TV review: Walking Wounded: Return to the Frontline, Channel 4

Murder on the Victorian Railway, BBC2

For CJ and Phil, the US medevac crew who picked up what was left of Giles Duley after he stepped on a Taliban landmine, it was a busy day but not an unprecedented one. A triple amputee, they explained in Walking Wounded: Return to the Frontline, is "not uncommon... but it definitely ups the 'oh no' factor." And if their "oh no" reading was high, you don't really want to imagine what was going through Duley's mind, lying flat on his back on a stretcher with not a lot left below the knees of both legs and the elbow of his left arm.

Actually, you didn't have to imagine it because Siobhan Sinnerton's remarkable film began with helmet-cam footage taken during his evacuation. It showed Duley conscious and responding as the American medics battled to save him, his teeth gritted in something between agony and determination. "Am I going to live?" he asked, shortly after one of the crew-men had punched a drain through his sternum. They warned him that it might hurt, which was an unnerving thought. His legs had just been blown off. You would have thought a medical procedure would scarcely trump that.

He did live, obviously. Or at least obviously to us now, watching him return to Afghanistan to complete the photographic project that was next on his list. But it wasn't obvious to his doctors or to the girlfriend back then. She initially felt he might have preferred to have died, and it was a thought that crossed his mind too, but after 30 operations to stabilise his injuries and get the grit of Afghanistan out of his flesh, it became clear that he wouldn't. And having worked out a way to take pictures with an artificial arm, Duley was absolutely determined to head back to Kabul: "It is about getting back to where I was," he said. "It's taking that pause button off, it's getting back to life."

It wasn't just personal therapy though, because Duley's subject was Afghanistan's civilian victims, whose prospects and treatment are very different to the level of care Duley received. He was in an army hospital 14 minutes after being injured, but some of the patients he saw here had had to travel for hours in the boot of someone's car. And they faced a prospect of life without assistance from a welfare state. Cruelly, in fact, they often were the welfare state as far as their dependants were concerned. "I was hoping he would look after me in my old age," said the father of one young man, after giving permission for his son's leg to be amputated, "When he loses his leg it means my life is over." The stigma against disability is fierce – one young woman, employed by the hospital as part of a deliberate policy to offer some hope to amputees, explained that someone had asked to marry her, but her own family had refused permission because she wouldn't be a fit mother. She wasn't the only one to shed tears during this distressing and moving film – on screen and in front of it.

Murder on the Victorian Railway, a kind of real-life Ripper Street, was fascinating, detailing the investigation of a horrid murder in a first-class train compartment that sent all kinds of tremors through a Victorian public still not entirely sure what they thought about this troublingly democratic form of transport. There's nothing like a crime for cutting a biopsy slice through a society, and this did it very well, connecting wealthy banker to south London prostitute and struggling German immigrants. Filming the reconstruction's actors in modern-day London both evoked the ghosts of the past that inhabit the city's streets and made you think about their contemporary equivalents. Fifty-thousand people watched the alleged culprit hang across the road from the Old Bailey. I bet you'd beat that box office if the same attraction was offered today.

twitter.com/tds153

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tv 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
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
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 in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there