Thursday, July 27

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Deven Pamben watches an evening of BBC documentaries which leave him bemused, bored, sad and angry

With a faulty freeview box I was left to choose between the five terrestrial channels for last night's viewing. Actually three. What with Channel five showing a friendly football match, and ITV just being plain rubbish, I settled into an evening in front of BBC1.

This week is Big Bear Week (BBC1, 7pm).

The programme involves three groups following brown, polar and black bears.

Amid the beautiful shots of Canada and Alaska we get see the day-to-day lives of the bears. We slightly confusingly cut between three different stories every few minutes and to be honest not a great deal was going on.

It got to the point where cameraman Jeff Turner, who was following the black bears gave us his Keith Floyd impersonation during which we discovered clover (the flower) is really good in salads; Jeff is a vegetarian; and if anyone has the fortune to be in Whistler, in Canada, there is a really great restaurant called Chic Pea, who do some of the best vege burgers in the world.

Posh bird Saba Douglas-Hamilton seems the unluckiest as she mostly can’t find any polar bears at all (the buggers are probably in plain sight in the snow in front of the camera, only covering their tell-tale black noses with their paws). When she finally found some they just chilled out on the rocks, looking over the ocean, doing nothing.

My kinda life.

This is no David Attenborough masterpiece but I applaud the BBC for programmes like this – attempting to be informative, educational and entertaining – even though the only real thing I learnt was about clover being good in salads.

Next up was Are You Being Served? (BBC1,7.30pm). This is where the BBC lets itself down. This was just irritating. Some guy called Arkin went to a variety of restaurants seeing what kind of service he received. I’m still undecided whether I want him to get food poisoning.
One restaurant, The Wok and Grill was criticised for not allowing kids who are more than 1.2m tall to have a half price menu. I like this philosophy – us short people never get any benefits. This gives shorter kids an opportunity to laugh at the expense of taller children in this world – the same tall kids who probably laugh at short people for not being allowed on all those rides at theme parks.

Anyway, Arkin later gives some girls some advice on customer service. Admittedly the service they offered was atrocious but the poor girls live in Rhyll and work at a Hungry Horse. No offence but if I was in their position I wouldn’t give a shit either.

Back to the wild animals, and The Boys who killed Stephen Lawrence (BBC1, 9pm).

Once again the BBC has to be praised for this powerful documentary. Every so often we see investigational journalism highlighting corruption and prejudice.

The documentary found evidence that questioned the alibis of the five suspected of Stephen’s death as well as identifying alleged police corruption.

For me, allegations of police corruption and incompetence come as no surprise – in the years since the original botched police investigation, we’ve come to expect it. And even if the new allegations of corrupt police in cahoots with the gangster families of the accused five prove untrue, the programme reminded us about the how the police, CPS and their own family lawyers failed the Lawrences.

Having to re-watch the injustice of the initial court case, Stephen’s mother Doreen uses he words ‘it pains me’.

The whole sickening events surrounding Stephen’s death should continue to pain us all. The sad thing is that programmes like this no longer really even shock.

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