Up and down the streets of shame

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The Independent Culture
"I've been 'ere two and a 'alf, free ahrs and so far I've got two and a 'alf sentences up on the screen," wailed Pauline Quirke in Jobs for the Girls (BBC1), "... I fort it'd be easy, but it's not." She was attempting to write a brief story for the Hackney Gazette about two orphan lambs and was discovering the fatal attractions of the delete button. "I think your problem is one of deadlines," said an unusually percipient sub-editor, noting that they were now several hours past delivery time.

The lamb story, accompanied by a photograph taken by Linda Robson, was the price of admission to the Guardian, where the two women were to work themselves towards covering a real news story - or at least one of those PR exercises that constitute the learner slopes of journalism. In some respects they had already been schooled by their celebrity. Being on the receiving end of so many flashbulbs herself Linda Robson had no difficulty capturing the news photographer's trick of tactical impertinence; "Johnnie. Johnnie! Show it to me, Johnnie!" she shouted at the Prime Minister, hoping to turn his head with naughty talk. Meanwhile Pauline, engaged in an in- depth probe into underpant purchases, was going through a rite of passage endured by most young journalists - returning to the office to find that your notes appear to have been scribbled in Urdu.

I've heard this series described as "unique" in on-air publicity, when it's actually just a retread of In at the Deep End, a series in which Paul Heiney exposed himself to a variety of professional humiliations. That doesn't really matter: the two guinea-pigs here are likeable (far more likeable, for my money, than they are in Birds of a Feather) and the device is a sturdy one anyway. It's unlikely ever to deliver real professional secrets (the secret in most professions being that there is no single secret) but it does include some truthful glimpses of how the machinery works. It was telling that Linda managed to get her best Downing Street shot (Douglas Hurd doing his Grandee's Goosestep) by breaking the rules - she was soon shepherded back into the photographer's holding pen by a barking policeman, but by that time she had stolen her extra angle.

Secret Lives (C4), was both fascinating and frustrating, an account of Freud's early life which was subject to its own repressions and denial. The principal authority in the programme was Jeffrey Masson, a highly controversial figure in the field of Freudian studies because of his contention that Freud suppressed his first belief that neuroses had their seat in infantile sexual abuse. According to Masson, Freud couldn't face up to the implications of this theory and effectively covered up the testimonies of his early patients, converting their real experiences into generalised fantasies. Masson, in turn, has been attacked both by the imams of Freudian orthodoxy, outraged at this implication of bad faith, and by psychoanalytical scholars, who argue that the betrayal was still greater, that Freud effectively invented the earlier accounts of sexual abuse - that he was, in effect, the father of False Memory Syndrome.

This is still volatile matter but there was little sense of recent explosions in Fisher Dilke's film, an elegant and effective piece of story-telling, which hinted at hidden secrets but was never quite explicit about its own dark wishes. Its account of the treatment of Emma Eckstein was carefully horrifying - a tale of medical torture and half-baked therapy, assisted by real footage of nasal surgery and a display of surgical instruments that would have impressed David Cronenberg. But it was unclear what we were meant to make of this evidence of Freud's human fallibility. Was it a trauma which enabled psychoanalysis or discredited it from birth? I think I need to talk to a doctor.