Mic Wright’s Remotely Furious: The Secret Life of Babies Beat The Boring Days of BA
Mic Wright’s Remotely Furious: The Secret Life of Babies beat the boring days of BA
I NEARLY skipped The Secret Life of Babies on ITV this week for fear that it could never life up to the greatest documentary on the inner-workings of the baby mind: Rugrats. While the makers of The Secret Life of Babies failed to catch any of their subjects talking or tumbling around on quests, they did reveal a lot most of us probably didn’t know about the bouncing little bundles of joy. One of the most striking scenes was the moment when a baby looked on utterly unperturbed as a leopard pounced at the reinforced glass dividing them. Plants, on the other hand, are babies natural nemeses. The theory is that infants are naturally adverse to foliage in case its poisonous. Quite why nature didn’t instil them with a fear of sharp teeth remain unexplained.
Meanwhile on the BBC, Stephan Mangan did his level best to make the inner workings of British Airways seem interesting while provided with surprisingly weak footage to witter over. Even an actor of Mangan’s undoubted ability couldn’t imbue a line about the windscreen of a 747 needing to be repaired in time for its flight to Aberdeen with much jeopardy. The first episode of A Very British Airline presented the airline’s staff as drones robotically repeating koans on the importance of customer service. The only truly striking moment in the first hour of this series was an instructor explaining with the straightest of straight faces that locking a deceased passenger in the toilet was very much a bad idea. Who knew?
The gem of this week’s BBC output was episode one of Amber (BBC4), the first in a four-part series which originally went out on RTE in Ireland earlier this year. Set in Dublin but undoubtedly influenced by the depth and darkness of Scandinavian crime dramas like The Killing, the story follows the aftermath of the a young girl’s disappearance. Rather than taking the route of a police procedural, it focuses unflinchingly on the effect of the event on Amber’s family and how it plays out in the press.
Each of the four episodes is told from a different character’s viewpoint. The first is seen through the eyes of Amber’s mother Sarah, an arresting performance from Eva Birthistle who managed to convey both unimaginable grief and the horrific need to keep going with the search and her son who is still with her. Jumping around in the timeline, Amber could have been as disorientating for the viewer as for the characters but Rob Cawley’s script, which draws on personal experience, is masterfully done.
Amber drew a huge audience in Ireland and caused a great deal of debate through its refusal to follow the usual narrative path for this kind of crime drama. Without spoiling anything it’s definitely worth sticking with the tale through to its conclusion. It’s actually a shame that such a real and moving drama wasn’t put in front of a bigger audience in the UK and that, unlike in Ireland, it’s not been stripped across four nights. Make sure you seek it out on iPlayer or catch up with it on Netflix when it lands there soon.