TV UK, 3 July

It is obvious that Alastair Campbell is behind the bomb plot in 24.

Dolan Cummings

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‘The president is about to go to war based on falsified evidence!’ As season two of 24 approaches its exciting conclusion on the BBC, there is an eerie parallel with recent real events.

Jack Bauer has torn the damning evidence from the corpse of his single unidentified source, but will it be enough to stop the war? Not if Alastair Campbell has anything to do with it. It is obvious that Campbell is the Big Bad behind the whole bomb plot. I keep expecting him to pop up on Channel 4 News, insisting that Bauer is making such a ‘serious allegation’ that it can’t possibly be true.

Whatever Campbell did or didn’t do to official documents, his real achievement is surely to have made himself bigger news than what’s actually happening in Iraq, and to convince anyone that this Australian daytime soap of a story is really a taut political thriller. Perhaps the BBC should put him to work on the increasingly dismal Spooks. (Full disclosure: I haven’t seen Spooks since the second episode – the ‘increasingly’ has been inserted for ‘sex’ appeal.)

Speaking of sexing things up, Wildlife on One (BBC1, Wednesdays at 7pm), for years a bastion of perfectly interesting, easy-on-the eye natural history, has suddenly gone all CSI. Wednesday’s episode began with the discovery of a murdered gazelle fawn, and forensic scientists went to work identifying the culprit. The baboon done it, if you’re interested.

Actually, what this really reminded me of was not CSI, but Captain Zepp, a really dodgy series from my youth, in which a bunch of kids with futuristic combed-back hair was asked to solve intergalactic murder mysteries along with the eponymous super space detective. It was both fun and educational. Next week, murder in the Amazon – ready with your Brylcreem and notepads, kids!

More excitement in unexpected quarters. Silvio Berlusconi has started Italy’s presidency of the European Union Council of Ministers in style, by suggesting a German MEP play a Nazi in a forthcoming Italian film. That went down well. Berlusconi last made international news when he stood up for Western civilisation during the frenzy of cultural disavowal that followed 9/11. Bravo, some of us were tempted to shout, except that this is the man who is largely responsible for the content of Italian television, and therefore is not best qualified to comment on matters of civilisation.

It is entirely possible that Alastair Campbell is really behind the scandal, in an effort to get the masses interested in European politics. This time, he’s bitten off more than he can chew.

Dolan Cummings is publications editor at the Institute of Ideas, and editor of Culture Wars. He is also the editor of Reality TV: How Real Is Real?, Hodder Murray, 2002 (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)).

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