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?

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk; twitter.com/aliceazania

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935