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.
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