The love that dares to speak its name

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"Big bubbly brunette seeks strapping guy, 17 to 25. Living people need not apply. Will provide big black roomy car for romantic getaways." "Middle-aged male seeks one-legged partner. Other leg optional, but must be removeable." "Young male seeks long coil of wire and full-length mirror. But hurry: one of us dies each week in the UK alone."

Who knows where they publish the lonely hearts column for paraphiliacs? Wherever it is, it'll look something like this - a catalogue of fusspots' pernickety specifications. It was no trouble locating the programme made just for them. Channel 4, whose remit is to cater for minority tastes, really do think of everyone. Even so, in some circles "Beyond Love", an Equinox inquiry into the causes of paraphilia, will still have been seen as too mainstream: in this rarefied territory, there's no ple asing everyone. The small but significant minority who get their thrills from images of pigs in ra-ra skirts parachuting from bi-planes will be in a mean old sulk this morning. Where oh where, they'll ask Anne Robinson, is the programme for us?

If it's stiffs that necrophiliacs are after, you could argue that Alan Yentob has been more than generous over on BBC1. Although the programme demonstrated why most deviants are male, one of the three case studies was of a female who likes to make love to young dead men. Unlike the male deviants who voluntarily came forward for treatment, her preference was only unearthed because she was arrested on the run in a hearse with her "lover" (probably an unlucky auto-asphyxiator). Her presence was a bizarre example of tokenism in a field of study where balance is a notable absentee. "Along came this guy," she said dreamily, and it took a moment to work out that he didn't exactly come under his own steam.

Whoever else went hard done by, Wendi Murray fetishists can't complain at the moment. Several have turned themselves in for medical analysis by leading specialists, but the ones who are still out there will have heard her narrating on last week's repeat of To Kill and Kill Again (C4) about Jeffrey Dahmer, and here were her corrective tones on" Beyond Love": to voiceover and voiceover again. There must be something about compulsive, aberrant behaviour that attracts her to projects of this nature.

Both programmes were largely similar. Now and then you'd bump into the weirdo with the eccentric needs, but mostly you were route-marched through chromosomes, gene pools and maps of the brain, all the while listening to professors explaining why people get off on the things they do. As with Desmond Morris's widely vilified survey of arousal on the dance floor, there were moments when the antithesis between science and sex, intellect and instinct, thinking about it and getting down to it, caused unintentional comedy. But when the laughing's over, we can all learn something from the researchers' rigorous breakdown of trends in bondage gear.

Of course, sexual preferences are developed in childhood, and sometimes even before that: for example, there was an ultrasound of a male foetus enjoying a spot of masturbation - he probably lost his virginity before he was into maxi-plus-sized nappies. Short of bringing up a child in a bare room with no physical contact, there is no way of guaranteeing that he (or, let's be balanced here, she) will not grow up to be a keen auto-asphyxiator.

As for treatment, the programme was reticent: the only thing drugs can do is suppress all sexual urges. We never found out how, or even if, the necrophiliac was cured. The man who got off on stumps shot off his leg and so got a stump of his own, which istaking self-help about as far as it can go. You wouldn't like to be in his shoe.