Last Night's Television: Kimberley: Young Mum Ten Years On
Who Killed The Honey Bee?, BBC4

Mother's courage goes a long way

Ten years ago, Daisy Asquith made a documentary, Fifteen, telling the story of a strong-minded young girl called Kimberley, who wished that her mum would worry less, and that her boyfriend would call, and that she hadn't been raped by a 21 year old when she was 12.

Kimberley could be breathtakingly single-minded, and enormously, exasperatingly, stubborn. But she was charming nonetheless: feisty in an unaffected way, laughing at her "crumby" neighbourhood and joking about her bad taste in boys. Ten months after the programme ended, she fell pregnant, and nine months later, was a struggling mother in an abusive relationship. So goes the vicious cycle.

We don't see what happened next, but we hear Kimberley's account. With domestic violence a feature, her son was soon taken away. It's impossible not to feel sympathy, which is not to say that the authorities did the wrong thing. By the time she's being filmed again – by Asquith, in this equally compelling follow-up Kimberley: Young Mum Ten Years On – she has had another son, Harvey, and his progress is being closely monitored. With Harvey's dad long gone, Kimberley is hoping to prove she can go it alone, though given her track record, that means jumping through an inordinate number of institutional hoops. She has to take Harvey for medicals, show her commitment to his education, and attend parenting classes. When playtime starts to get too physical, her anxiety levels shoot up; the last thing she needs is a scratched and bruised little boy who looks like he's taken a beating. It's a tall order, for anyone, particularly when they're living on a weekly income of £110. And, so, a pattern emerges: Kim is in penitence for her past, which is making her future that much more difficult.

She is, however, making impressive progress; she's entangled in another relationship, though this time her partner of choice has a fair bit to recommend him. He's a single parent, too, and his son is doing well. They go on family dates and play with the kids. Midway through filming, in the wake of a glowing school report for Harvey and strong recommendations for herself, she was let off the leash a little. Instead of weekly meetings, she would only have to attend one a month. And instead of having her name on the child protection register, she just has a final three-month surveillance period. Then, just as things are becoming really Brady bunch, bam! Calamity strikes. Kimberley's pregnant again.

Here, I confess, a little exasperation set in. Of course, it's her right to have children, but it's clearly the last thing she actually wants. "Do you want the bad news or the bad news?" she asked the camera. "It's all bad news!" She decided to keep the baby, despite the father's reluctance. As happens, that decision appeared to spread balm over a few wounds. As the show ended, Kimberley was bustling around, showing off her new daughter, though she was still struggling to let her boyfriend move in and play happy families. Depending on which decision she takes, there may be another documentary in 10 years' time.

And so from one very British struggle, to quite another, with the BBC4's Who Killed the Honey Bee?, which documented the truly startling decline of Britain's bee population. "When we think of beehives we have this cuddly Winnie the Pooh image," explains Bee Wilson, the neatly named author of The Hive. "But actually, they're more like a mausoleum." Oh, dear. In fact, this is the shape of much to come; as it turns out, we're the ones who killed the honey-bee, a third of the population died last year, and we've got a hefty price to pay for it, too: one in three bites of food are dependent on bees, since they're the ones who pollinate crops.

The mausoleums/honey hives have eventually given way to a rather more humane version. But, in their place, a dozen other hazards sprung up. Like pesticides. They're supposed to be discriminatory – in the same hopeless way smart bombs are supposed to be – but, like the smart bombs, they're actually pretty dumb. In fact, they're probably worse for the bees than the old-fashioned, spray-and-be-damned kind, as they're aimed at the seeds, and the problem has become systemic. Now when the bee pollinates a plant, it picks up a cocktail of drugs along the way. Another problem, clearly, is the way in which beekeepers loan their insects out. Most of last night's show was spent interviewing these beekeepers, whose livelihood depends on farmers renting their stock.

It does all seem absurd, the idea of an aeroplane ferrying bees from Australia to California and back. How did the simple practice of beekeeping become so convoluted? And how can it be reversed? The Government has just announced £10m worth of funding to find out the answer. Hopefully, by the time that happens we won't be living in a bee-free world.

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

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

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen