Catch up TV reviews; Secret Life of 6 Year Olds, World’s Most Expensive Five, Unreported World, Suspects
James R | On 29, Nov 2015
When you hear the words “original drama”, you think of Neflix, Amazon, the BBC or HBO. You don’t think of Channel 5. That’s because the channel doesn’t really commission any. Suspects is a rare exception.
But that’s not the only thing that sets the cop series, which returned this week for a fourth season, apart from the crime crowd: Suspects is an improved show, with each actor given the rough outline of the story and left to make up their dialogue.
The opening instalment of the new run sees our London cops dealing with a hit and run and a former soldier with PTSD. It’s hardly the most thrilling or original of plots, but the trick is in the presentation, which embraces that low-key subject with an equally downplayed approach: grubby visuals and grainy cameras are the order of the day, giving things a fly-on-the-wall feel that matches the natural delivery of the cast. If the novelty has worn off by its fourth season – the show’s opener had the lowest ratings of the series – the good news is that all of the first three seasons are also on My5 to catch up.
The Secret Life of 6 Year Olds (All 4)
Put a child in front of a model of three mountains and ask them to describe them from someone else’s point of view and they won’t be able to – at least, not until the age of 7, according to an old study by Jean Piaget. Channel 4’s series focusing on 4, 5 and 6 year olds is therefore fascinating, as its group of subjects get older and older. The Secret Life of 6 Year Olds continues the show’s winning blend of cute antics, surprisingly honest observations and amusing conversations. It’s in the brief seconds where you witness those milestones in cognitive development in action that it really works: Alfie, asked to paint another pupil in his class, does a terrible job. When the group is asked to vote for the best, he starts to understand why the girl he painted is upset. It’s a heartbreaking moment that’s caught on camera with brilliant clarity.
Photo: Channel 4 / Richard Ansett
Unreported World (All 4)
Channel 4’s excellent factual series continues its on-form run with another half-hour documentary about child preachers in Brazil. Can they really heal the sick, as they claim? Is it all one big ruse? And how do the parents feel about making their children teach? One boy, who grew up wearing shiny shirts on stage, testifies loudly to a crowd, while his dad tries to sell DVDs in the car park outside. If they don’t shift enough copies, the family can’t afford to live. The juxtaposition makes for engrossing viewing.
Photo: Channel 4 / Quicksilver
The World’s Most Expensive Food (All 4)
“Like feeding strawberries to pigs,” says one chef, as they present a platter of fruit canapes to a bunch of clients. The pigs in question? Obscenely rich people, who pay through the nose for outrageous (and outrageously expensive) food. It’s hard to know whether the programme is meant to be celebrating the audacious cuisine or laughing at the swine on screen. But with Tracy-Ann Oberman’s narration over the top, the parade of excess becomes wonderfully grotesque. One minute, it’s gold bottles of champagne. The next? Escargot pearls. Or, as normal people call them, snails’ eggs. Given that only a year ago, Channel 4 brought us the docu-series Benefits Street, it’s fun to have the shoe on the other foot.
Photo: Channel 4 / Indus Films