Thomas Sutcliffe

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Television Reviews: Berkeley Square and The Tribe

The combination of a country shoot and adultery is never wise. All those loaded guns, all that highly charged emotion - and sure enough last night's Berkeley Square (BBC1 ) concluded with a man in Norfolk tweeds lying face down in the bracken. Arnold St John was now the injured husband in at least two senses, the trigger having been pulled not by him, or his faithless wife, or even his cuckolder - but by his eight-year old son Tom, who had been subjected to the sort of persistent mental cruelty which would these days result in a care order and court action. Personally I would much have preferred Tom to have swung his weapon in the direction of the loathsome Louis, a coroneted brat who thinks that putting a bloody pheasant at the bottom of the bed is a character-building jape, but I suppose the producers felt that infanticide might be taking things a bit too far in a family show.

Television Review

Richard Horton, editor of the medical journal The Lancet, appears to take the title of his publication seriously. Last night, in The Citadel (C4), he took his surgical steel to the present-day medical establishment, those august and well-upholstered bodies which notionally serve the interests of patients but which, according to Horton's cutting polemic, are actually "arrogant and largely unaccountable". And almost the first point he made was that, as bodies go, they have considerable powers of absorption when it comes to outside assault. Standing in a ceremonial parlour at the Royal College of Physicians, he recalled that the last time he had been in the room was to receive an Honorary Fellowship - a rude article about the College in The Lancet having been followed by what looked like a determined campaign to tranquillize him, which began with West End dinners and breakfast with the President, and concluded with the Fellowship. Quite why he accepted this drugged lamb-chop he didn't explain, but it doesn't seem to have stopped him barking.

Television Review

ON A BEACH, somewhere in England, sits a bright yellow Fiat Cinquecento. Peering over its chugging engine is a man with a bushy moustache. He is Robert Winston and the car is an aid to understanding. It represents the capacity of the ancient human brain - a mere half litre. Winston then slams the boot shut to reveal a bright red sports car behind him, a flattering representative for the modern human brain, which is three times larger. As a visual shorthand for cognitive ascent, this was pretty good - a strong graphic representation of an increase in power and speed. Unfortunately, I missed the next two crucial sentences in the commentary because at least half a litre of my wife's brain was noisily preoccupied in establishing precisely what marque of sports car it was.

Television Review

FOR THE last year or so, the journalist John Diamond has written a weekly piece for The Times about the experience of having throat cancer, a column which, like Ruth Picardie's pieces for The Observer about her own terminal breast cancer, has proved immensely popular with readers. There are less shocking ways of putting this ("compelling", "gripping", "deeply moving"), but "popular" doesn't blink at the mixed motives of readers when they devour such pieces. And the fact that readers aren't all pure in heart has lead some to criticise the writers who feed their appetites in the first place.

Television Review

As every child knows, if you spin for too long without stopping you get dizzy and fall over. The effect was demonstrably at work in Ulrika in Euroland (BBC2), a giddily weird programme which was the result of a collision between two rapidly whirling bodies. The first of these was Gordon Brown's press officer and the second was Ulrika Jonsson's personal manager, both of whom will have carefully weighed up the pros and cons of taking part in this "yoof" primer about European monetary union (the identifying characteristics of "yoof" in this case being acid-trip chromakey backgrounds and the occasional sequence of hip-hop editing). It looked like a programme that had been commissioned at the end of a very long lunch - one of those projects nobody quite remembers to cancel when they all sober up next day.

TV Reviews: Neville's Island and Diana: The Secrets Behind the Crash

Neville's Island (ITV), Tim Firth's adaptation of his own stage comedy, usefully supplied its own synopsis. "They make films about this don't they," says Neville brightly, after he and his three colleagues find themselves stranded during a corporate team-building exercise. "People on islands ... shipwrecked... and what happens is they gradually go back to nature and shed 20th-century values, and the power relationships change, and they tell each other dark secrets that release hidden qualities, and, in the end, there's a showdown between the one they thought was weakest and the one they thought was the leader."


As the hour-long Friends special (Channel 4) on Saturday night demonstrated, Americans don't all have a high opinion of the British. Our national characteristics, judging from this London excursion for New York's most glamorous losers, are rudeness, snobbery and churlishness, topped off with a grasping eye for the main chance.


There's something of a glut in the attack comedian field at the moment - a fact recognised in Alexei Sayle's Merry-Go-Round on Friday (BBC2), which included a sequence in which he was relaunched with a new pyramidal head ("increased room for bad language"). Unfortunately his unveiling at the aggressive bald-headed comedian's trade fair wasn't a huge success - with the "15 per cent cockier Lee Hurst retaining its stranglehold on the market".


All first episodes have to be advertisements for themselves - but rarely can the principle have been taken quite as far as with the new popular science extravaganza The Human Body (BBC1) , which has already been presented on a tsunami of hyperbole. It is, some say, the most expensive science programme the BBC has ever made, first fruit of its highly contentious production deal with the Discovery Channel. It has involved the invention of new filming techniques and has straddled the globe in search of novel locations. Usually such publicity barrages stop when it's time for the programme itself to go over the top, but not this time. After a tracking shot across what looked like an unusually representative nudist camp the advertising and incitement began all over again, with Professor Robert Winston punting what was to follow as the thrill ride of the summer season.


Lori stood in front of a post-apocalyptic map of Northern Europe reading out the long term forecast: `Ireland is prophesied to go under water. But we see that Scotland does remain and parts of Northern England too.' She looked like a weather girl who'd dropped a tab of bad acid
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