Robert Hanks

Robert Hanks is a freelance writer and broadcaster.

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Television Review

IT'S MORE than 30 years since Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura had the first interracial clinch on US television. But judging by the experience of Bill Sims, Karen Wilson and their two daughters, things haven't changed much.

Television Review

ON SUNDAY evening, the schedules featured two programmes marking the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of eastern European communism, and they both said much the same thing. It almost feels like a metaphor for capitalism - it looks like you have a choice, but doesn't necessarily feel like it.

Television Review

IN THEORY, what you think of a book should have nothing whatsoever to do with your opinion of the writer personally. In real life, the two things have a vast amount to do with one another, which is why books always carry flattering photographs of their authors and cvs emphasising the unconscionable number of way-out, dead-end jobs they have held down; and why books pages bother with interviews and author profiles.

Television Review

THERE WAS a time when the kitchen sink was a paradigm of gritty working-class realism - the kitchen sink in question would probably be overflowing with greasy water and unwashed tea-cups, an image of banal drudgery. The only kitchen sink we glimpsed in Tina Goes Shopping (C4) was splattered with blood and had a cow's head poking out of it. Clearly, something has changed, but what? The reality, or just the realism?

Television Review

NOBODY WANTS to be caught up in a disaster, but everybody wants to feel that they could have been. You must have found yourself telling people, when a bomb has gone off or a holiday plane has crashed, that you were walking down that street only a couple of weeks ago, or that you went there for a fortnight last summer. And some of the most gripping television is the stuff that cashes in on that feeling.

Robert Hanks' Television Review

KARL MARX talked about history repeating itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. But sometimes it starts out as farce and just stays that way, even if we don't notice the humour at the time. Take President Nixon's visit to Chairman Mao in February 1972, the subject of Playing the China Card (Sat C4): this weird coupling has already inspired John Adams's opera Nixon in China; but it was clear from this programme that it would make great material for a farce.

Television Review

FOR UNDERSTANDABLE reasons, we don't tend to talk a lot about the Boer War in this country. It was one of the less glorious episodes of our imperial past, notable for Britain's shabby motives, shabby tactics, and shabby treatment of civilians. The Boer War (C4) began with the assertion that the war has cast "a long shadow" over our century. That may be so in South Africa; over here, it lives on mostly in peculiar little corners of British life - in street names like Mafeking Avenue and Ladysmith Road, or the Kop at Anfield. Plenty of people have read verse by Kipling and Hardy about the pathos of English farm boys dying in the veldt, without having much idea of what they were dying for.

Television Review

THERE SEEMS to be a minor vogue at the moment for a genre you might call "Dropping 'em in it" - stranding people in inhospitable situations and letting the cameras see how they cope. Living with the Enemy (BBC2) is the most obvious instance, but there are others: Ross Kemp getting marooned in Alaska, and now The 1900 House (C4) which strands an entire family for three months in a late 19th-century terraced house in Charlton, from which all evidence of late 20th-century occupation - electricity, central heating, inside toilet - has been removed.

Television Review

THE STORY so far: on Monday night, Channel 4's Equinox suggested that a child's character is determined by its peer group. Now, Me First (BBC2) has entered the fray, arguing peer-group, schmeer-group - birth order maketh the man. This must be National Trash Psychology Week, and nobody bothered to tell me.

Television Review

LIKE SOME hotshot parach-uted in from head office to boost the regional quarterly sales figures, Casualty (Sat and Sun BBC1) hit the ground running. You'd barely opened the door before it had jammed its foot in and started to sell, sell, sell.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice