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Dark Money - BBC1 Written by Levi David Addai, who gave us the award-winning Damilola, Our Beloved Boy, a dramatisation of a real-life murder, BBC1's mini-series Dark Money is a fictional story revolving around the sexual abuse of a child actor and the catastrophic effect it has on the young victim and his family.

It begins with Isaac (Max Fincham) returning to his modest London home from Hollywood, where he has been playing the second lead in a sci-fi blockbuster. His proud parents, Manny Mensah (Babou Ceesay, who also played the father in the Damilola Taylor film) and Sam (Jill Halfpenny) and his extended family have laid on a welcome home party. Isaac seems unwilling to join in the celebrations and slips off to his bedroom where he brings up a video recording on his smartphone. His parents come looking for him and he says "sorry" while handing them the phone. They are horrified to hear the film's producer, Jotham Starr, forcing Isaac to perform a sex act on him. And, since Isaac had the presence of mind to record the crime, it is clear that this is not the first time he has abused the child.

Isaac tells his father that he doesn't want anyone else to know what happened to him. This is Manny's first problem. If he goes to the police, the story will be splashed across every paper and TV station in the world. He and Sam consult a lawyer, who tells them the British courts have no jurisdiction over crimes committed in America. Isaac would have to return to the US and face a gruelling cross-examination at the hands of Starr's lawyers, who might counter-sue for defamation of their client's character.

Cheryl (Rebecca Front), the film's casting director, who failed so miserably in her role as chaperone, sets up a meeting with Starr's legal team. They point out that the recording does not show their client since the camera was pointed at the ceiling. But they are sufficiently spooked to offer Manny PS3 million in return for signing a non-disclosure agreement.

We have already established that Manny is broke. He had to borrow money from Sabrina, the work colleague he had an affair with, and had a son by, a year before Isaac was born, to pay a parking fine. Yes, Manny's love life is rather complicated.

I would like to have seen Manny and Sam discussing the rights and wrongs of accepting the massive bribe but, instead, we see them living in a multi-million-pound mansion within seconds of the meeting.

In the second episode, the Mensah family begins to implode. Isaac's older sister, a wannabe actress jealous of her kid brother's success, storms out of the family mansion. Sam throws Sabrina's love child, Tyrone, after her.

At the film's premiere, Isaac is upset when Manny shakes the paedophile producer's hand, rather than punching his head off. Sam and Isaac stomp off hand-in-hand, leaving Manny to wander the streets, ruminating on the old adage "if you sup with the devil, use a long spoon".

With two episodes still to come, it's to be hoped that Jotham Starr meets the same fate, or worse, than that experienced by the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Rolf Harris.

It has been an engrossing watch so far, and the performances from most of the cast have been excellent, but some of the subplots should have ended up on the cutting room floor - including Isaac's skirt-touching incident at school and his sister's desperate efforts to emulate his success.

8 Days to the Moon and Back - BBC2 On the night of the televised moon landing 50 years ago, I was staying with a hippy couple who didn't have a TV set. This was all the more strange because they both worked for a television company.

Anyway, the net result was that I missed out on one of the greatest TV moments of the 20th Century. So I am extremely grateful to the BBC for producing 8 Days To The Moon and Back, a beautiful and terrifying reconstruction of the Apollo 11 crew's journey. Not only have I seen it now - I feel I was actually along for the ride.

Every single word uttered by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins was perfectly lip-synced by the actors playing them. The awe in the astronauts' voices when they first saw the sunrise on their home planet, possibly for the last time, was palpable.

There were so many memorable moments: The camera floating around the crew's heads, the nerve-jangling docking of the lunar module, the fuel almost running out, the broken switch that almost scuppered the multi-billion-dollar expedition. When the awards for best documentary are handed out, this fantastic achievement deserves to be at the head of the queue.



Isaac (Max Fincham), Sam (Jill Halfpenny) and Manny Mensah (Babou Ceesay)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Press and Journal (Aberdeen,Scotland)
Article Type:Television program review
Date:Jul 13, 2019
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