Last night's viewing - Racing with the Hamiltons: Nic in the Driving Seat, BBC1; Alex Polizzi: the Fixer, BBC2
Good news for armchair Formula One drivers. Nic Hamilton, brother of the rather more famous Lewis, consistently comes first when they play video racing games. Imagine that. Lewis cheerfully owned up to as much in Racing with the Hamiltons: Nic in the Driving Seat, recalling an occasion on which he'd spent all day beating his younger brother's lap time on a particular track, only to have him come back from school and best it within five minutes. It's the kind of thing that I'm sure has flickered through the fantasies of many callous-thumbed petrol-heads, but the next bit could only happen in meat-space. That's when the former world champion turns to you and says, "You know, you're really good at this. Why not do it for real?"
Last night's film was part of the BBC's Beyond Disability series because Nic Hamilton has cerebral palsy, a condition that put him in a wheelchair until he was a teenager. In that respect, he was here as an exemplary figure, evidence of what determination can achieve, though the film couldn't help but make you think how being exemplary and being typical can be linked together in tricky ways. When Nic talked to several other young people with cerebral palsy, listening to their stories of teasing and casual discrimination he was clearly there to inspire them with the idea that if he could win through then they could too.
On the other hand, no one could reasonably think that his own triumph over adversity was an easily repeatable model. No matter how good you are at video games, it's unlikely that anyone would finance you for a season in a saloon-car racing series, on the strength of that alone. Nic had serious disadvantages, in short, but he also had a unique short cut to overcoming them. Which isn't to undermine his personal achievement at all. You were never going to get the Hollywood denouement – as he mounted a podium, wasted champagne and got a hug from his famous brother – but his joy at coming in mid-field in the final race, after a season of crashes and disappointments, was the real thing. He'd beaten drivers with far greater experience than him, in a car that matched theirs exactly. Sometimes coming ninth can be a big win.
There's usually a quixotic element to the people who feature in Alex Polizzi: the Fixer. They aren't always literally tilting at windmills though, as they were in last night's episode of the business first-aid series. The Abels sunk their life savings into a Norfolk windmill and for quite a while now it's been returning the favour by trying to sink them. Cue Polizzi to cut through the romanticism and rub their noses in the bottom line. "Hopefully, your objectivity will be able to identify what streams they are," said Mr Abel, after Polizzi had urged upon the family the urgent necessity of concentrating on the strongest of the meagre trickles of profitability that their business delivered. What he didn't say – though she must be getting used to it by now – is that as soon as she had identified the right streams, subjectivity would make them burst into tears and say, "Never!"
They did a bit of weeping, but then they started to turn things round. And the way they did it exemplified an unexpected bit of business wisdom that Polizzi had inherited from her grandfather (the original Charles Forte). "Never look at the big picture," he advised, the idea being that it might distract you from the countless details you have to get right first. In a way, it was the secret to Nic Hamilton's success too. If he'd looked at the big picture he might never have climbed into a car in the first place. Instead, he put his head down and focused on how to adapt the pedals. Then he worked them well enough to graduate to his next hurdle.
ReviewThese heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).TV
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