This Weekend's TV: Going Underground – and over the top

7/7: The Angels Of Edgware Road, Sun Channel 4; Last Choir Standing, Sat BBC1

For David Gardner it sounded like a“big balloon popping”. Susanna Pell experienced a “gust of hot air and what felt like a plank of wood whacking me on the side of the head”, while Jackie Putnam thought it sounded like a “a firework”, and apparently had time to admire the beauty of the broken glass as it flew through the air. All of them were much closer than anybody would want to be to Mohammad Sidique Khan when he detonated his bomb on a Circle Line train just outside Edgware Road station, but that fact was going to bring them much closer to other strangers on that train than they could ever have predicted.

That was one themeof 7/7: theAngels of Edgware Road, that beneath the familiar alienation of a rush-hour Tube there lay a network of rich human contacts waiting to be activated.

The other theme was that until you encounter such a moment there’s absolutely no predicting what you will do or how the long-term consequences will pan out.

Tim Coulson was there that day,too, on the train that just happened to be passing as the bomb exploded.He initially thought the carriages had collided but, as the train filled with dust and smoke and other passengers filed away to safety, he punched out a window and followed the source of a cry for help. His first discovery was an appalling one, a man dangling through a hole blown in the floor.

Dropping beneath the carriage he discovered that the lower part of the man’s body had been severed completely. Nearby he discovered another woman, who’d been blown out of the bomb carriage and thrown against the tunnel wall. After administering very basic first aid,Coulson stayed with her until the rescuers eventually arrived nearly an hour later. Susanna Pell had moved against the grain of instinct as well, away from the light and into the mangled darkness. Or rather she’d followed the instinct to help aroused by a nearby cry. “It was just so compelling you had to respond,” she said, of the voice from the next carriage. She found a man with a badly injured leg and followed instinct again.

“I thought,‘Right, I’ll put a tourniquet on, that’s what they do in the movies’.” Also tending to one of the wounded was Jason Rennie, who’d discovered David Gardner slumped on the floor of the carriage with a leg so badly shattered that it would eventually have to be amputated. Rennie, ignoring his fear that there might be a secondary device in the wreckage, stayed to comfort him and keep him conscious. Their altruism at this moment was put into perspective by a passenger who had left, Jackie Putnam, brave now in talking openly about the nerve she’d lacked at the time, as panic and the thought of her children overrode her feelings that she should stop and help Channel Four’s film was at pains to contrast these two different reactions– of self-preservation and selflessness– and it’s no disrespect to those who distinguished themselves on that day to say that it did it in a distastefully mawkish way, using the tabloid clichés of “angels” and “heroes” without nearly enough thought about how unsatisfactory such labels are.

The explicit message of the film was that great tenderness and concern can be found all around you, when the need arises, but such descriptions suggest that kindness isn’t ordinary at all, but the stuff of miracles. Is Jackie Putnam (who now volunteers as a Red Cross instructor to assuage her sense of guilt at not having done more on the day) really less “angelic”, or did she just make a marginally different calculation about her ability to do something useful? Uncomfortably sustained shots of the “heroes” – their eyes looking directly at the camera– presented them to you as icons for reverent contemplation, rather than human beings who had behaved admirably under pressure. It was a story that deserved telling, but it deserved a much less sentimental telling than it got.

Last Choir Standing is about human concert too, in a rather more literal way, though so many of the choir members talk about the social nourishment their singing gives them that it chimed with Channel Four’s film more than once. The programme itself, unfortunately, is obedient to every cliché of the talent show genre, from the artificial pauses and feints as the judges give their verdicts, to the little vox pops in which contestants assure us how vastly this bit of Saturday-night entertainment looms in their lives.

What a relief it would be, just once, to hear someone say, “Well, we’re just having a laugh aren’t we? It would be nice to get through to the next round, but the sky isn’t going to fall if we don’t.” Fat chance. They’ll be “gutted”, “devastated”, “bitterly disappointed”. And then television will fade from their lives and they’ll remember that it’s singing in harmony that gives them pleasure, not getting the nod from a panel of judges.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Tate Modern chief Chris Dercon, who will be leaving to run a Berlin theatre company
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Tasos: 'I rarely refuse an offer to be photographed'
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Girls on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Florence Pugh and Maisie Williams star in 'The Falling'
Film
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

  • Get to the point
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.

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
    Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

    Escape from Everest base camp

    Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
    Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

    What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

    Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
    Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

    Gossip girl comes of age

    Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
    Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

    Goat cuisine

    It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
    14 best coat hooks

    Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

    Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?