Review: TV Review

One of the more jaw-dropping moments in Neighbours from Hell II consisted of a man standing in front of two bird tables; the bird table nearest to him was a standard Barratt's Home model andabout waist height - the one in the background had a certain Tyrolean dash to its architecture and also boasted an extra three feet of pole. Between them ran a garden wall, a form of boundary more volatile than the Korean DMZ, if you were to believe the accumulated evidence of this film.

On this side of it an aggrieved Englishman was putting his case: "The one at the back is Mr Neumann's", he said, "Now... unless I've seen too many war films that looks like a conning tower to me... That's the way he has been all the time. He's got to be bigger, better... He actually laughed at my little bird table". Outraged by this Teutonic affront to English moderation Mr Thorpe had conducted a sustained campaign of harrassment and racial insult which put him in court several times and eventually led to him being forcibly rehoused by the council.

The BBC and ITV would naturally never stoop to such a petty jostle of egos. Which is why the simultaneous arrival of two identical series can be nothing more than an unhappy coincidence. How dismayed they must have been at Carlton when they found that their programme had been scheduled directly opposite Neighbours at War. As it turns out the object of this television rivalry is even less dignified than Mr Neumann and Mr Thorpe's bird tables.

At least they feed birds, whereas these depressing wallows in human ignorance and spite serve little purpose but to titillate, to tickle the back of your throat with extremes of wilful stupidity. You could gawp disconsolately at the man who had knowingly moved into a cottage 70 yards from a church tower and was now insisting that the bell ringing was a satanic plot to kill him - or you could moan at the sight of the artist who believed that painting giant sunflowers on her roof had been an act of self-sacrificing generosity towards the village in which she lived.

What you couldn't do was gain much from the knowledge that one of these monsters of self-indulgence might end up living next to you. Carlton's programme ended with a rhetorical question: "How many more of us are living in fear of neighbours from hell?" The answer to which was a good many more than had been half an hour previously. The BBC having sent me a tape with only a loud hissing on the soundtrack. I am glad to say I have been spared the demoralising task of adjudicating between bad and worse.

Compass sounds like one of those Seventies regional opt-outs - a round up of news from the Norfolk region or religious programming for Devon. In fact it is a new series dealing with social policy issues - a kind of Analysis Lite. It is presented by Dr Ngaire Woods, a telegenic Oxford don whose charms have not been thought quite sufficient in themselves to carry wary viewers through the denser passages of explication.

As a result there are several sprightly youth-programme tricks during her pieces to camera, such as an instant transition from background to foreground or even, on one occasion, a point where she turns to listen to an electronic doppelganger completing her sentence. I may be alone in this but the mental exclamation "Oh look, there's two of her!" did not tighten my somewhat flaccid grip on the niceties of fiscal demography. This opening episode was an audit on the future of state pensions, which in 2030 will amount to only 9 per cent of the average working wage. The programme's more extravagant prognostications - including a vision of well-defended enclaves of Saga-brochure oldies surrounded by a ragged army of indigent OAPs - were unsettling enough to make me resolve to abandon the ways of the grasshopper.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Java Developer

    £26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity for an ...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading digital agenci...

    Recruitment Genius: Supply Chain Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Advisor

    £13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A chance to work for an extreme...

    Day In a Page

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea