TV Reviews: Dazzled and The Crash

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Documentaries about the fashion industry can usually be relied upon to supply some moments of high comedy - in Dazzled (BBC1), Christopher Olgiati's 50-minute application form for the job of directing Calvin Klein's next fragrance commercial, the high spot was the appearance of Isabella Blow, a "fashion guru". She looked like a trout-fishing fly which had been tied by a hallucinating ghillie - fan of spiky black fur on top, a ruff of rhubarb and custard angora round the neck and a glittery lurex top which would have caught the light perfectly while she was being dragged across a sunlit pool. The runner up was Jay Alexander, a seven-foot tall black man who taught top models how to mince, and who turned up to the show he was directing in a wraparound thigh-high skirt and stiletto heels. These are splendours that need cherishing. To paraphrase Gerard Manley Hopkins, "what would the world be once bereft/ Of camp and of craziness? Let them be left."

Olgiati's film put the director's occasionally troubling weakness for visual glamour to very effective use and the soundtrack was terrific too. It was a good application form, in other words, but as television it had suffered a little in hitting the stage directly behind Babewatch, ITV's soap-doc about the model agency Select. Olgiati had gone with Storm, Kate Moss's agency, and had thought a little more sombrely about the implications of a career in desire, but he still had difficulty shaking off the sense of deja-vu. Both films included scenes of agency bookers stalking the Clothes Show exhibition to procure young girls - and it struck you as some achievement that the two film crews had managed to keep each other out of shot. Both programmes also built themselves around the progress of newcomers (a sassy GCSE casualty called Charlotte in the case of Dazzled thus betraying exactly the same taste for unsmirched innocence which Olgiati's film later deplored in those who run the fashion business.

In fact the uneasy conscience arrived rather belatedly, as if the director wanted you to luxuriate in the sexy allure of this life - these fairytale transformations from gawky schoolgirl to catwalk stars - before he expressed any doubts. There was a brisk discussion of heroin addiction and anorexia and oppressive body images - but nothing that was likely to spoil the effect of Charlotte's final triumph, a booking for Versace in Milan. There was also an explanation for those puzzled by the frequent discrepancy between fashion's notion of "fabulous" and that of the average man in the street: "We're calling it edge," said one industry insider, explaining the new hot look. "That's a pretty way of saying ugly."

There are 40,000 serious traffic accidents in Britain every year and it can sometimes feel as if we're going to be shown every one of them, either as a 999 reconstruction or as part of the varied menu of damage served up by blue-light documentaries. The Crash (ITV) had attempted to distinguish itself from other exercises in this genre by following all aspects of a single accident, from the arrival of the emergency services to the light tap on the wrist administered to the errant driver some seven months later. Did this transform it from standard rubbernecking into solid evidence that ITV still cares about serious documentaries? Not in my book it didn't. Although the case chosen involved a time-consuming convalescence, the film still had difficulty making it to the full hour; halfway through it took time out for a slightly bizarre montage of vehicular carnage cut to a jazz soundtrack, as if it were a music video for a track called "Crash". I suppose this was intended to drive home the message that we are all at risk - the film began with a sequence which looked strikingly like a Drink Driving campaign and ended with the sobering information that five serious accidents would have taken place in the time it took you to watch the film.

But I'm less sure how they would justify their approach to Andrew Wilson, the driver of the car. He declined to be interviewed and was punished for this breach of media manners by having his arrival at court shown in slow motion - all aggressive stare and puffa-jacket swagger. Guilty, on the grounds of unpleasant appearance.

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