Robert Hanks

Robert Hanks is a freelance writer and broadcaster.

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Television Review

THE EYES, Tammy Faye Bakker declared at the beginning of The Eyes of Tammy Faye (C4), are the windows of the soul, which is why, when somebody dear to her passes on, she likes to have their glasses - she still wears her late mother's glasses from time to time. Tammy Faye's own eyes are caged in by massive false eyelashes - Tammy Faye without her lashes isn't Tammy Faye, she also tells us - and painted over with a thick impasto of mascara (L'Oreal Lash Out). So what are we supposed to make of her soul?

Television Review

BACK IN April, when Ann-Sophie Mutter was doing her Beethoven cycle on BBC2, I complained about the general inadequacy of television's coverage of classical music. But I suggested that this was inherent in the medium and something we'd have to learn to live with. However, Masterworks: Six Pieces of Britain (Sat BBC2) has proved a useful little reminder of critical fallibility. Over the last five weeks, Michael Berkeley has demonstrated that TV can be more than radio's gimmicky cousin: it can actually illuminate music in ways that radio can't.

Television Review

PAT TATE was, according to his sister-in-law, "a loveable rogue" - if he sold you a car and something went wrong with it, well, that was your look out, and Pat could get away with that attitude because he was so loveable. Looking at the pictures of him in last night's Inside Story (BBC1), you couldn't help wondering whether the fact that Pat was built like a tank may not have had some bearing on people's readiness to turn the other cheek.

Television Review

IN SIXTEENTH-CENTURY Germany, where a rather literal-minded approach to biblical teaching was all the rage, there was one anabaptist sect that took as its mission statement the line from St Matthew about how, except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (or words to that effect); and they went off into the forest and played with pine cones. Things haven't gone quite that far here, but children and childish things seem to have become awfully fashionable.

Television Review

IT'S OFTEN noted that in our modern, sanitised world we have become disconnected from the facts of life and death. For example, how many of us have ever seen a dead body? In one sense the answer is clear: very few of us; we leave corpses to the specialists. In another sense, the answer is that nearly all of us encounter death every day. As is also often noted, corpses, real and fictional, are served up by the dozen on our televisions, and we can probably look on the image of a dead body with an unconcern that our ancestors could never have mustered.

Television Review

BEING A member of the Ku Klux Klan isn't easy. As a couple of mild-mannered members pointed out to Jon Ronson in New Klan (C4), it isn't easy keeping those robes white (especially with all the flames and everything). And how do you keep that pointy bit on the hood from flopping down? And in recent years, there have been other problems to worry about: declining membership, poor public image and so on.

Television Review

IT'S NOT so long ago that religion tended to be depicted in fiction as the realm of the dogmatic and the inhumane. Scientists, by contrast, were crusading, decent people, struggling with their consciences and with the truth. These days, the position is reversed: scientists are regularly shown to be appallingly blinkered, rigid types, while the religious ones are those with the nuanced, kindly world view. Take last night's play, Wings of Angels (Sun BBC2), presented under the Horizon banner.

Television Review

LAST YEAR, there was a great deal of muttering and scratch- ing of heads when a German politician dared to suggest that this country can't tear itself away from the Second World War. Some people thought it was a damn cheek for a German to say that sort of thing when they started it in the first place; others wondered whether he wasn't right. It seems to me that to some extent he was correct - the Second World War does occupy a rather large place in the national psyche. But then, that's understandable: it was, after all, our finest hour, when everyone pulled together to give us our great national victory.

Television Review: Seeking Pleasure

WHERE OTHER countries have sociology, we get by with snobbery. Seeking Pleasure (BBC2) was described in the Radio Times, a little pompously, as "how people utilise their leisure time to define their identity"; and the first film, on wedding lists, was prefaced with a quotation from the anthropologist Margaret Mead: "To the Manus tribe of Papua New Guinea, trade is the most important thing in life. Marriage is thought of in terms of dogs' teeth, shell money, pigs and oil." For a moment it looked as if we were in for some plonking sub-academic analysis; but the fear soon died: Susanna White's film turned out to offer a far more subtle and plausible view of what a wedding-list can say - and in particular, what it says about our class.

Television Review

"BECAUSE" IS always a tricky word, but it got a little trickier than usual in last night's Secrets of the Dead (C4). David Keys, The Independent's archaeology correspondent, has spent the last four years assembling evidence for the hypothesis that a huge volcanic explosion on Krakatoa AD535 caused global climatic upheaval, with accompanying plagues and famines, and hence led to the fall of the Roman empire, the birth of a number of nation-states, the dark ages, and thence the modern world.
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