Last Night's TV - True Stories: Mugabe and the White African, More 4; The Naked Office, Virgin1

Nothing's in black and white here

Not a man hugely worried about his international reputation, Robert Mugabe. Virtually everything he's done in office would tell you that, but just in case there were any viewers out there in two minds about his indifference to world opinion, the makers of
True Stories: Mugabe and the White African began with a little clip from one of his more revealing speeches. "Justice for his people... Sovereignty for his people," intoned that familiar voice. "If that is Hitler, right? Then let me be a Hitler tenfold." If Mugabe is Hitler, though, what does that make Zimbabwe's embattled white farmers? There is one obvious answer and you were nudged towards it about halfway through Andrew Thompson and Lucy Bailey's disturbing film as the camera briefly focused on a headline on an opposition Zimbabwean newspaper: "We Are Like Jews During the Nazi Era", it read.

Well... yes. I can see that it must look like that. Blamed for all the country's failings, subject to random attacks by gangs of thugs who know that the local police will turn a blind eye, likely to have their property confiscated without compensation. There are no shortage of parallels. You might want to point out, though, that the comparison would only be exact if the Jews had, prior to Hitler's arrival, run a regime in which virtually every German was a second-class citizen. Mugabe's rhetoric of land reclamation is undoubtedly vicious and dishonest. It undoubtedly disguises brutality and theft as national justice. But it's set in a context of past white injustice that can't simply be ignored. That was a "but" that Mugabe and the White African was not much concerned with. We learned that it was as long ago as 1974 that Mike Campbell arrived on Mount Carmel Farm, but not that in that same year a Rhodesian election was held under conditions that made it impossible for the black majority to play any real part in how their country was run.

It's a pity that those elements of the past weren't acknowledged because they wouldn't have weakened the story that Thompson and Bailey had to tell or, I think, diminished our sympathy for the people at its centre – Campbell and his son-in-law, Ben Freeth, whose courage in the face of state intimidation was astonishing and admirable. Determined to fight against threatened confiscation within the law of the land, they had taken their case to an international court in Namibia, and appeared to have a touching faith in its ability to inhibit Mugabe's thugs. As they waited through countless postponements and delays for the final verdict, they, and their black workers, had to endure constant harassment. The man who'd been promised their farm, son of a Zanu PF minister, turned up to harangue them in person, insisting that there was no place for whites in Zimbabwe and that the land would be "redistributed to the black poor majority". In fact, as the lawyers' research had proved, the land invariably goes to party loyalists and Mugabe cronies. And then, when it became clear that they wouldn't back down, both the men and Campbell's elderly wife were abducted and tortured. "The fact that they've come out and hammered us has made us more determined to continue with the case," said Freeth, his swollen eyes the colour of a ripe aubergine. Their courage and resilience was finally rewarded in the Namibian courtroom with a ruling that implicitly overturned many other farm seizures. It was not, sadly, rewarded in Zimbabwe, where their farm was burned to the ground last year while the family was out at church.

Far more trivial acts of courage were called for in The Naked Office, in which Virgin1 bafflingly attempts to extend an idea that only just managed to sustain a one-off pilot into an entire six-part series. The notion is that getting your kit off in the workplace can be an empowering tool of management. In the pilot, the business guru who was peddling this fatuous but telegenic idea was called David Taylor ("Britain's leading big-business psychologist"), but he seemed to have decided that he didn't want too close an association with dangling executive bits, so someone called Seven Suphi ("top high-performance coach and behavioural change specialist") took over the task of spouting razor-commercial psychobabble: "I help people be the best that they can be," she said, "If these people can get naked in front of each other as a group, what can't they do in the future?"

Look each other in the face again, perhaps? Last night's test case was an organic vegetables box scheme in Wigan, where a certain amount of metaphorical dick-measuring on the shop floor was impeding expansion. As in the original pilot, the team first had to perform a diagnostic challenge – in this case, jointly lowering a bamboo stick to the floor without dropping it. A manager with any nous would have spotted at once that this task could readily be delegated to one person, while the rest could do something a bit more useful. But naturally, having signed up for the scheme, everybody present took it with great earnestness, waffling on about how they got down to basics and stripped away the superficial barriers and grew in confidence and so forth, even though most of them finally opted to keep their underwear on or coyly hide their man bags behind a strategically placed man bag. I think a more accurate way of summing it up would be to say that it successfully got all the bollocks out in the open.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
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.

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent