Last Night's Viewing: Secrets of a Good Marriage with Sharon Horgan, Channel 4
Africa, BBC1

 

They spell "weird" an odd way at Channel 4. The word actually appeared as "good" in Secrets of a Good Marriage with Sharon Horgan, in which the co-creator of Pulling notionally explored the underpinnings of an enduring marriage. She would, she told us, be "nosing about in the life of six married couples to find out" the best way to keep a marriage in good shape, and she vaguely implied that these relationships would be broadly representative of the marital state.

In fact, what she (or her researchers) had actually done was to find the quirkiest unions available – the secrets they vouchsafed either being impossible to apply to your own life (have you got an identical twin on hand, with whom you can form a ménage a quatre with another pair of monozygotic siblings?) or shudderingly undesirable, as with the soupy tantric sex couple who were served up as the first course.

"We have an absolutely mind-blowing sex life," said Roland about his shagtastic marriage to Kavida. No proof was offered for this contention, but circumstantial evidence was available in the manifestly blown condition of both of their minds and the way they spent most of the time gazing into each other's eyes in a dazed fashion. They invited Sharon to sample their early-morning routine of "sexy Pilates" (she declined) and tutored her in the art of having a sexy cup of tea (which she accepted, warily). "I'm going to ask Roland to pour the essence of himself into the tea," said Kavida, before inviting Sharon to take a sip. "Shit. Hope I don't come," she said, "Imagine how embarrassing that would be." Both Roland and Kavida were on their second marriages, which suggests that this recipe for blissful togetherness doesn't always take.

Horgan was the best thing about this – undercutting and funny and prone to sly little glances at the camera just to reassure you that she thought it was all as nuts as you did. In fact, you could say that she was the only good thing about it, since the people she went to talk to were pretty predictable in their diversions from the deep rut of marital normality (apart from the identical twins, at least).

She talked to a woman called Louella who plays away from home with the permission of her loving but un-libidinous husband (offered a choice between sex or a bacon sandwich on their wedding anniversary, he opted for the sandwich) and also met Chris and Norma, an apparently happy Brighton couple despite the 32-year disparity in their ages (when Chris first approached Norma to chat her up, she thought, "He's gonna nick me handbag"). And she met Steven, who has restored contentment to his own marriage by persuading his wife that she must defer to him in everything – a "secret" he derived from his study of McDonald's nutritional guides (I'm not kidding) and the life of lions in the wild. "We are animals!" he insisted when Horgan gently pointed out that we are more than our biology. Granted in your case, Steve, but something oinkier and less agile than a lion, I think.

Ex Africa semper aliquid novi, apparently. Though you wonder how they manage it given the saturation coverage of the continent in wildlife documentary over the past 30 years. Anyway, the good news about Africa, BBC1's new six-part series, is that they're still finding sights that stun you. This is partly down to technology. As you watch the breath of a drongo condense on the morning air or thrill to a giraffe duel, you're unwittingly admiring the latest developments in lenses and distance filming. But it's also about Africa's capaciousness as a continent. "There's nowhere on earth where wildlife puts on a greater show," said David Attenborough at the start. Odd phrase, given that none of it is aimed at us. But what a show it is anyway.

twitter.com/tds153

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
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
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: 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
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness