Last Night's TV: This World: Stolen Brides, BBC2
Cutting Edge: Four Sons versus Four Daughters, Channel 4
Ugly Betty, E4

Two wars in 20 years, widespread violence, the competing mores of tribal society, Islamic law and secularist Russia all collide to make present-day Chechnya a special kind of hell. Stolen Brides, a stunning report from the BBC journalist Lucy Ash, investigates the tradition in the former Soviet republic of men kidnapping women and forcing them into marriage. This isn't anomalous – in a population of barely over a million people, at least one person a week mysteriously disappears. Some of them end up dead; many end up betrothed to a stranger.

The programme was structured around the marriage of Bogdan Khazhiev, an aspiring businessman, to "Zulikhan", a young student in Grozny. Bogdan took a shine to Zulikhan, asked her if she wanted to get married; she said she wanted to wait. Ultimately, she had little choice. Bogdan's cousin Sultan bundled her, screaming, into the back of a car. Two days later, when his family approached hers for a blessing, mediated by a mullah who had stolen his own wife while he was married to someone else, her family were reluctant to give it. After deliberating, they agreed; but only because the two families were distantly related. Zulikhan had no say in the matter. At the wedding, Ash tried to interview guests about their thoughts regarding the kidnapping. A man in a sheepskin hat shifted uncomfortably. "Let's not talk about politics," he pleaded. "Let's talk about our Kazakh friends, let's toast the newlyweds. This is a party after all." "It's the law of our grandfathers," added Sultan. "We have to respect our Chechen traditions."

One of the most disturbing scenes in this brave documentary – remembering that Anna Politkovskaya was killed just four years ago – involved the bridal procession as it approached the village where the wedding was scheduled to take place. Ash watched 10-year-old boys speeding in cars, large numbers of weapons fired into the air; the feeling of lawlessness was tangible. More shocking still, at another point the reporter interviewed Natalia Estemirova, a leading human-rights activist. At some point after the meeting, Estemirova was abducted by masked men on her way to work. The same day her bullet-ridden body was found in a ditch. No one has been brought to justice for the crime; most Chechens believe it will never be properly investigated.

It is easy to sympathise with Zulikhan. Her face was a distorted rictus, somewhere between pleasure and pain, for much of her "happy day". But Bogdan was equally confused. Ash postulates that the violence such men experience at the hands of Russia, and the continuing disenfranchisement that they experience under local leadership operating in the Kremlin's pocket, means that kidnapping women is a means of regaining control. It's an interesting theory, and further hammers home how Ash's report is taken from journalism's top drawer. The married couple now live in Kazakhstan. On the whole, they seem happy, at least to be out of Chechnya. Ash later questioned Bogdan about moving back to Chechnya. His father told her of plans to get his son a quiet government posting in Grozny. Bogdan did not seem keen. Going there to find – and steal – a wife was one thing. Living there full time quite another. "Everything is in the hands of God of course," he told her. "But perhaps I'll wait a bit."

Meanwhile, the "Cutting Edge" film Four Sons versus Four Daughters painted a more wholesome portrait of family life. Two sets of parents – a couple with four sons, and two people with four daughters – swapped places for the weekend to try to discover whether it changed their lives. For many women, having girls to share your interests is something of a dream (I'm avoiding a minefield of stereotypes here). Men who have an interest in football might equally want their children to join in the fun. That was the case here. John, who runs a haulage-truck business, went from playing dress-up with his daughters to driving lessons. Meanwhile, Steve was bored by ballet but his wife enjoyed playing with ponies. It was quite moving, really, as the father and mother normally overwhelmed by the opposite sex rediscovered old memories. These included John going go-karting and talking about cars and Karen getting into shopping. Their opposite numbers faded into the background, somewhat.

Lastly, Ugly Betty is back for another series. I find it slightly paradoxical that Betty, now an associate features editor at fashion magazine Mode, a loose approximation of Vogue, is considered to be unfashionable, given that in any normal setting her geek-chic image would undoubtedly make her the most à la mode person in the room. Still, in this episode she bravely contended with former squeeze, Matt, who is now her boss, pitched and regained control of a piece on insect jewellery, and greeted Daniel, who'd been away in Tibet. Justin, her cousin, has to deal with bullies at high school who don't like his Gucci shirt. The stand-out performance is, as always, from Michael Urie, as bitchy Marc St James, the evil Wilhemina's personal assistant.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

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.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas