Tuesday, July 4

Laughs, deaths and tragedy

Rachel Calton finds Monday night on Channel 4 is as emotionally confusing as an attractive ladyboy

Niall Fergason in War of the Worlds (8pm Channel 4) does what David Attenborough does for wildlife or Michael Palin does for travelling: making history crucial, fascinating viewing, and leaving you wondering how your science/history/geography teacher ever managed to make it all seem so dull.

Ferguson goes against the grain concentrating on dates for a different slant on “textbook history” without sensationalising events which really don’t need sensationalising, or letting his own conspiracies get in the way of giving us the facts, which are served straight up.

Last night’s programme on 20th Century violence opened with the rape of Nanking during which the Japanese slayed, abused and raped over 30,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians who they believed to be sub-human - a forgotten holocaust which took place in 1937 and before Hitler’s persecution of the Jews.

War of the Worlds was followed by Big Brother (Channel 4, 10pm). After half an hour’s heavy viewing about world changing issues, commentary such as, ‘yesterday Spiral played football with a grapefruit,’ seemed wildly out of context. But, sure enough, I was soon in the zone whereby eviction is the be-all-and-end-all of life as we know it.

A cruel twist of Channel 4 scheduling!

But down to BB business: Last night the ‘other house thing’ turned out to be one big cowboy production failure; a cheap stunt scuppered by thin walls (or worse, one big deliberate hoax, a cheap stunt orchestrated by cowboy producers). And if Big Brither is a game, why is everyone (Nicky particularly) so wildly elated at the entrance of an additional housemate, when this, surely, is a blow to the competition stakes! I am with the weird and warped paranoid Leah on this one. And if Nicky can be this frenzied by another human being, what on god’s earth will happen when she is released into the real world?

While Channel 4 saw War of the Worlds go head to head with War of the Houses, there was a tough battle on BBC2 as Catherine Tait’s Catherine Tait show went back to back with Steve Coogan’s Saxondale. This would probably have made a good comedy comparison but both programmes made me laugh in such a frenzied fashion, I forgot about the competition. Not unlike Nicky.

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