Last night's viewing - Double Cross, BBC2; Bug, Sky Atlantic

 

If I say I was a tiny bit disappointed with Double Cross I don't mean to suggest that Ben MacIntyre's documentary about Operation Bodyguard, the misinformation campaign that preceded D-Day was anything less than fascinating.

Like his previous exercises in espionage history it was studded with raffish chancers and dashing military men. And, like previous programmes, it told an important story – about the ways in which deception and double-dealing helped shorten the Second World War. It's just that in earlier programmes MacIntyre was beginning to develop the notion of the stunt presenter, an on-camera presence who delivered his lines while engaged in the same hazardous activities he was actually describing. But I'm afraid the most hazardous thing he did in this programme was to ride a sit-up-and-beg bike along a country lane.

The cycling was a reconstruction of the activities of Agent Treasure, one of five British double-agents who were used to convince the German High Command that the eventual Allied invasion would take place across the Straits of Dover. And Agent Treasure was fairly typical of the twisted timber with which MI5 had to build. A Frenchwoman of Russian origins, Treasure had been recruited by the Abwehr in Paris. At the first opportunity she revealed her identity to the British and offered to turn, on condition that her beloved terrier Babs could come with her. In a wonderful display of the inflexibility of British bureaucracy, she was told Babs would have to go through quarantine in Gibraltar first. Half the world was burning but rules are rules.

I'm afraid we didn't really keep our side of the bargain with regard to Babs, who went under the wheels of a truck before being reunited with her owner, an incident that MacIntyre hinted might not have been accidental. If Babs was the victim of a wet job, though, it was a bad move. Agent Treasure was so distraught that she threatened to employ the secret code warning her German handlers that she'd been compromised. Almost as unstable as Treasure was Agent Bronx, the bisexual daughter of a South American guano magnate who gossiped her way round London nightclubs, notionally feeding back loose-lipped chatter to the Germans.

Bronx proved her worth when an Enigma intercept revealed that the Germans were about to move a Panzer division to Normandy, the last thing the Allies wanted. A pre-coded message was despatched hinting at coming action in the Bay of Biscay and the Panzer group was told to stay where they were. Naturally, given the doubled and sometimes tripled loyalties of those involved nobody could be entirely sure whether the most critical plan wouldn't be betrayed at some point, but fortunately everyone involved appeared to behave with typical British understatement. "It was quite tense" said David Astor about the possibility that the greatest seaborne assault in history might be rumbled ahead of time.

Bug, a television version of Adam Buxton's very hip BFI showcases, is a triumph of personal character above all. The elements of the programme are dead simple. He shows music videos he's found on YouTube, cueing up all the visuals from his laptop. Then he reads out a selection of the comments underneath. Essentially that's it. It's not easy to capture the delicious flavour but this might help. Buxton brightly cued up one of the self-made films which each show includes like this: "Now, the video involves a lot of real explosions... all of which were very easy and fun to set up. So why not try something similar at home?" The onscreen title read: "MORON WARNING: DON'T. OBVIOUSLY". I'm laughing typing it, but not nearly as much as when I watched.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

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

TV

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

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
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

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
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'

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

Strictly
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.

    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