WE ALL know that the heart is merely a pump, I am fond of
saying, thus reinforcing my up-to-date, radical credentials -
except that David Malone's film Heart v. Mind (BBC4,
Tuesday of last week) suggests, I am completely wrong.
Malone took us on a surprisingly tentative and provisional
exploration that attempted to redress the understanding of humans
as rational beings who happen to feel emotions, of brains that
control a complex organic mechanism; and, instead, to recover a
balance between head and heart, placing real significance on the
fact that it is inside our chest that we feel love, fear, and
There is a subtle line between TV documentaries in which the
personal engagement of the presenter feels like an ego-trip, and
those - such as this one - where he or she reveals involvement with
the subject without so filling up the foreground that nothing else
can be seen.
Malone showed us a number of medical and physiological
experiments that appear to support his thesis: we must look at the
whole person, not exalt the brain as though it is the only thing
that counts. He suggests that, rather than considering our
rationality above everything else, it makes more sense to think of
ourselves as emotional creatures who can think. Our feelings are
primary, and they, at least, feel as though they are centred on the
I found particular food for thought (ha!) in his exploration of
the empathy of the heart: it literally beats in sympathy with the
emotion, pain, and joy of those around us. I was not convinced by
all his arguments, but this seemed important TV. Perhaps next time
the not exactly unrelated consideration of how faith and religion
contribute to the head/heart debate could be included.
Multiple heartbreaks were the order of the day in Riots: The
aftershock (BBC3, Monday of last week). Gemma Cairney, similar
in age to many of the rioters, displayed a splendid combination of
empathy and steely determination as she explored what effect the
four days last summer had had on both perpetrators and victims.
She found lives ruined, one way or another: the prison sentences
that clanged the door shut on not just a few months of liberty, but
on entire future prospects; the destruction of shops, cafés, and
homes which wrecked carefully built-up dreams. It put a human face
on some of the rioters, revealing them to be loving, if far from
perfect, partners, parents, and children (in other words, just like
you and me).
It showed some of those who admitted to being swept along in a
moment of madness glimpsing what effect their actions had on the
victims, and on their own families. I found it sobering and
Bank of Dave (Channel 4, Thursday of last week) is a
two-part series showing how the entrepreneur David Fishwick used
his anger at the failure of conventional banks to spur him on to
regenerate his home town, Burnley, by setting up a small-scale bank
to lend to local businesses.
The first episode showed him entangled with FSA regulations -
but going ahead anyway, to the despair of his lawyer and advisers.
He is direct and energetic, and never takes no for an answer. You
long for him to succeed - and rejoice that you are not working for