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28 November ‘12

TV Critics: Poor Us; Goodnight Britain; Supersized Earth; The Hour

“You were richer for watching it.” Read on for the verdict on last night’s TV.

Poor Us – An Animated History of Poverty, BBC4

“Poor Us was a miracle of clarity and compression. It wore its learning lightly and deployed it well, informing the ignorant (among which I count myself) without – I imagine – insulting the intelligence of those better acquainted with the subject. If I may speak for my fellow ignoramuses, it was as if someone was reaching into your brain in every scene and briskly dusting off broken fragments of books and articles read, uniting disparate thoughts, supplementing others, planting new ones and oiling the rusting machinery at your cerebral centre that would allow you, once the new, knowledge-salve had worked its way thoroughly round, to cogitate further at your leisure. This is not a feeling you get often from television. You were richer for watching it.”
Lucy Mangan, The Guardian

“The cartoon dream in which we were invited to imagine ourselves as an Everypauper morphing through the aeons was both beguiling and arresting – beguiling because the simple shadow images were beautiful, and arresting because the commentary was full of sharp-elbowed assaults on perceived wisdom… Admittedly, Lewis relied almost as heavily on interviews with academics as cartoons, and admittedly too he ended weakly with a premonition of the poor rising and attacking, but this is a mind-stretching film. Adam Curtis, eat you heart out.”
Andrew Billen, The Times

Goodnight Britain, BBC1

“Insomnia is horrible and serious snoring almost as brain-shredding for an unlucky partner. But neither fact makes it any more interesting to watch people tossing and turning in the dim monochrome of a night-vision camera.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

“To say that most of the sleep problems could probably be solved by showing the sufferers this programme would be both a cheap gag and a genuine recommendation. It was as sinfully boring and as soporific as you might – especially, say, if you were a commissioning editor paid to think these things through – suspect an hour of watching people sleep, however badly, might be. The desperate need to inject interest was palpable.”
Lucy Mangan, The Guardian

“This wasn’t just a bit of BBC Science-Lite about sleep. This was serious life-changing stuff. There’s hope for all five sleep patients apparently and we’ll discover what form that takes next week. Strangely, like a sleepwalker, I’m pretty sure I’m going to find myself tuning in.”
Matt Baylis, Daily Express

Supersized Earth, BBC1

“I’m slightly at a loss to describe what Supersized Earth is about. Engineering? Social change? An opportunity to make Campbell do thrillingly ghastly things? This week, perversely, it seemed to be about how we’ve successfully shrunk the Earth through advances in transportation, making it far less supersized than it used to be. But it’s probably best if you don’t try to pull out a coherent thread and just treat it as the television equivalent of a flick through the technology section of the Guinness World Records.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

The Hour, BBC2

“The thing about The Hour is that it is so slow it seems to last about 120 minutes. To say it lost the plot last night would suggest that in this, its second, and surely, final season, it had actually found one.”
Andrew Billen, The Times

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