Robert Hanks

Robert Hanks is a freelance writer and broadcaster.

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BOOKS: PAPERBACK REVIEWS - Why we ignore Camus' goalkeeping career

The Word From Paris by John Sturrock Verso pounds 15

Television Review

THERE IS a long tradition of the broadsheet press recycling the most salacious titbits they can glean from the tabloids under cover of righteous disapproval; and I don't intend to break with it now.

Television Review

STOP PRESS: football hooligans enjoy fighting, don't like black people! Workers in homes for mentally handicapped underpaid and unhappy, sometimes take frustration out on patients! Fashion industry exploits young girls!

Television Review

YOU WOULD think that the everyday business of the Los Angeles Police Department would be pretty exciting stuff: after a heavy morning beating up innocent black motorists, you entrap a pop-star in a public toilet by way of light relief, before mounting a very slow car-chase after an ex-footballer suspected of killing his wife. In fact, as it is portrayed in The Real LAPD (C5), the policeman's lot is really quite a dull one. The high points of last night's opening programme included Officer Sharon Reece putting on her face in the ladies' toilets down at the precinct, and her partner, Officer Charles Rodriguez, giving a meticulous explanation of his laundry routine: "And yes, I separate the whites from the colours. I was brought up with three older sisters and a mom, so I'm not the type that puts colours in with the... only once in a while, if I only have very little to... wash, I'll mix 'em. But I prefer not to."

Television Review

THERE'S A common misapprehension that television can't deal with complex issues, a view that the medium itself is sometimes depressingly keen to confirm. But, as at least three programmes this weekend showed, there are ways of doing the tough stuff.

Television Review

ONE HUNDRED and fifty kilometres inside the Arctic Circle, Ray Mears pulled out a banana and rapped it against a piece of wood to show how solidly it had frozen: "You could use it as a tent peg," he announced proudly. Well, thanks. Next time I'm in the far north with a crateful of bananas and find I've left the tent pegs at home, I'll be sitting pretty.

Television Review

THERE WAS an episode of Men Behaving Badly in which Tony found out that he needed glasses. Telling Gary about this, Dorothy begged him not to make fun. Gary stared at her for a moment, then said: "You must be mad." One of the strengths of the writing of Simon Nye, the man responsible for Men..., is his sense of the way that even the closest relationships can be underpinned by a little edge of nastiness (as Morrissey of the Smiths put it, we hate it when our friends become successful). Conversely, even extreme cruelty doesn't preclude friendship, affection, general warmth and humanity.

Television Review

CHARLES Fort, from whom the Fortean Times takes its name, believed that everything was connected to everything else (in honour of this insight, he always used dashes rather than full stops, believing that a full stop was either a lie, or a dash coming straight at you). Why 5 (BBC1), a science series aimed at children, rests on the same principle: every week a genial chap called Ortis (pronounced "Otis") has to make connections between five incongruous objects - this week it was a frying-pan, a nutcracker, a lump of concrete, a washing-machine and a sugar-cube.

Television Review

IN THE beginning was the word. In fact, in the beginning were lots and lots of words, all of them saying the same thing. Just as the universe consists of tiny amounts of matter floating in vast tracts of emptiness, so Universe (C4) consists of tiny particles of information adrift in endless wastes of verbiage.

Television Review

AT FIFTY, everybody has the face they deserve. I can't begin to imagine what David Jason has done to deserve his face, but at any rate, it's an uncommonly interesting one - easily the most interesting thing about All the King's Men (Sun BBC1).
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