Catch up TV reviews: The Family Secret, Growing Up Poor, First Dates
Ivan Radford | On 08, Dec 2019
The Family Secret (All 4)
It’s hard to recommend a piece of TV that’s deeply disturbing and uncomfortable to watch, but The Family Secret is that rare example of a documentary that’s shocking and chilling yet also tactful and sensitive. It introduces us to a family where the secret in question is horrific – a case of abuse that wasn’t spoken about for 25 years, not because of some cover-up but because of sheer shame and obliviousness that such a thing might even carry on in their family home. It’s a cautionary, deeply unsettling watch, one that manages to balance the tragic honesty of what happened with the brave strength of the woman who has since gone on to live her life without defining herself as a victim.
Dispatches: Growing Up Poor (All 4)
To deny the social crisis that currently plagues our society is to be completely out of touch with the reality of years of inequality, austerity and a lack of compassion from a system that’s designed not to support the people who need it. Dispatches gives us a window onto that reality for 45 minutes this week, and even that short glimpse of life on the breadline is enough to make a heart-wrenching impact. Food banks, delayed universal credit payments and pawn shops are the routines that define the families’ lives we witness, as the children are made all too aware of the challenge of trying to get by with a limited number of top-up fuel vouchers allowed per person. From children using hot water bottles and sharing a bed with their mum to stay warm to a daughter optimistically counting out the 45 pence in her piggy bank to make things better, this gut-churning documentary is a reminder that just one change in circumstances is all it takes to push a family over the edge into a poverty trap and homelessness cycle. This will make you weep with sympathy and shout with rage.
First Dates: Season 13 (All 4)
In a week where politics, social inequality and abuse all rear their heads, there’s something wonderfully uplifting and reassuring about the unchanged formula of Channel 4’s feel-good gem that is First Dates. Now in its 13th season, the show continues to showcase every possible combination of romance in the broadcaster’s familiar restaurant for blind dates. The start of Season 13 is no different, as we see a 71-year-old go on her first date in half a century, two youngsters from Hull and Leeds taken aback by the fanciness of their food and one woman who wants a James Corden doppelgänger more than anything else. Perfectly edited, including candid phone calls in the bathroom, and charmingly presented by the restaurant’s team of encouraging staff, the sheer positivity of the programme wanting these suitors to find love is infectiously warm-hearted. The one thing Channel 4 has changed? This season is the first time the whole box set has been released all-at-once on All 4 alongside its first episode. The real sign of true love? You’re not sick of it after spending six hours in a row with it.