Last Night's TV: World's Tallest Man: Looking for Love/Channel 4
Breaking a Female Paedophile Ring/Channel 4

There's something rather uncomfortable about Channel 4's Bodyshock series. That's not really a surprise, is it? The entire raison d'etre is to point and stare. And so it is that we've had films like The 27 Inch Man, Dad's Having a Baby and – a particular favourite – the poetically titled I Am the Elephant Man. The latest instalment is this: World's Tallest Man: Looking for Love. Combine that with the word "Bodyshock" and it sounds like a recipe for disaster. So, you know, expectations on the backburner.

But guess what? It could have been worse. The title wasn't really in the slightest bit informative. Rarely is this a good thing; in this instance it was a blessing. There were no speed-dating sessions or drunken trawls round Oceana. No forced pick-up lines or awkward first dates. OK, actually there was one of those (on which more later). But, by and large, World's Tallest Man: Looking for Love wasn't quite the hideous prospect it appeared.

High praise indeed. Possibly it was Sultan who redeemed it. The so-called WTM, it would be almost impossible to render him undignified. Towering over the hordes (and, at over eight feet, he undoubtedly does tower; only 10 people in the modern world have reached his height), he produced the odd and rather satisfactory effect of making everyone else look peculiar: little gawping ants, snapping away with their puny camera phones.

He's spent most of his life hovering on the periphery. From the age of eight, said the narrator, Sultan started growing "uncontrollably". As a child, born into a small village in Turkey, he was so self-conscious that he spent most of his time indoors. The result has been a life without many close relationships. "Since I'm different," observed Sultan. "People aren't affectionate towards me."

It's all rather awful, really. It gets worse. The reason Sultan is so tall, the reason he's endured so much that's miserable is because he's ill. He has suffered – and possibly still does – from a tumour within the pituitary gland, which results in excessive levels of growth hormone being produced. It means that even now, at the grand old age of 27, he's still growing. He's getting taller, his feet bigger and his fingers longer. More seriously, his internal organs are all enlarging, too. Gigantism, it turns out, puts potentially fatal strain on the heart. Despite repeated medical procedures, the inches keep appearing. At his last check-up, seen on camera, he was found to have tumour cells lurking in his sinuses. There are treatments, but they're far from guaranteed to succeed.

It's not all doom and gloom. For all its morbid causes, Sultan's illness has allowed him to enter the Guinness World Records. This, by all accounts, appears to have brought him tremendous satisfaction. He can earn money with public appearances and leads the sort of life few of his village contemporaries enjoy, full of international travel and with a flat in Ankara. The latter was given to him by the Turkish government, though they don't seem to have given much thought to the practicalities. Aside from a single, enormous bed, almost everything in the flat is too small.

The Guinness staff lurked in the background. With every inch he grew, they chuckled gleefully, congratulating him on his new record. Despite Sultan's satisfaction, it was all a little weird. The exception came in the form of Kelly, Guinness's director of HR. Fluent in Turkish, she and Sultan seemed to have a genuine bond. She's met his family, they travel together, and she listens to his concerns about growing old alone. At 27, Sultan is a year older than the average groom in Turkey.

Ah yes: the date. Sultan's first, apparently, played out before the TV cameras. This we could have done without. There was no obvious attempt to humiliate. It just felt a little... invasive. The lady in question – pretty, articulate, softly spoken – was chosen by a friend and had, we were told, not been informed of her dining companion's height in advance. As it happens, I don't believe that for a moment – though if it's true, that's a nasty trick by the producers. In the event, the occasion looked rather nice. It's not hard to imagine Sultan doing this rather well – and winning a girl in the process.

The problem with the Cutting Edge series, from a reviewer's perspective, is that there's not that much to say. There's always a lot of information to regurgitate, often something positive to note about the direction, pace, that sort of thing. But rarely a huge amount more. This is because they're always quite good. Quite good, not amazing, definitely not about to change your life.

And so it was with Breaking a Female Paedophile Ring, which was fascinating largely because it would be impossible to make a film about Colin Blanchard and his group of female accomplices, arrested in 2009, without it being fascinating. Fascinating and horrible and upsetting.

We got to hear the tapes of the various suspects being interviewed, how they changed their stories, slowly dripping details. Interspersed were interviews with various people on the periphery: the niece of one convicted woman, the husband – can you imagine? – of another, the parents at a primary school where one of the women worked. There was a nifty trick of using a pin board, some Post-its and a piece of string to demonstrate the connections between them all. It was gripping – but how could it not be?;

Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Arts and Entertainment


These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
Arts and Entertainment
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.

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London