It was a dull start to the week on i-player but it picked up towards the end. Without Father Brown or WPC 56 or, of course, Sherlock; I had no engaging dramas to anchor my viewing schedule. So I floundered about in the land of QI for a bit and then I was so stuck I got out some of my old Friends DVD’s. But this was a bit of a shock: long-time readers of this blog will know how much I loved Friends and how devastated I was when it was cancelled. But when I put on a random episode from Series 3 I just sat and thought, What the hell did I watch this for? It seemed to me the most self-indulgent, inconsequential, almost incestuous trivia, so much so that I turned it off after only 20 mins. It was like finding someone you used to hang out with, and when you meet years later, you can’t understand why you ever put up with them.
But the week picked up, especially when I fell into a a film about Uday Hussain’s body double. The notoriously dangerous and unstable son of Saddam Hussain sent his henchmen to pick someone off the streets who looked like him, to be his body double and so save him from potentially dangerous situations. Like everyone Uday chooses, Latif has no choice but to go along with the charade, undergoing facial surgery and tooth extractions so that he looks just like his tormentor. The agony of such a choice is really rubbed in; in the end Latif has to do as he is told in order to save his family whom Uday has threatened.
‘The Devil’s Double’ shows Uday grabbing girls off the street to have sex with them and later dump them – in some cases literally – and living a life of out-of-control lust and rage. The film’s most shocking moment comes when the pair happen to drive by a wedding. The bride and groom have just tied the knot; she is all in white and they both look very happy. Uday gate-crashes the reception, looks at Latif and says: ‘I could f*** that! Could you f*** that? I could f*** that!’ Latif tries to talk him out of it, but it’s hopeless: Uday seizes the bride, rapes her and leaves her pn the bridal bed, after which she throws herself from the hotel roof.
But this is the turning-point. In the end Latif escapes with Sorabh, Uday’s girlfriend. She betrays him but when Latif’s father is threatened he saves the day by telling Latif to ‘tell this devil to go to hell – or you are no longer my son.’ The tale ends with Latif shooting Uday in the genitals and escaping.
I urge you to watch this before it disappears: it’s at least as compelling as the story of Caligula and brilliantly acted.
On the radio I caught up with an intriguing drama about the mysterious death of Jane Austen:
and an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice:
Oh, and I watched a bit of Blandings, which was entertaining but a bit OTT; more Tom Sharpe, I thought, than PG Wodehouse, but there you go…