Robert Hanks

Robert Hanks is a freelance writer and broadcaster.

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Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms


Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms by Stephen Jay Gould, Vintage £7.99

Television Review

"WE BEGIN tonight," Juliet Morris announced, "with a story about people who claim they can picture what others are seeing without actually being anywhere near them. In fact, they could be thousands of miles apart... I know some of you may find the whole concept unlikely."

Robert Hanks' Television Review

"`MERREDITH SAID it was better to bear things than to be a sneak.' The captain's stern look relaxed gradually into a smile. `So Merredith told you that, did he? Well, you can tell Merredith from me that he's a brick; and as for you, you're a brave fellow. I shan't ask you again, for I think I know who did it; but I'll tell you what - I shan't forget you. You're the right sort, and I wish all new boys were the same.' " - from Frank's First Term by Harold Avery

Television Review

MARK WAS with Cherry for 18 months before he felt able to tell her he loved her. That happened one night after they had made love. He told the camera that this was the last night they spent together: soon after, Cherry got sick and died. This is a sad story: does it make it any less sad that Cherry was a pony?

Television Review

ILLUMINATION COMES and goes in unexpected ways in Eureka Street (BBC2). When Jake, the hard-man narrator, comes home from a tough day repossessing household goods in north Belfast darkness wafts in from the edges of his flat: he opens the door to let the cat in, and light bursts over him. To mark the 30th birthday of Chuckie, his lumpish best friend, a barmaid balances a candle on the head of his pint of Guinness - it sputters and sinks as he broods over the passing of youth. Jake sleeps with the same barmaid, and her fiance literally punches his lights out. Eager to con a million quid out of the Ulster Development Board, Chuckie is momentarily stumped by their demand for a business plan, until light explodes inside his attache case. And radiance seems to flow around Max, the beautiful American woman who unexpectedly falls for Chuckie's "teddy bear" charms.

Robert Hanks' Television Review

YOU CAN tell from miles away when a politician has started talking about family values: just keep an eye out for the vultures circling overhead. They must have been licking their lips back in 1990 when Margaret Thatcher dreamed up the Child Support Agency. As the Conservative government saw it, making errant fathers pay for the upkeep of their offspring was a marvellous way of reinforcing family values, and if the Treasury could make a few bob at the same time - well, why not?

Television Review

THERE ARE two basic categories of history. On the one hand, there is the history that everyone can remember. This sort is typified by Let Them Eat Cake (BBC1), a so-so new vehicle for French and Saunders set around the time of French Revolution. This was apparently cobbled together from a variety of sources: a half-remembered Blue Peter feature on Marie-Antoinette; the first 25 minutes of Dangerous Liaisons; and Carry On, Don't Lose Your Head. In Peter Learmouth's script, Versailles is populated by thick aristos with ludicrously high coiffures and correspondingly low morals, and their sly-boots servants. The humour relies heavily on blunt double entendres (big laughs when aristo Saunders' husband is alluded to as "the old comte"), but there are also numerous references to goitre and "the pox". As in Blackadder, the past is viewed, not unreasonably, as a Third World country with appalling sanitary arrangements.

Television Review: Deadly Dragons with Steve Irwin

IT ALL comes down to shorts. When David Attenborough goes questing after exotic beasts, he wears shorts, but they look sensible and practical, proper tropical kit. When Steve Irwin goes hunting, his shorts look like something out of Just William - turn out his pockets and you'd expect to find a broken pen-knife, some string, a couple of conkers, and the odd white mouse. Irwin is the Peter Pan of herpetology, an excitable, overgrown Australian schoolboy who has made a career out of going around the world bothering reptiles who were just sitting around trying to mind their own business.

Television Review

ALAN COREN once published a collection of his writings under the title Golfing for Cats and put a swastika on the front cover, on the grounds that the most popular subjects for books were golfing, cats and the Third Reich. Much the same thinking seems to have provided the rationale for last night's Second World War documentary, Sex and the Swastika (C4). At any rate, there wasn't much internal logic apparent in the way that this feature yoked together two disparate themes.
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