Last Night's TV - Wonderland, BBC2; The Apprentice, BBC1

Pride and prejudice






Has there ever been a local tradition as commonly and guiltlessly despised as Northern Ireland's marching bands? With almost any other cherished custom a reflex of cultural deference would probably kick in. Might not be our kind of thing, we'd say, about Vanuatu tower diving or Turkish camel wrestling, but out of such stuff identity is carved. Not our business to judge. But you only have to see a marching band on screen to know that it has almost certainly been put there as an emblem of obdurate sectarian pig-headedness. Which meant that Alison Millar, director of Wonderland – The Men Who Won't Stop Marching, had a task on her hands in trying to broaden our understanding of the relatively small group of people who react to the sight with a sense of pride. That greater understanding was the mission was surely a given. Condemnation doesn't take an hour and would be redundant anyway, given the prevailing prejudice.

I'd say she succeeded in her task, even if it took a while and even if her own off-camera questions proved to be something of a liability. And her secret-weapon was a boulder-headed little boy called Jordan, born into "one of the most infamous loyalist families" in the Shankhill, the McKeags. Jordan's father, Jackie, who spent time in the Maze prison for a crime carefully unspecified here, ran a local band and seemed uncertain about exactly which traditions he should be passing on to his son. Devotion to his own band, and a defence of its rights, appeared to be mixed with a reluctance to let him take up a drum himself, something Jordan yearned to do. "I want me daddy to be really proud of me," he said, looking down over Belfast from a nearby hill, which offered a good view of the ugly security walls that still run between Protestant and Catholic areas.

It wasn't all depressing. The abusive graffiti registered an unexpected shift of public mood, with F.A.P. ("Fuck All Paramilitaries") freshly scrawled everywhere on the estate and the K.A.T. tags ("Kill All Taigs") now beginning to fade and peel. But the glimmers of light were hardly dazzling. "There they go, into the wilderness... Beirut, I'm telling you," said another band member Paul, after taking Millar on a tour of the city streets at night, haunted by young children with nothing to do. The bands, it was suggested, aren't just a fetish of embattled identity, but the only positive thing in town. And while they still march in commemoration of sectarian murderers ("a defender of the Protestant people... a true son of Ulster"), that history is beginning to fade too and become less starkly legible to a younger generation. The gable-end murals the tourists come to see are freshly painted but Jordan wasn't always sure what they were about, even when one of those commemorated was his own uncle, Stevie "Topgun" McKeag. And though Jackie took his son on a tour of the Maze towards the end of the film, he seemed happy to let some kinds of historical memory drift into amnesia. Millar concluded with a little human triumph that had nothing to do with confessional identity and everything to do with ordinary human life – Jordan's successful audition to play a snare drum in the school band, which didn't march at all.

They were making pet food in The Apprentice this week, with one team trying to buck market wisdom with a product called Everydog, aimed at that slender group of dog-lovers who think that their pets are nothing special and don't deserve any better. Tom Pellereau politely pointed out this flaw in the strategy, but was overruled by his project manager, as has happened nearly every time he's offered sharp and pertinent reservations. The big question now is whether Lord Sugar can overcome his embedded class prejudices and give Tom a chance to put his regrettable middle-class roots behind him.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
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.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk