TELEVISION REVIEW / Wednesday: popped over to Pol Pot's for a chat

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The Independent Culture
ON FRONTLINE (C4), the journalist Mary Kay Magistad was in Cambodia looking for Pol Pot who is missing, presumed evil. Her programme had a number of objectives: to build up a picture of the early days, before, as it were, Cambodia went to Pot; to trace this terrible man's continuing influence on the activities of the Khmer Rouge (3 million citizens killed so far, and they're still at it); to wonder how you get to be quite as terrible as Pol Pot; and perhaps to track the man down and go face to face.

How do you get an interview with Pol Pot? Apparently - and this would have stumped a lot of journalists less assiduous than Magistad - he doesn't have a press officer. ('Hi] It's Steph from the Khmer office here. Can you do Pol on Thursday over brunch? He's saying no to pictures. And he may want to arrest you afterwards.')

Magistad took a letter of introduction direct to the Khmer Rouge's high-walled headquarters (since removed) in Phnom Penh and delivered it at a small peep- hole in the gate, through which an assistant could be seen smilingly accepting the letter prior, presumably, to feeding it to a guard dog.

So, wading boldly into Cambodia's obscurer areas, Magistad canvassed opinions from as many of the former dictator's relations as she could find - a kind of poll of Pols. Frustratingly, the more obscure the research became, the less was revealed, which lent the report some unplanned comedy. One old student pal seemed to go on for quite a long time about the crazy days when Pol was a gag- cracking, fun-loving, Rag Week kind of a guy and about the hell the pair of them used to raise before quietly confessing, 'I only used to meet him about once

a year.'

Keeping a straight face, Magistad moved further afield. Was he being sheltered in Bangkok? 'He might be here some time ago,' said a Thai official, confusingly. Then he added: 'We don't like them (the Khmer Rouge) and we do not like you for this accusation.' An old- school Thai, obviously. Pol Pot never did turn up, but Magistad had done all the groundwork. With luck, someone else will go forward from here, carry on the search and finally find him, preferably at the bottom of a bog.

Oddballs (ITV) is a kind of sporting You've Been Framed - cock-ups, gaffes, on-screen disasters picked out of the files. They could just screen any Tottenham Hotspur game from last season, but instead the researchers dig out sundry bits of rugby slapstick and any moment in which a major tennis pro serves directly into a line judge's testicles. Eamonn Holmes presents in a blindingly obvious red jacket and offers a similar line in puns: 'Now that's what I call going flat out for victory' etc.

There's also, in the guest slots, a chance for sports people to be deliberately rather than inadvertently funny, in which, unfortunately, they are generally less successful. Holmes brought on the tennis player Henri Leconte - 'the court jester'. 'Players take it far too seriously these days,' said Leconte, who, according to the ATP Tour 1994 Player Guide, hasn't won a major tournament since 1988. Tacky as a sunstrip in a Cortina - it may not surprise you to learn that this programme is made by Carlton.

Loudon and Co (BBC 2) offers live pop music presented by Loudon Wainwright and follows unashamedly in the tradition of the splendid Later with Jools Holland, further proving that pop musicians are the best people to present pop musicians. Wainwright was delighted to welcome Daryl Hall, if only on the grounds that he has 'the best hair in rock'. This is what we want.

Thomas Sutcliffe is away