Last Night's TV: Wonderland, BBC2
Summits, BBC4

There's no such thing as love at first byte

"I really put my personality into this character," said Carolyn about her Second Life avatar, a pixellated alter ego that represents her in virtual space. Judging from the avatar's appearance, Carolyn is not a shy woman, happy to showcase her imaginary DD breasts and porn-fantasy figure in sword-and-sorcery bondage gear that even Cher might denounce as immodest. It would be ungentlemanly to comment on whether this on-screen presence is better-looking than the flesh-and-blood woman who created her, but if you wanted to rendezvous with Carolyn in the real world and relied on her Second Life avatar to help you recognise her, you'd probably be waiting quite a while before you got hooked up. Still, the goth-rock babe with the rather wooden gait was attractive enough to make the crudely rendered eyes of Elliot's avatar dilate tellingly when he bumped into her in cyberspace. Elliot, incidentally, has a heavily tattooed Schwarzenegger torso and likes to stroll around with two Uzis and a sword. And when Elliot's avatar met Carolyn's avatar, it was love at first mouse-click. You could say they were made for each other.

Wonderland's film, Virtual Adultery and Cyberspace Love, began with Carolyn's melancholy husband, Lee, recalling the early clues that not all was well in his marriage. "I knew something was going on when I wasn't allowed into my own bedroom," he said, and before long Carolyn had confirmed his suspicions. "I want to do and see and experience things that I can't when I'm married to you," she told him, explaining her marathon sessions online, during which she remotely canoodled with Elliot and went off on dates to a Miami Vice-style restaurant with its own attached dolphinarium. Lee didn't much care for this and his children absolutely hated it, but Carolyn, one of those people who describe their own prevarications with a whinnying laugh that is supposed to be disarming, was obsessed and didn't care. After a while, she was spending up to 14 hours a day on the computer while all her real-world emotional connections fizzled and died.

It needn't work that way, though. "Kira", a lad-mag-cover blonde, and "Nik", an indie-rock dude, also met in Second Life. In what virtual worlders call "meatspace", Kristen and Steve, their creators, both looked as if something had gone wrong with the aspect ratio – they were considerably broader and squatter than their Second Life proxies – but the mutual attraction had survived the first face-to-face meeting and they still clicked, even without a mouse at hand. They'd even got married in Second Life, a ceremony attended by an implausibly attractive congregation of friends and, unless my eyes deceived me, a large rabbit. As the mother of the bride looked on fondly from her laptop, the couple exchanged vows, blissfully indifferent to minor problems with lip-syncing and object clipping. Things didn't go as well when Carolyn finally met Elliot, but she didn't appear to have learnt anything from the experience. "I wish I could feel connected and in love and hopeful back in my marriage again," she said sorrowfully. "If I could switch a button, that's what I would do." Congratulations on your good intentions, Carolyn, but that only works for computer-generated people.

It wasn't entirely helpful that I watched Wonderland before looking at Summits, BBC4's new series about critical moments in international diplomacy, because I couldn't help noticing something avatar-like about David Reynolds's presentation, with its mechanical hand gestures and carefully rehearsed emphases. The programme itself was pretty good, though, a detailed account of Neville Chamberlain's attempt to forestall war in Europe, which Reynolds identified as the origin of modern summitry. It's a great subject, knitting intimate psychology together with the fate of nations. Chamberlain, Reynolds argued, was driven by a desire to match the achievements of his father and brother, who both aimed at the premiership but never quite made it. And Chamberlain's dizzy sense of success after the first meetings with Hitler probably contributed to his fatal conviction that the German Chancellor could be trusted to keep his word. "Now as Prime Minister, I have only to raise a finger and the whole face of Europe is changed," he wrote to his sisters, evidence that there wasn't a monopoly on megalomania when the two men met.

Reynolds's hour-by-hour account of the negotiations was engrossing and occasionally excruciating, not because the tension rose too high but because he sometimes coloured his third-person account of the conversations with first-person histrionics, channelling Hitler and Chamberlain through the person of a bespectacled and balding Cambridge academic. He's not the first telly historian to get tempted by am-dram – Simon Schama is prone to drop into character while quoting a historical document – but it doesn't work any better for him than it does for anybody else. Hide your eyes and hum loudly through those bits, but the rest is fascinating.

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
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.

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee