Television review

I wonder whether Talia, the prostitute who kicked off a series of confessional interviews with members of the oldest profession (Prostitute, BBC1, 10.45pm), was paid for her time. I just want to talk, Esther Rantzen would have explained, and Talia would have arched her eyebrows, heaved a sigh, and rattled out the rate card. She suggested later that she had charged pounds 75 an hour - and while I wouldn't claim any intimacy with the going market rate for this kind of thing, I couldn't help feeling that represented a pretty good deal. Perhaps it was a smokescreen for the tax- man, because Talia was articulate and beautiful and spoke four languages, the sort of attributes that should put you into the private jet bracket, rather than the clinical array of massage-parlour cubicles which were shown here.

The offer is no longer available, incidentally, in case you were thinking this represented an unusual breach of the BBC's rules on advertising: "I've closed the door on prostitution," Talia said near the beginning of the programme, though anyone hoping for a repentant Magdalene act would have been a bit disappointed. She had closed the door on prostitution and walked a few feet down the corridor to open the one marked Porn Films. In one respect her curriculum vitae was perfect for such occupations - she recalled a childhood marred by sexual abuse and maternal indifference (her mother, a strict Roman Catholic, was so fearful of the lures of vanity that she wouldn't let her daughter look in mirrors). In another respect, though, her career trajectory was rather mysterious. She had had a successful career in training air stewardesses and it was never explained why that job had ended so abruptly or why she hadn't been able to find a new position - other than the missionary one.

Something was being avoided and Rantzen didn't draw attention to the gap. Nor did she extract anything very novel from Talia. To the ancient cliches of prostitution - "heart of gold", "victim of circumstances" - we have recently learned to add several new ones - remarks about supplying a therapeutic need and being the exploiter rather than the exploited - and most of them were given an outing here. Talia insisted that prostitution had been an upward step for her, which was difficult to judge, because you didn't know exactly what she had stepped up from, but if the job was so advantageous and untroubling you couldn't help wondering why she was so adamant about putting a time limit on her own involvement.

There are times when The Force (BBC2, 9.50pm), a series filmed with the cooperation of the Thames Valley Police, looks dangerously like Operation Good Guys, Saturday night's observational spoof. Fortunately this is an authored documentary, with reporter David Rose popping up now and then to shape the footage into a more coherent theme and drive away unhelpful associations. Last night he was considering the police's role in keeping the peace - from protecting cat-farmers against enraged animal rights activists to mopping up the streets after chucking-out time. We have become inured to the latter insanity by long familiarity (with alcohol-related disturbances taking up to 70 per cent of police time, it is almost criminal that the Government continues to demonise marijuana, a drug which would be more likely to lead to outbreaks of uncontrolled giggling than ugly street brawls). But the growth of direct action politics is a new conundrum for the police, forcing them to confront indignant old ladies alongside more traditional representatives of social upheaval, such as Dreadlock Jim - a kind of vegan Napoleon. The self-righteousness of such protestors is bottomless - a dangerous quality when combined with a police force which is uncertain about where to draw the line: "Avoiding a possible riot is more important than enforcing the letter of the law," said one officer after anti-traffic protestors had obliged his men to give up their attempt to keep a road unblocked. It may well have been the right decision at the time, but it does rather suggest that if you wish to ignore the law a plausible threat to riot is the only weapon you need.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

    £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

    Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

    Day In a Page

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map