Robert Hanks

Robert Hanks is a freelance writer and broadcaster.

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Television Review

WHEN I hear the word "spirit-ual", I reach for my remote control, as when, in The Dome: Trouble at the Big Top (BBC2), Peter Mandelson said: "There is a spiritual dimension to our lives." Fortunately, I resisted the impulse to zap over and so heard him carry on: "And indeed, if it weren't for Christianity, we wouldn't be celebrating the millennium. I mean, we are, you know, 2000, er, you know, AD, um - no, what are we? BC? No no, AD. Oh..."

Television Review

IN FICTION, passions tend to have some sort of proportion to the circumstances that give rise to them; when they don't, we call the result "comedy". In life, though, the categories rarely function so smoothly.

Television Review

SCIENTISTS HAVEN'T, on the whole, done terribly well out film and television: you'd think that for every heroic boffin who's out there discovering a cure for cancer or just plain old pushing back the bounds of human knowledge, there are three more crackpots plotting world domination, or even the apocalypse.

Television Review: Omnibus

IN HIS NOVEL Misery, about a popular author whose "number one fan" imprisons him and cuts off his feet, Stephen King produced the best-known and scariest satire on the cult of the celebrity author. So it was ironic, and more than a little disappointing, to see him fall victim, in a different way, to the same cult in last night's Omnibus (BBC1).

Television Review: Timewatch

ONE LINE by the American epigrammatist Jenny Holzer that has always stuck in my head is: "Abuse of power should come as no surprise." It came back to me twice this weekend.

Television Review

AFFECTION, THE ordinary, day-to-day business of people liking each other, is rather a neglected phenomenon. Serious art rarely deals with it, preferring to concentrate on grander concerns (romantic love, inevitability of death, the search for meaning in an absurd universe, etc etc); and critics tend not to take a great deal of notice of the role it plays in our reactions to art.

Television Review

AFFECTION, THE ordinary, day-to-day business of people liking each other, is rather a neglected phenomenon. Serious art rarely deals with it, preferring to concentrate on grander concerns (romantic love, inevitability of death, the search for meaning in an absurd universe, etc etc); and critics tend not to take a great deal of notice of the role it plays in our reactions to art.

Television Review

JUST AS uncanny coincidences are bound to happen every so often (and shouldn't be taken as proof that the unseen hand of Providence is at work), so life is always at risk of seeming to imitate art. There is, after all, such an awful lot of life going on, and we have a strong urge to read familiar patterns into events. But does that mean that art really has an affect on the course of events?

Television Review

THE CLASSIC text of the anti-television movement is Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, which argues that by constantly submitting ourselves to the passive pleasures of television, we are destroying our capacity to think and feel.

Television Review

DRAWING A line between fiction and reality isn't always easy. According to Mark Lawson's new study of soap opera, Never Ending Stories - How Soap Cleaned Up (BBC2), there are two main accusations levelled at the genre: one is that soaps are ridiculously unrealistic (whoever has that much drama in their family?); the other that people believe they are real.
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