TELEVISION / Shaggy and not so shaggy human stories
There didn't look to be much good feeling in the business for Alex Campbell, who was having Elvis's quiff macramed on to his thinning scalp. His white-knuckled fingers grasped the armrest as an unsympathetic technician plyed her needle, weaving the hairy Axminster into place and dabbing on superglue here and there just to make sure. She pulled the knots tight with an odd relish, as though determined to make him pay the full price for his decision. The result was certainly secure, so much so that it looked as if it had been lacquered and nailed to his head with carpet tacks.
Documentaries like this are built on the Christmas stocking principle - bung everything in and don't worry too much if it ends up looking lumpy - and their success depends on coming up with more toys than space-filling satsumas. Some of Geoff Dunlop's 40 Minutes film did seem makeweight - the little revolving interviews with people talking about their hairstyles, for instance - but he'd also turned up some real treats.
A fascinating little excursion to Russia revealed that impoverished families are selling off their granny's hair to buy groceries - bringing the locks wrapped in newspaper to be weighed and graded, as if they were the fibrous product of a private allotment (which, in a way, I suppose they are).
Several gung-ho entrepreneurs, displaying the sort of bespoke confidence that comes straight off a cassette, planned their campaign for a baldness treatment that combined hanging upside down like a bat and attending what you might call 'hair- raising' sessions. Is it pyramid-selling, asked an off-camera voice. 'Word-of- mouth marketing', one of the businessmen replied sternly. Their chief executive appeared to have a sizeable tonsure but he insisted it was diminishing daily under the exciting new regime.
It's easy to be too dismissive of men's anxiety about hair loss - particularly if you're looking through a fringe at the time - but when it comes to a woman the distress is unproblematic, not quite yet a matter of saying, 'Honestly, you look absolutely fine as you are.' Dunlop's film ended with a moving segment about a woman whose hair had fallen out overnight. She still went to the hairdresser, lying back to have her wig shampooed and snipped and set, seeking the old primate comforts of grooming and association, and you last saw her peering into the mirror at the dome of her skull, identifying new growth with all the desperate optimism of a shipwrecked sailor seeing wisps of smoke on the horizon.
'You've been hit by a bus,' explained a policeman, bent over a bleeding man in Karachi Kops (C 4). After last week's episode, which introduced you to the hands-on methods of the local constabulary, you wondered for a moment whether this was just a suggestion for a convincing story to tell the doctor; 'I slipped going into the cells' wouldn't plausibly cover the energetic interrogation technique of these desperately overworked policeman.
The rest of the film was a bit baffling, involving a tangle of family associations and dead-end investigations, and it made you wonder why this is a series rather than a one-off documentary.
Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Malaysia issues arrest warrant for Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law after she publishes stories on leader Najib Razak's financial affairs
- 2 Porn block in India: hundreds of sexual websites banned, internet outraged
- 3 Natalia Molchanova: World's most successful free-driver is missing and feared dead after disappearing in Mediterranean
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
The Great British Bake Off, series 6, preview: The most popular show on television is back
National Geographic Traveller Photo Contest 2015 winners in pictures
US bookshop offers Go Set A Watchman refunds over false marketing as 'nice summer novel'
Sherlock season 4: Benedict Cumberbatch will be 'a lot less brattish' in Victorian special
Bollywood stars Salman Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar enter Forbes' highest paid actors list for first time
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Labour leadership race: Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister, says Ken Clarke