There’s a famous and overused line about the past being a foreign country, and people doing things differently there; in some cases this seems a bit of a shame (what’s wrong with being embalmed and put in a pyramid after you die, eh?) but in many cases it’s a relief to look back and realise that the past is, well, passed, and that things have changed. In the case of the Brixton riots of 1981, we can all be smug in the knowledge that race relations in this country have never been better and that we all exist in multi-culti harmony. Can’t we? Hmm. The Brixton riots seem as though they took place in a different world entirely; read this eye-witness account full of arresting period detail – “class war”, “anarchist squatters” – and terms that are, sadly, pretty damn familiar – “stop and search”, “urban deprivation”, “mindless state bullying”. The violent release of anger and frustration that took place 25 years ago on Brixton Road and Coldharbour Lane is examined in The Battle For Brixton (Mon 7pm BBC2); watch to see how far we’ve come. Or not, as the case may be.
Every Parent’s Nightmare (Mon 11.15 BBC1) follows Rev Julie Nicholson, who lost her daughter in last year’s Tube bombings, as she tries to come to terms with her loss, yet finds herself unable to forgive the bomber who killer her Jennifer. This won’t be easy viewing, but the questions it raises about the crushing hegemony of the forgiveness culture are vital. Why should the relatives of murder victims – even bereaved vicars, for whom forgiveness is in the job description – feel pressured to forgive their loved ones’ killers, just because society at large is not comfortable with their grief? Why should they move on and stop making inconvenient references to a past that certain people in power would rather forget – whether in London, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Bosnia, or South Africa?
Kids these days, eh – either they’re gluttons for punishment, or they’re so desperate to appear on the telly that they are prepared to do anything, including volunteering for the mental and physical punishment of That’ll Teach ‘Em (Tue 9pm C4). Good, we say – the little sods could probably do with a decent dose of discipline in the 50s grammar-style school setting, which this season attempts to answer the semtex-loaded question of whether boys or girls are cleverer, and whether girls’ current academic dominance is because of so-called (by the Daily Hell, at least) ‘female-friendly’ modern educational models of coursework and continuous assessment or because of innate female superiority. We don’t really care what ‘truths’ That’ll Teach ‘Em manages to demonstrate; we just want to see these texting, swearing, irresponsible young scamps suffer. Ahem. Not that we’re sadists, or anything – unlike the man in Me And My Slaves (Tue 11.05pm C4), who “used to have a fetish for sadomasochism”, apparently. Now, correct us if we’re wronger than Britney giving birth on all fours on a bearskin rug (tsk tsk, everyone knows she had a Caesarean), but aren’t fetishes rather intractable by nature – like, if you’ve got one, you’re pretty much stuck with it, which is inconvenient if your fetish involves hyper-hirsute Paraguayan dwarves with three nipples called Dave? Can one ever be a former S&M addict, or merely a dormant (or bound and gagged) one? Anyway, Me And My Slaves is part of Channel 4′s latest
torrent of filth special season, The Dark Side Of Porn, with programmes all week looking at porn’s seamier side. Uh, porn has a less seamy side? That’s news.
The eternal cycle of TV churns on like a big, um, spinning thing – programmes are born (The Street, Thur 9pm BBC1, a new quality drama by Jimmy McGovern about people who live on a street – high-concept stuff, this), die (Footballers Wive$ series finale, Thur 9pm ITV1 – we are utterly distraught and are going to have to quaff lots of champagne to get over the loss of Tanya, Eva, Bruno, Liberty, Shannon, Tre etc, if not Paulo with his enormous forehead and pointy alien chin) and are reborn (Nighty Night, Thur 10pm BBC2 – the thought of more Jill is almost enough to make up for no more Tanya, as the West Country’s finest gets away with murder again; the new series of Grumpy Old Men, Fri 10pm BBC2, adds Des Lynam, among others, to the line-up). Oh, and some sci-fi show is back, too. As if anyone’s interested in Doctor Who (Sat 7.15pm BBC1) anymore! What, you are? Ah, well, we suppose you’ve in all probability watched the new trailer, then, and know that this new series opener features an old enemy for the new (and rather dishy) Doctor, and Billie (why did Billie Piper cross the road? Because she wanted to, because she wanted to!). We’ll leave you to your nerdgasms, dear fans, and get back to camwhoring in the vain hope that some dirty old man will buy us the Babylon 5 DVD coffer we’ve been dreaming about. Has anyone else noticed that Delenn is now Rousseau in Lost? Does anyone else care? Just us then? Ah well …