Welcome to Lagos, BBC2
The Prisoner, ITV

An uplifting gem of a documentary from the refuse tips of Lagos contrasts with a lacklustre US remake of a British classic

While the nation (or 9.4 million of us, anyway) was glued to the Great Debate on Thursday night, a real beauty, Welcome to Lagos, was blushing unseen on BBC2.

In Nigeria's biggest city (population 16 million and rising by 600,000 a year) the film-maker Gavin Searle took his camera into the most god-forsaken, rat-infested, polymorphously revolting territory you can imagine – the vast Olusosun rubbish dump, about the size of Slough – and discovered within it a miniature model society.

The 1,000-odd inhabitants scavenge directly from the back of refuse lorries, sorting through the reeking cascade of rubbish with fearsome metal hooks. They're all experts at spotting the morsels of brass or rubber, wire or plastic that can be parlayed into a few Nigerian pennies, and you'd naturally expect them to be rivalrous thugs, forever at each other's throats. Nothing of the sort. The dump is a mini-city, with its own bars, restaurants, shops, a mosque, even a barber's shop. Sometimes a thief is caught pinching another man's meagre trove of debris, whereupon he's tied up and a bald overseer called Ericho, with the grave implacability of Solomon, decides on his fate.

Searle's restlessly nosey camera concentrated on two men. Joseph was the wily entrepreneur who negotiates a price for the scavengers' findings with the city's metal dealers. Puckish, witty and wise, he was the documentary's hero. "Our business is just like the stock market," he told the camera. "It's governed by what happens to the dollar. The only difference between us and the City guys is the suit, the tie and the fine shoes."

We met his beautiful wife Elizabeth and their sweet children, Peace and Patience, while he displayed his random collection of special trophies liberated from the dump – an electric lamp, binoculars, a teddy bear ... it was like Winnie in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days, gleefully handling her life's belongings.

The other central figure was Joseph's friend Eric, a singer, aka Vocal Slender, who works the dump to make enough money to mix his Yoruba song in a recording studio, and get some cool photos for a T-shirt. It seemed a ludicrous ambition for a man at the bottom of the food chain, but Eric was a hustler to the soles of his bare feet. When a street fracas left him accused of assault and facing a crippling compensation bill, the dump rats all chipped in to help, while Joseph threw a party for baby Patience's first birthday. The commentary by David Harewood was overly folksy ("You know what? Where you see filth, the scavengers see opportunity"), but this little hymn to human resourcefulness fairly twanged the heartstrings.

Forty-three years after the original series tantalised the nation for 17 weeks in late 1967, the American remake of The Prisoner finally hit the screens. Jim Caviezel, whose handsome fizzog was obscured by blood and matted hair when he played the lead in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, awoke in a desert to see an old man on a nearby hillside being hunted down by men with guns. Soon he found himself in The Village, where everyone has a number and any attempts to escape or do anything individual are met by the baffled enquiry: "Why would you want to do that?"

The new Village wholly lacks the sterile menace of Portmeirion in Patrick McGoohan's original; with its palm trees and beach huts, it looks like Venice Beach en fete. Ian McKellen as the riddling, omniscient Number Six – terribly English in a cream suit, blue tie and cup of tea – glides about cheerily with a boyish catamite by his side, radiating bonhomie rather than evil. Caviezel is athletic and noisily rebellious as the former secret agent but is one-dimensional where McGoohan was a moody existentialist. The flashbacks to his Manhattan life concentrate more on his affair with a foxy brunette (Hayley Atwell) than with any government secrets.

Altogether, the show is merely puzzling where once it was genuinely surreal. It features explosions where there used to be tense cat-and-mouse drama. A shame to find such a TV classic remade as some sort of hybrid of Lost and Life On Mars.

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
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.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine