiceover here as being "well known for its love of bizarre stories" (uttered as if the moral distinction between Japanese prurience and the British was too obvious to need spelling out). As a result, he spent eight days with Mr Kageyama, a self-taught therapist who flew to Britain on his own ticket and, with the help of a Hello Kitty English-Japanese dictionary, subjected Chris to a variety of alternative therapies, each one more painful and fruitless than the last. When all else had failed, he proposed skewering Chris with a six-inch needle behind the ribcage but was insistent on the need for the patient's compliance: "Iffa he... [and here he did a little pantomime of a squealing flinch]... Sayonara!" Sensibly, Chris declined the treatment.

Dr Kondo, a Tokyo specialist who examined Chris for a follow-up episode of The World's Astonishing News!, was more helpful, identifying a peanut-sized tumour pressing on Chris's brainstem that had been missed on the British scans. Back in Britain, Chris went to see a brisk neurosurgeon who clearly didn't believe in sugar-coating his briefings: "The potential for margin of error here is zero," he said, warning Chris against the possibilities of paralysis and worse. Luckily, Chris was under a general anaesthetic when it came to the critical moment: "Hush now, please," the surgeon told his team, "this is the part of the operation where I kill him." I'm not quite sure what the producers would have done if he really had, but fortunately it was just surgical bombast and Chris made a full recovery. The past tense in the programme's title, I'm glad to say, referred to the hiccups not to Chris.

In Girl Who Cries Blood, we got the operative verb in the present tense, though by the end of this dubious raree show, the only word you could really trust in the title was "girl". An account of a Lucknow teenager, Twinkle Dwivedi, who claims that she spontaneously exudes blood from various parts of her body, the film was artfully angled so that the most obvious explanation – publicity-seeking fraud or Munchausen's syndrome by proxy – was concealed from the viewer for as long as possible. To distract us on the way, we got bits of notionally investigative padding – a section on stigmata when Twinkle went to visit the Bishop of Lucknow, a brisk summary of Ayurvedic theory and Hindu religious practice when she went on pilgrimage and, most insultingly, a beginner's guide to the blood system when she finally fetched up in front of an American haematologist ("The heart pumps this blood through an intricate network of tubes called the blood vessels"). Inspecting Twinkle's gore-smeared face and seeing that there was no blood detectable on the inside of her eyelids, Dr Buchanan tactfully confronted mother and daughter with the possibility that they'd been making the whole thing up."Many other doctors haven't believed you," he said gently, a fact that the programme-makers could easily have shared with us 40 minutes earlier, if they hadn't known full well that it would affect the takings on the gate. Naturally, both denied it, but with an oddity of manner that struck me as being almost as good as a confession.

Muslim Driving School is a Trojan horse programme, notionally just another exercise in fly-on-the-dashboard observational but actually a way of exploring the daily lives of Muslim women. You could say that it aims to give us the human face that too often is concealed behind a veil.

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