The weekend's viewing: The Real Thumbelina, ITV1; Young Apprentice, BBC1

 

Lovely little girl..." said Zillah Clift's mum fondly, looking at an old photograph of her daughter as a three-year-old. "And then they grow up," she added meaningfully, though in Zillah's case there wasn't a lot of up about it. Now an adult, with a husband of her own, Zillah is still only four foot two inches high, and still obliged to shop for her shoes in the toddler section. Zillah's taste runs to buzz cuts, piercings and black leather – not a look much catered for in under-fives footwear. She pretty much has a choice of pink, pink, glittery pink or pink.

Real four-year-olds seem happier with those options, and four-year-olds don't have to worry quite so much about being undersized either. In fact, one of the odd things about The Real Thumbelina (a crass title, by the way) was the way its central subjects – young girls with restricted growth – short-circuited some deeply instinctive adult reactions. The very thing we cherish in tiny children is their tininess, and that odd pang many parents get as their children grow out of infancy was here married with the deep pang you would feel if they didn't. Amelie Gledhill, now four but still wearing clothes sold for three- to six-month-olds, was as cute as a doll but just beginning to reach an age at which being doll-like would deprive. And Ollie Mitchell, six years old but still eye-to-eye with her two-year-old brother, has been trapped in dependency by a world that's built for bigger children.

Their story followed a pretty familiar template for ill-children documentaries: visits to specialists, the cruel dilemmas of parenthood, even that regular trope of such films, the trip to an American convention about the condition. It was, variously, touching and heartening. But it was Zillah's experience that really stuck with me, chiming uncomfortably with an increasing doubt over whether Ricky Gervais's Life's Too Short gives a voice to small people or simply exploits them for comic effect. Some of the things that happened to Warwick happened to Zillah here, and she laughed at them. But she did so in a rueful way and one of her misadventures – being taken for a child at a petrol station and having the pump shut down on her – had been so humiliating that she'd never tried to fill her own car again (until this film).

It's easy to imagine that scenario in Life's Too Short, and easy to imagine that Warwick Davis (who has genuine comic talent) could make it funny, but it's hard not to feel that it might cover up something we really should know about the experience. It's one thing to laugh because of an absurd misunderstanding, quite another to laugh because otherwise you might burst into tears. After another episode of Life's Too Short last week in which the main character ended up in a toilet bowl and got a cheap laugh by falling out of his car, my doubts are beginning to resolve themselves. Don't know what Zillah thinks about Life's Too Short, but her philosophical sense of humour about her circumstances helped me make up my mind.

"Nothing's funny unless it offends someone," said James in the last episode of Young Apprentice, taking a Gervais line on comic theory as he prepared a viral ad for the online game he'd devised. His ad offended me (mildly) by being completely unfunny, but it didn't inhibit James's pitch to industry professionals, which was impressively confident and polished. His chief rival, Zara, was equally assured, as she pushed the merits of a rather derivative-looking platform game. Clearly, they're both going places, though at the time of writing I don't know which of them got the nod from Sugar. My money's on Zara, if only because James made the dangerous mistake of admitting that he'd spend his potential winnings on further education.

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished

TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies

Arts and Entertainment
Australia's Eurovision contestant and former Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian

Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
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 campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable