Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pick of the Night

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pick of the Night

Article excerpt

Byline: IMOGEN RIDGWAY

Human Mutants 9pm, Channel 4

GROWTH seems very simple," says evolutionary biologist Armand Leroi. "Just a matter of small things getting bigger." Stop giggling at the back - despite its sensationalist title, this is a serious new three-part series about genetic development. (Mind you, this is Channel 4, the network that brought us the equally provocatively named Flashers Uncovered and Happy Birthday Thalidomide.) So- Human Mutants, eh? Should we brace ourselves for a parade of threeheaded types? No. This first programme - examining how humans grow and what happens when our growth mechanisms go wrong - is actually a peculiar mixture of drama, interviews, pieces to camera and the occasional scientific fact.

It opens in true History Channel style, with a brooding, grainy film reconstructing the arrival of a family of dwarves at Auschwitz during the Second World War, who were saved from the gas chambers because they were of interest to frightening Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.

But no sooner have we adjusted our eyes to this dark picture than up pops Leroi (above right) in front of a red curtain to tell us what the programme is all about.

Then we're off again, meeting modernday tall man Chris Greener (who stands at more than seven feet), before dashing back in time to look at other British giants, revisiting Auschwitz for a couple of minutes, chatting to an American dwarf, and ending up in a laboratory cutting the legs off salamanders (they grow back, you know). And that's all within the first 20 minutes. Shall we stop to catch our breath?

There is no doubt that this is an extremely informative documentary, and the programme-makers clearly want to cram as many facts as possible into their allocated hour. However, you might want to tape it and watch it twice, just to make sure you haven't missed anything.

SOAP BOX

Emmerdale 7pm, ITV1

Apart from the surely-this can't be-happening Scott-Zoe lovefest, there's a trail of broken hearts up Emmerdale high street.

Simon is dejected over vile Nicola (Nicola Wheeler, above), and Katie goes back to doing what she does best: leaving whichever Sugden brother she has got bored of this week. …

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