Did we like them?
Jenny’s journey was interesting; Saira surprised us in a good way; and Sanjeev surprised us in a bad way.
What was good about them?
• Comedian Jenny Eclair’s exploration of her family’s past in Malaya showed her undergoing a real struggle to come to a conclusion – no faked anger or bewilderment, just a compassionate approach to how the British occupiers tackled Chinese communists. She was shocked by gruesome photographs her father had kept of dead communists – and by his role in the sorry episode – and genuinely upset by some of the actions committed by both sides.
• Saira Khan annoyed the hell out of us on The Apprentice but we loved the easy-going rapport she struck with the people she met as she delved into the country’s 60-year history. She was genuinely interested in, and moved by, the story of a 16-year-old girl living in a refuge after fleeing her family who beat her for getting raped.
• Transvestite late-night TV talk show host Nawazish Ali was a hoot, a quality diva painted beautifully. And we quickly warmed to the hijra, a group of transvestites, transsexuals and hermaphrodites who dance at birth and marriage ceremonies to bring good luck yet live hidden away in Karachi’s dingiest alleyways.
What was bad about them?
• Sanjeev Bhaskar came across as rather charmless in his awkward encounters with the people he met while trying to convince us that India wasn’t just about snake charmers. He revelled in rubbing shoulders with the rich, powerful and famous, giving just a passing reference to “Bombay’s vast economic underclass” (the people stripping down cars for scrap were classified as clever entrepreneurs, rather than desperate).
• Sanjeev’s script we’d imagined would be fully of dry humour. It wasn’t. And Saira read her script as if she was being to forced to read out her What I Did On My Holidays essay at school. There was also took much of the ‘always look on the bright side” approach in the points they made.