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.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones