Tuesday, March 25

Review: Horizon: How Does You Memory Work, and Ex-Files: The Heather McCartney story

Horizon used to be more telling than this, but at least it was more of a scoop than the Ex-Files, says Mark Lewis

I will never forget the voice. It was a woman’s voice. I was sure it was. But then a man appeared. Dr Alain Brunet had – dear God – the body of a man but the voice of a woman.

I can’t imagine I will ever be able to forget it.

Luckily, Dr Brunet also was an expert in erasing painful memories. He will have little need to erase the memory of the programme on which he was featured, Horizon: How Does Your Memory Work (Tuesday, BBC2, 9pm), because the memory is fading already, and the credits are barely rolling.

I can remember a time when Horizon used to deliver programmes which had a point and conclusion, however spurious. It is something the programme has apparently forgotten. The conclusion here, intoned with much gentle Scottish gravity by the actor John Hannah, was that ‘your memory is you’.

Turns out Alzheimers disease is also fucking terrible. Thanks very much John. What next? A kick in the bollocks is fairly painful? Drinking tequila gets you smashed?

My research is already way ahead of that of the Horizon team. Dr Brunet told us that the beta blockers he was using to impair people’s memory was the start of a real breakthrough in helping people to forget. How does seven pints of snakebite followed by 12 shots of black sambuka down the Watford Ritzy on a Friday night work for ya?

Horizon was the equivalent. It will not represent a painful memory. It was not that affecting. Rather, this was an hour of platitudes backed up by research into the blatant.

Some 25 minutes into the programme, Hannah was still explaining that our memories of the past help us to imagine the future. One poor soul whose Hippocampi had never developed properly lived in a state of perpetual happiness, never really thinking about the past but never worrying about the future either.

Anything he had to recall he had to write down.

If I ever read what I’ve written here again, I doubt I’ll remember this programme.

But at least it didn’t have the cheek to describe itself as an exclusive.

The same cannot be said of ITV1 which described its quickly cobbled together Ex-Files (10.35pn) as just such. The ex in this case was ex Mrs McCartney, Heather. And with some relish, the programme took to unravelling her fanciful life.

There is little doubt that Ms Mills is a unedifying fantasist and self-publicist. Her demand for £124m and attitude to ending up with just £24m of Paul’s cash is all abhorrent.

The judge described her as a ‘less than candid witness’ who is ‘devoid of reality and who indulges in make believe.’ In the mid-1990s she was apparently passing herself off as a completely different Heather Mills who worked on the Observer, and getting jobs on the back of her work. She dumped her ex-fiance just six days before they were due to be married having met multi-million Paul. She starred in a soft porn book, and claimed it was an educational pamphlet. She exaggerated an abuse scandal from her childhood, having pretended to have been imprisoned by a paedophile for three days – dropping her childhood friend in amongst her lies in the process.

But she could have been the brains behind Idi Amin, and she still wouldn’t have been half as loathsome as the bright orange old hags they wheeled out to condemn her on this programme.

Face after face of bleached blonde, vinegar-titted old celebrity hacks were sent out to put the claws in to her, their dried up old fannies practically smiling at the prospect of taking someone down a peg or two – well at least one peg anyway.

This said a lot more about the bitchiness which pervades popular media than it did about Heather or Paul – who, by the way, has been shit for 40 years.

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