Last Night's TV: Marchlands/ITV1
Louis Theroux: the Ultra Zionists/BBC2
Abraham Lincoln: Saint or Sinner?/BBC4

Nisha and Mark have just moved into their new house. A big-city lawyer, she's having difficulty settling in. It's all a bit eerie: no noise, no people. But it's not just that; there's something else going on too. When she starts stripping wallpaper, she stumbles across an old mural on the walls. "Alice in the Woods," it says. Midway through uncovering it, the ladder she's standing on gives way, sending her flying.

There's something going on with Mark, too. He grew up near Marchlands but gets all funny when he's asked about it. What's he got to hide, eh? Nisha catches him signing to a local lady. Who knew he could do that?

Flash back 20 years and things are no less normal. Alex Kingston seems to be living at Marchlands now (that's the house). Where's her stethoscope? She's got a daughter, instead: Amy. Amy keeps complaining that her imaginary friend is keeping her awake at night. She won't let her sleep and she does naughty things like flood the bathroom. Her name's Alice, she insists, and she lives there.

It's not subtle, this Marchlands, but I think I quite like it. There was another decade, and another family: the Bowens, the place's 1960s residents. They keep talking about Alice, too. Can you guess why? She was their daughter, and now she's dead. She drowned one day in mysterious circumstances. Her mother, Ruth, is hounded by guilt and her father can't look at her mother without seeing his daughter.

And so we flitted between each decade, the contemporary couple settling into village life, the Eighties parents trying to reason with their daughter and the original inhabitants gnawing away at their own sanity. It was never very hard to see what was coming next, and it was more than a little silly, but Marchlands was fun. Fun in a guilty, implausible sort of way. It helps that the performances were so strong: Jodie Whittaker as the tense, grieving Ruth, Shelley Conn – she of Mistresses fame – as Northern lass Nisha. Judging from the trailer for next week, things only get weirder from here, but, based on last night's evidence, I want to be there to watch.

Louis Theroux might be just what the Middle East needs. In The Ultra Zionists, the gangly investigator took his brand of quiet, schoolboyish questioning to some of the least quiet, schoolboyish people on the planet.

We all know about the West Bank. We hear about it all the time. But we don't – or at least I certainly didn't – know very much about what life is actually like there. Conflict-ridden, sure. Hostile, yes. But also profoundly, profoundly weird. As Theroux followed a series of settlers around, we saw just how up close and personal things can get. Defiant in their divine right to what is legally not their land, whole families live day in day out blocking out the taunts, the loathing, the rage of their neighbours. In one town, residents routinely dump their rubbish outside the local settlers' house. Verbal abuse is constant. Why do they do this? Why not just return to Israel and live peacefully? It's utterly, utterly baffling.

Of course, it helps that the Israeli government provides security for all these people, despite proclaiming their actions illegal. Border police and security escorts surround their homes, throwing tear gas in response to children's stones and arresting youths they consider agitators. Theroux joined a group of protestors to see how hot things can get. The answer? Very. The soldiers' accents sound exactly like the South African one. Why is that? I've always wondered.

Neither side in the conflict came across particularly well, though it was the bloody single-mindedness of the Zionists that stole the show. Almost all of them said they would stay where they were even if military support were withdrawn. "We're the only country that accepts a united Jerusalem," boasted Danny, Theroux's sometime guide. "The world's got a problem. Doesn't bother me."

Abraham Lincoln: Saint or Sinner? didn't offer us anything particularly new, but it was fascinating nonetheless. Historians have been arguing for ages over what, exactly, Lincoln was thinking when he went to war with the Southern states in an attempt to stop their secession. He definitely wasn't the Great Emancipator back then; he just didn't want slavery to spread westward. He's even quoted as saying he thought black people to be "physically different" from white ones. "I am not in favour of Negro citizenship," he insisted. At one point he even considered a policy of "recolonisation" to solve the slave problem. Which is to say, deporting the post-war slave community wholesale to Africa and the Caribbean.

Of course, it's not clear how much of this was Genuine Lincoln and how much was Politician Lincoln. It doesn't really matter. It happened – along with the hundreds of thousands of deaths that could have been prevented had he simply let the South "slip quietly away". So, obviously, he's not a saint. No one is. But when it came to the crunch, Lincoln did free the slaves – more than that, he became a symbol that future generations could use to advance arguments in favour of civil rights. And so, broadly speaking, a Good Thing.;

Arts and Entertainment Musical by Damon Albarn


Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment


film review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
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.

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test