Prey-review of first episode-some spoilers- ITV Channel or Channel # 103 on Virgin Media TV Mondays @ 9pm in the UK

Prey

So Prey is inadvertently amusing.  It is like a spoof show of every Detective drama on the BBC.  Prey also contains just about every actor/ actress that has ever appeared in a BBC Police drama.  In the same roles.

Except for the welcome sight of the officially lesbian Police sergeant from the rather good series about a group of lesbian friends set in Glasgow.  Which i obviously can’t remember the name of.

Point is, the gay Police Sergeant in that drama was one of my favourite characters: tough, fit and given as always, to jogging around cool urban locations and walkways and so on.  However in Prey they have given her awful hair and she is the hero’s wife who is not long for this world.

We know this fact already due to the overkill if you will pardon the pun, of TV trailers for Prey and previews which have already advised us that the ever-running down the road hero Detective has been accused of murdering his wife.

The opening scene of Prey has been taken from the titular scene in Line Of duty 2 in which the Detective is first shown upside down, hanging from his seat belt in an overturned Police van.  The other actors from Police drama such as the hero’s close friend at work is also from Line of Duty 2 and has pretty much the same role.

The Police Inspector in charge, sneering and nasty one minute, ensconced in a white forensics suit and near weeping next, is the same slightly mysterious and suspect head of the Detective Unit in The Tunnel, the British remake of The Bridge 1.

So, back track to x amount of time,  i think it was 3 days earlier before the upturned Police van in which our hero Detective is dangling…

There is a particularly gruesome find (when are they any other) of a body deep in a field in what appears to be a moor in Yorkshire which turns out to be a missing gangster from back in the day.  Well it was either him or an associate I am afraid my attention was wandering .  As in wondering whether i had the patience to stick with this in seriousness or whether i might watch Prey in some kind of half amusement and accept its spoof-like nature.

Anyway, of course this gangster was a very bad man and he was so back in the day that all and i mean all of the files on him are unaccountably stored on just two lonely floppy discs.  Our hero has to get an old computer tower down from the loft to access the disc.  Just the sort of thing you keep in your loft.

In between all this we are bored with the original beginning of how hero Detective goes out for a drink with his best/ bezzie mate Copper, they get drunk, his mate falls over and breaks his right wrist.  Remember this.

Whilst the Detective is waiting with his mate as he lies on a hospital bed (just for a broken wrist which seems a bit unlikely in casualty) the mate waxes less then lyrically about his life, whether he could cope with having children.  Boringly on and on.  However we have to pay attention since this scene is obviously there for a reason.

 Suffice to say,  the dopey looking best mate of the Detective is the same guy from Line Of Duty Two.  Without giving away Line of Duty 2 for those who haven’t seen it, for those who have, like me: this meant that i immediately suspect  (best) bezzie mate of being the mysterious new lover mentioned by the Detective’s ex-wife.

Of course she is the ex-wife this being a Police drama and marriage and Police work seem to have become mutually forever exclusive and incompatible.

Unfortunately after this declaration from his ex-wife of a new love in her life, the Detective gets angry, shouts and unwisely punches the wall and makes a hole.  You would think this an unlikely happening in most brick walls however i have seen the evidence that it can  most certainly happen in a lesser type partition wall.

So all this, the shouting and the hole in the wall already is being ticked off mentally by the viewer as inevitable black marks versus the Detective when poor ex-wife (and used to be glamorous gay sergeant from another drama) is brutally murdered.

The murder happens so quickly in the time it takes the Detective to talk to an extremely sinisterly spoken apparition in the form of a witness to the aforementioned gangster’s disappearance.  The Detective meets this wispily long haired sibilantly speaking man in a pub.  He is a famous British actor who always plays the same role.  Of a sinisterly scary man.  With long and wispy hair.

The man signed a statement saying the gangster had left the country and now says that he is not so so sure.  Then the wispily haired man unaccountably threatens the Detective’s family.  At which point the Detective gets very cross and freaked out and leaves the pub.

 The Detective appears to go straight to his ex-wife’s house.  Letting himself in with his key and has a wander around.

Bad news.  The Detective’s wife is on the floor with a large, very large kitchen knife sticking out of her stomach in almost theatrical fashion.  She is still alive and tries to pull the knife out.  As you do.
” No, no!”
 says the Detective and they both grapple with the knife.  Oops.  Fingerprints on the knife now to add to the hole in the wall.  The wall which is thin enough then for the neighbours to have heard the shouting.
(from their previous argument)

We already know the Detective is well and truly screwed.   To make things worse, there is a tiny hand just visible lying on the bottom of the stairs.

In spite of all this tragedy, i still couldn’t take this tableau seriously. Then, having not seen this further awful sight on the stairs, the Detective stumbles out of the house, down a little hillock and into a giant puddle or inexplicable small lake outside the house and brokenly weeps whilst prostate within the water.

Flash forward onto the crime scene that is now the Detective’s house and the nasty head of the Police Unit lady boss is standing staring fixedly at ex-wife on the floor looking weepy.
“She did it!”  i exclaimed to myself rather ridiculously probably.  But hey, it is that kind of show.  Ridiculous.

So all these unfortunate black marks stack up against the Detective and in the shake of a rat’s tail the stone faced Detective in charge of the case decides him guilty of murder.  On the basis of the fingerprints on the knife, the hole in the wall and, as she declares, just knowing that:
 “He did it!”.

Shouting his head off, after weeping impressively in a shocked way and lunging towards the Detective in her questioning of him, doesn’t really help our hero’s case:
I didn’t do it!
“Its OK,” the Detective in charge of his case purrs solicitously,,
“I understand, You felt them slipping away..”
“You had to annihilate them, didn’t you?”

Well no actually, but still, off the Detective goes to prison but into the prison van first.  Unfortunately for him,, the prisoner opposite him in the van somehow miraculously knows who the Detective is and his crime and has a Biro pen. stuffed up his jumper.

Next thing you know, after growling his recognition and knowledge of the Detective’s crime, the other prisoner  stabs the Detective in the chest with the Biro!  “Arrrggggh!”

All hell breaks loose, they fight, the prison van goes over, the Detective saves the lives of both the prisoner and the driver and then stumbles away down the road.  All bloody like with a giant Biro sticking out of his chest!

At first i thought this enormous item sticking out of the Detective’s chest that you see the other prisoner slowly slipping out from the inside of his sleeve was a shank.  Having learnt this form my phase of watching prison documentaries.  (however the prisoner hadn’t been to prison yet)

 Then i reasoned that this object was some part of the prison van.  But no, neither.  It was a bloody Biro.  For some reason i find this funny or maybe it is just the sight of the Detective, wandering around with a Biro sticking out of his chest.  Call me cruel.

So the detective is so damn good at running away from his own Police force whilst being accused of murder its like he took a training course.

Before you can say Jack Robinson, the Detective has hidden cleverly on the corner of a Council estate stairwell ( i forget how he got in) wrenched the gargantuan Biro from his chest, forced his way into an elderly man’s flat and bandaged his big hole in his chest with kitchen towel and electric “gaffer’s tape”.

Then the Detective is off and running again, in a new set of clothes handily nicked from a clothes line on the balcony outside the council flat.  In his incognito pink hooded top he is back to the pub where he met the wispily long haired man and questions the landlord as to where he can find that man. Or his associate.

So off the Detective goes to find the mysterious house at the end of the road, near the lamp-post with the giant dog’s head statue outside.  (don’t ask me)  Inside he finds the house empty and takes the time to phone his remaining son and then the head of the Police Unit, but wait, who is that coming through the door with an object which he proceeds to break up on the cupboard?  With his right hand?

It is too dark to see…

Fisticuffs ensue and the Detective finds himself fighting with a man with a cast on his hand, his left hand.   Oops.

I think i will leave it there.  I have already told too much.  Prey might well improve but for now it is more than faintly ridiculous for me.  It remains a  spoof.  A spoof of each and every Detective drama on the BBC.  Perhaps because it is on ITV?

I probably would have ditched on Prey except for the acting skills of the main Detective and a few others  At least it bowls along fairly merrily and i haven’t felt the urge to check the time to see how much longer it has to go, several times.

Since my patience is wearing wafer thin and time seems to have stood still or at the very least has become over-elastically (and uncomfortably) elongated, as it has when i was watching the second episode of Hinterland.

Prey-review of first episode-some spoilers- ITV Channel or Channel # 103 on Virgin Media TV Mondays @ 9pm in the UK

Prey

So Prey is inadvertently amusing.  It is like a spoof show of every Detective drama on the BBC.  Prey also contains just about every actor/ actress that has ever appeared in a BBC Police drama.  In the same roles.

Except for the welcome sight of the officially lesbian Police sergeant from the rather good series about a group of lesbian friends set in Glasgow.  Which i obviously can’t remember the name of.

Point is, the gay Police Sergeant in that drama was one of my favourite characters: tough, fit and given as always, to jogging around cool urban locations and walkways and so on.  However in Prey they have given her awful hair and she is the hero’s wife who is not long for this world.

We know this fact already due to the overkill if you will pardon the pun, of TV trailers for Prey and previews which have already advised us that the ever-running down the road hero Detective has been accused of murdering his wife.

The opening scene of Prey has been taken from the titular scene in Line Of duty 2 in which the Detective is first shown upside down, hanging from his seat belt in an overturned Police van.  The other actors from Police drama such as the hero’s close friend at work is also from Line of Duty 2 and has pretty much the same role.

The Police Inspector in charge, sneering and nasty one minute, ensconced in a white forensics suit and near weeping next, is the same slightly mysterious and suspect head of the Detective Unit in The Tunnel, the British remake of The Bridge 1.

So, back track to x amount of time,  i think it was 3 days earlier before the upturned Police van in which our hero Detective is dangling…

There is a particularly gruesome find (when are they any other) of a body deep in a field in what appears to be a moor in Yorkshire which turns out to be a missing gangster from back in the day.  Well it was either him or an associate I am afraid my attention was wandering .  As in wondering whether i had the patience to stick with this in seriousness or whether i might watch Prey in some kind of half amusement and accept its spoof-like nature.

Anyway, of course this gangster was a very bad man and he was so back in the day that all and i mean all of the files on him are unaccountably stored on just two lonely floppy discs.  Our hero has to get an old computer tower down from the loft to access the disc.  Just the sort of thing you keep in your loft.

In between all this we are bored with the original beginning of how hero Detective goes out for a drink with his best/ bezzie mate Copper, they get drunk, his mate falls over and breaks his right wrist.  Remember this.

Whilst the Detective is waiting with his mate as he lies on a hospital bed (just for a broken wrist which seems a bit unlikely in casualty) the mate waxes less then lyrically about his life, whether he could cope with having children.  Boringly on and on.  However we have to pay attention since this scene is obviously there for a reason.

 Suffice to say,  the dopey looking best mate of the Detective is the same guy from Line Of Duty Two.  Without giving away Line of Duty 2 for those who haven’t seen it, for those who have, like me: this meant that i immediately suspect  (best) bezzie mate of being the mysterious new lover mentioned by the Detective’s ex-wife.

Of course she is the ex-wife this being a Police drama and marriage and Police work seem to have become mutually forever exclusive and incompatible.

Unfortunately after this declaration from his ex-wife of a new love in her life, the Detective gets angry, shouts and unwisely punches the wall and makes a hole.  You would think this an unlikely happening in most brick walls however i have seen the evidence that it can  most certainly happen in a lesser type partition wall.

So all this, the shouting and the hole in the wall already is being ticked off mentally by the viewer as inevitable black marks versus the Detective when poor ex-wife (and used to be glamorous gay sergeant from another drama) is brutally murdered.

The murder happens so quickly in the time it takes the Detective to talk to an extremely sinisterly spoken apparition in the form of a witness to the aforementioned gangster’s disappearance.  The Detective meets this wispily long haired sibilantly speaking man in a pub.  He is a famous British actor who always plays the same role.  Of a sinisterly scary man.  With long and wispy hair.

The man signed a statement saying the gangster had left the country and now says that he is not so so sure.  Then the wispily haired man unaccountably threatens the Detective’s family.  At which point the Detective gets very cross and freaked out and leaves the pub.

 The Detective appears to go straight to his ex-wife’s house.  Letting himself in with his key and has a wander around.

Bad news.  The Detective’s wife is on the floor with a large, very large kitchen knife sticking out of her stomach in almost theatrical fashion.  She is still alive and tries to pull the knife out.  As you do.
” No, no!”
 says the Detective and they both grapple with the knife.  Oops.  Fingerprints on the knife now to add to the hole in the wall.  The wall which is thin enough then for the neighbours to have heard the shouting.
(from their previous argument)

We already know the Detective is well and truly screwed.   To make things worse, there is a tiny hand just visible lying on the bottom of the stairs.

In spite of all this tragedy, i still couldn’t take this tableau seriously. Then, having not seen this further awful sight on the stairs, the Detective stumbles out of the house, down a little hillock and into a giant puddle or inexplicable small lake outside the house and brokenly weeps whilst prostate within the water.

Flash forward onto the crime scene that is now the Detective’s house and the nasty head of the Police Unit lady boss is standing staring fixedly at ex-wife on the floor looking weepy.
“She did it!”  i exclaimed to myself rather ridiculously probably.  But hey, it is that kind of show.  Ridiculous.

So all these unfortunate black marks stack up against the Detective and in the shake of a rat’s tail the stone faced Detective in charge of the case decides him guilty of murder.  On the basis of the fingerprints on the knife, the hole in the wall and, as she declares, just knowing that:
 “He did it!”.

Shouting his head off, after weeping impressively in a shocked way and lunging towards the Detective in her questioning of him, doesn’t really help our hero’s case:
I didn’t do it!
“Its OK,” the Detective in charge of his case purrs solicitously,,
“I understand, You felt them slipping away..”
“You had to annihilate them, didn’t you?”

Well no actually, but still, off the Detective goes to prison but into the prison van first.  Unfortunately for him,, the prisoner opposite him in the van somehow miraculously knows who the Detective is and his crime and has a Biro pen. stuffed up his jumper.

Next thing you know, after growling his recognition and knowledge of the Detective’s crime, the other prisoner  stabs the Detective in the chest with the Biro!  “Arrrggggh!”

All hell breaks loose, they fight, the prison van goes over, the Detective saves the lives of both the prisoner and the driver and then stumbles away down the road.  All bloody like with a giant Biro sticking out of his chest!

At first i thought this enormous item sticking out of the Detective’s chest that you see the other prisoner slowly slipping out from the inside of his sleeve was a shank.  Having learnt this form my phase of watching prison documentaries.  (however the prisoner hadn’t been to prison yet)

 Then i reasoned that this object was some part of the prison van.  But no, neither.  It was a bloody Biro.  For some reason i find this funny or maybe it is just the sight of the Detective, wandering around with a Biro sticking out of his chest.  Call me cruel.

So the detective is so damn good at running away from his own Police force whilst being accused of murder its like he took a training course.

Before you can say Jack Robinson, the Detective has hidden cleverly on the corner of a Council estate stairwell ( i forget how he got in) wrenched the gargantuan Biro from his chest, forced his way into an elderly man’s flat and bandaged his big hole in his chest with kitchen towel and electric “gaffer’s tape”.

Then the Detective is off and running again, in a new set of clothes handily nicked from a clothes line on the balcony outside the council flat.  In his incognito pink hooded top he is back to the pub where he met the wispily long haired man and questions the landlord as to where he can find that man. Or his associate.

So off the Detective goes to find the mysterious house at the end of the road, near the lamp-post with the giant dog’s head statue outside.  (don’t ask me)  Inside he finds the house empty and takes the time to phone his remaining son and then the head of the Police Unit, but wait, who is that coming through the door with an object which he proceeds to break up on the cupboard?  With his right hand?

It is too dark to see…

Fisticuffs ensue and the Detective finds himself fighting with a man with a cast on his hand, his left hand.   Oops.

I think i will leave it there.  I have already told too much.  Prey might well improve but for now it is more than faintly ridiculous for me.  It remains a  spoof.  A spoof of each and every Detective drama on the BBC.  Perhaps because it is on ITV?

I probably would have ditched on Prey except for the acting skills of the main Detective and a few others  At least it bowls along fairly merrily and i haven’t felt the urge to check the time to see how much longer it has to go, several times.

Since my patience is wearing wafer thin and time seems to have stood still or at the very least has become over-elastically (and uncomfortably) elongated, as it has when i was watching the second episode of Hinterland.

Ross Kemp-Extreme Worlds PART THREE-Ross Kemp in The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Ross Kemp in the Congo

Nb.  There are some graphic details in this episode.

So this was a heavy duty episode.
Taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  Where Ross starts out from the capital, Doha. There are no commercial flights into or out of the DRC Ross explains, so he has to take military aircraft and a helicopter.

The Congo appears to be lightly patrolled by the forces of the United Nations (U.N) the Congo’s own Police force with machine guns who walk around the streets and markets of the capital and a confusing array and number of independent militias.

The fact that there were no commercial flights in or out was not a good sign.  Right from the beginning of the episode. I found myself repeatedly thinking throughout this episode as i have done in some others: that Ross and his team must have some very good fixers, contacts and organization behind their team.

Not just in the fact of getting clearance to fly on military aircraft and helicopters and an escort by the United Nations (UN) but that walking around some of these areas with a great big camera held by the unseen man behind Ross may well be seen as invasive, rude, judgemental or just plain provocative.  By the people who live there.  We have no idea what their take on Ross and the camera crew could be.

Judging by the extremely glum and stony faces of many of the people filmed here.  Including the children, some of whom crossed their arms defensively, and stared, I did start to wonder.

All in all, it did not seem to be a very welcoming place.  Except for the Minister of Justice who greeted Ross warmly with an official welcome to the prison and seemed a little downcast when Ross didn’t respond in kind.

By then you see, Ross had already met the Doctor of the Hospital in Pazui which was full of hundreds of women who lived there now. All the women had been either mutilated raped or gang raped.  Or all three. One woman had no hands from the wrists down.  They had been chopped off.  Other unspeakable things had been done to their insides.  Acts that one couldn’t even imagine.  Yet someone had thought them up.  So the women had to have corrective surgery.  As did some babies too.

So this is why Ross was already really rather mad before he greeted the Minister of Justice who seemed rather proud to show Ross round the prison.  Yet the minister steadfastly avoided allowing or identifying, to Ross, the actual culprits of the afore mentioned crimes.  Instead allowing a sole interview with a photogenic youth who was guilty of rape and had been imprisoned for life.  However this case was not one carried out en masse, as a member of a militia.

The prison yard was stuffed full of inmates and there were no prison guards. Ross was seated down amongst all the men.  The inmates greeted Ross with a special ululating song and a bit of a dance.  This traditional African welcome. as Ross described it, was repeated by the avowedly murdering and reportedly gang-raping militia Ross went to meet later.  Some of whom looked less than enthusiastic at doing the dance.  It was all most odd and uncomfortable.

The few women in the militia could be seen casting sideways glances to each other and each other’s slowly clapping hands.  Like, how much longer are we gonna have to do this then?  Likewise some of the militia men.

Presumably this dancing business,, whilst possibly well meant and maybe even a hark back to happier halcyon days, in this instance seemed designed to fill in some very uncomfortable explanations and to hopefully shut up the visitor, Ross.  From asking those uncomfortable questions.

Because it became clear that nobody was telling the truth.  The situation was about as clear as mud.  Even though Ross, as always, was  very well informed as to the history of the area and the conflicts thereof.

I was somewhat helped by having read a long and complex article recently describing the recent history of the Congo and its link with the Rwandan genocide.  However, like Ross, i became more confused and surprised at the linking of old enemies with each other into independent militias, the continuing and inexplicable attacks on villages and the practice of gang rape.  These crimes were denied outright by the militia questioned by Ross.

Then there was the local Police in the DRC.   The Police forces in some of the other countries that Ross Kemp has visited in the Extreme World series have described their pay as too low.
(Nb.we also learn that a  high number of Police get killed in those other countries)
A Journalist explains to Ross that the local Police did not get paid much in the Congo either and therefore the practice of:
 “blessings” being received by the Police was commonplace.

“Blessings!” replied Ross somewhat sarcastically to the Journalist who explained this to him, who was wearing a blue England football shirt i felt, especially for his meeting with Ross:
We call these bribes”!.

Ross had not been in a smiling mood ever since his visit to the hospital.

Then there was the U.N, currently being captained by an Indian officer which was interesting because I hadn’t known India was in the United Nations, who policed the area.  The UN forces kindly offered or rather insisted on escorting Ross to one of his destinations in their big armoured car with machine guns.  I think.  However the U.N insisted on taking up the rear:
  “In case anything happened”.

“The rear?” queried Ross:
 “not the front?!  I would really rather prefer it if you were in the front?”!
 he rather uselessly stated.  Uselessly because the UN were not open to suggestions on this point.  I am no military expert however logistically it seemed to me firing large guns from behind someone you’re ostensibly protecting might theoretically hit them too.  But what do i know.  Ross seemed to think so too however.

Unless people were prone to attacking from behind in the Congo?  If so then surely they would just switch to the front, seeing the large UN armoured car?  i give up.

So it went on.  Ross’s visit that is and his search for a man who had been involved in the crimes perpetrated on the women in the hospital.  Eventually Ross was granted such an interview on the agreement to leave the location and identity of the man undisclosed or shown.  It soon transpired that the man had been a child soldier from the age of 11.

As the child soldier now adult talked, filmed from behind and mostly in darkness with just our view of Ross, terse faced and implacably questioning: i was reminded of a Documentary on a particular war-lord i had seen.  In that documentary we also met some of the war-lord’s ex-child soldiers, all grown up now.

Several of those ex-child soldiers in that documentary still semi-adored the war-lord in spite of one of them having no legs after being shot in both legs by the war-lord and then locked in a small room as a punishment.  For what exactly, i forget.  By the time the child soldier was let out of the room both his legs had gone bad. Then his legs were hacked off above his knees by the war lord.

This documentary came back to me when Ross and the grown up child soldier are sitting face to face in the deliberately darkened room, with the orange doors.

The ex-child soldier describes how his training was:
“not of the blackboard kind, it was made up of the cane” and how we:
“followed the command to rape” the purpose of which was:
 “to destroy”.  You don’t say/ no shit Sherlock.

Ross emerges from the building and declares that in all his travels and interview he has met some killers and that the ex-child soldier had:
 “shown no remorse” and that:
 “He would have a bad life ahead of him.”
“His eyes”  Ross says:
 “were those of a killer”.

Like i said, a heavy duty episode. Ross returns to the large and kindly Doctor and his Hospital full of adoring and grateful women.  The Doctor bemoans the lack of Western involvement as negatively compared to Bosnia.
“Is it, do you think, because it is black Africa?” Ross replies.
“I wouldn’t like to guess that”
 the Doctor says:
” but we are all living on the same planet, we are all human beings”
“Yes, we are all human beings” confirms Ross. Yes, we know that.

However who exactly, would any engaging force be fighting?  Presuming that they were not rejected and or accused of Western interference.  Since there was a plethora of different sides involved none of whom seemed willing to tell the truth.  Some of whom were villagers themselves.

It seemed half of the male population were locked up in prison.  The United Nations was already there.  What about the actual government and its own forces?  Nobody asked about that.

There was visible excitement and preparation, a little too visible perhaps (whilst Ross and his crew were there) of the impending anniversary of Congo’s independence from Belgium.  It didn’t seem like they had a lot to celebrate really.

Ross Kemp-Extreme Worlds PART THREE-Ross Kemp in The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Ross Kemp in the Congo

Nb.  There are some graphic details in this episode.

So this was a heavy duty episode.
Taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  Where Ross starts out from the capital, Doha. There are no commercial flights into or out of the DRC Ross explains, so he has to take military aircraft and a helicopter.

The Congo appears to be lightly patrolled by the forces of the United Nations (U.N) the Congo’s own Police force with machine guns who walk around the streets and markets of the capital and a confusing array and number of independent militias.

The fact that there were no commercial flights in or out was not a good sign.  Right from the beginning of the episode. I found myself repeatedly thinking throughout this episode as i have done in some others: that Ross and his team must have some very good fixers, contacts and organization behind their team.

Not just in the fact of getting clearance to fly on military aircraft and helicopters and an escort by the United Nations (UN) but that walking around some of these areas with a great big camera held by the unseen man behind Ross may well be seen as invasive, rude, judgemental or just plain provocative.  By the people who live there.  We have no idea what their take on Ross and the camera crew could be.

Judging by the extremely glum and stony faces of many of the people filmed here.  Including the children, some of whom crossed their arms defensively, and stared, I did start to wonder.

All in all, it did not seem to be a very welcoming place.  Except for the Minister of Justice who greeted Ross warmly with an official welcome to the prison and seemed a little downcast when Ross didn’t respond in kind.

By then you see, Ross had already met the Doctor of the Hospital in Pazui which was full of hundreds of women who lived there now. All the women had been either mutilated raped or gang raped.  Or all three. One woman had no hands from the wrists down.  They had been chopped off.  Other unspeakable things had been done to their insides.  Acts that one couldn’t even imagine.  Yet someone had thought them up.  So the women had to have corrective surgery.  As did some babies too.

So this is why Ross was already really rather mad before he greeted the Minister of Justice who seemed rather proud to show Ross round the prison.  Yet the minister steadfastly avoided allowing or identifying, to Ross, the actual culprits of the afore mentioned crimes.  Instead allowing a sole interview with a photogenic youth who was guilty of rape and had been imprisoned for life.  However this case was not one carried out en masse, as a member of a militia.

The prison yard was stuffed full of inmates and there were no prison guards. Ross was seated down amongst all the men.  The inmates greeted Ross with a special ululating song and a bit of a dance.  This traditional African welcome. as Ross described it, was repeated by the avowedly murdering and reportedly gang-raping militia Ross went to meet later.  Some of whom looked less than enthusiastic at doing the dance.  It was all most odd and uncomfortable.

The few women in the militia could be seen casting sideways glances to each other and each other’s slowly clapping hands.  Like, how much longer are we gonna have to do this then?  Likewise some of the militia men.

Presumably this dancing business,, whilst possibly well meant and maybe even a hark back to happier halcyon days, in this instance seemed designed to fill in some very uncomfortable explanations and to hopefully shut up the visitor, Ross.  From asking those uncomfortable questions.

Because it became clear that nobody was telling the truth.  The situation was about as clear as mud.  Even though Ross, as always, was  very well informed as to the history of the area and the conflicts thereof.

I was somewhat helped by having read a long and complex article recently describing the recent history of the Congo and its link with the Rwandan genocide.  However, like Ross, i became more confused and surprised at the linking of old enemies with each other into independent militias, the continuing and inexplicable attacks on villages and the practice of gang rape.  These crimes were denied outright by the militia questioned by Ross.

Then there was the local Police in the DRC.   The Police forces in some of the other countries that Ross Kemp has visited in the Extreme World series have described their pay as too low.
(Nb.we also learn that a  high number of Police get killed in those other countries)
A Journalist explains to Ross that the local Police did not get paid much in the Congo either and therefore the practice of:
 “blessings” being received by the Police was commonplace.

“Blessings!” replied Ross somewhat sarcastically to the Journalist who explained this to him, who was wearing a blue England football shirt i felt, especially for his meeting with Ross:
We call these bribes”!.

Ross had not been in a smiling mood ever since his visit to the hospital.

Then there was the U.N, currently being captained by an Indian officer which was interesting because I hadn’t known India was in the United Nations, who policed the area.  The UN forces kindly offered or rather insisted on escorting Ross to one of his destinations in their big armoured car with machine guns.  I think.  However the U.N insisted on taking up the rear:
  “In case anything happened”.

“The rear?” queried Ross:
 “not the front?!  I would really rather prefer it if you were in the front?”!
 he rather uselessly stated.  Uselessly because the UN were not open to suggestions on this point.  I am no military expert however logistically it seemed to me firing large guns from behind someone you’re ostensibly protecting might theoretically hit them too.  But what do i know.  Ross seemed to think so too however.

Unless people were prone to attacking from behind in the Congo?  If so then surely they would just switch to the front, seeing the large UN armoured car?  i give up.

So it went on.  Ross’s visit that is and his search for a man who had been involved in the crimes perpetrated on the women in the hospital.  Eventually Ross was granted such an interview on the agreement to leave the location and identity of the man undisclosed or shown.  It soon transpired that the man had been a child soldier from the age of 11.

As the child soldier now adult talked, filmed from behind and mostly in darkness with just our view of Ross, terse faced and implacably questioning: i was reminded of a Documentary on a particular war-lord i had seen.  In that documentary we also met some of the war-lord’s ex-child soldiers, all grown up now.

Several of those ex-child soldiers in that documentary still semi-adored the war-lord in spite of one of them having no legs after being shot in both legs by the war-lord and then locked in a small room as a punishment.  For what exactly, i forget.  By the time the child soldier was let out of the room both his legs had gone bad. Then his legs were hacked off above his knees by the war lord.

This documentary came back to me when Ross and the grown up child soldier are sitting face to face in the deliberately darkened room, with the orange doors.

The ex-child soldier describes how his training was:
“not of the blackboard kind, it was made up of the cane” and how we:
“followed the command to rape” the purpose of which was:
 “to destroy”.  You don’t say/ no shit Sherlock.

Ross emerges from the building and declares that in all his travels and interview he has met some killers and that the ex-child soldier had:
 “shown no remorse” and that:
 “He would have a bad life ahead of him.”
“His eyes”  Ross says:
 “were those of a killer”.

Like i said, a heavy duty episode. Ross returns to the large and kindly Doctor and his Hospital full of adoring and grateful women.  The Doctor bemoans the lack of Western involvement as negatively compared to Bosnia.
“Is it, do you think, because it is black Africa?” Ross replies.
“I wouldn’t like to guess that”
 the Doctor says:
” but we are all living on the same planet, we are all human beings”
“Yes, we are all human beings” confirms Ross. Yes, we know that.

However who exactly, would any engaging force be fighting?  Presuming that they were not rejected and or accused of Western interference.  Since there was a plethora of different sides involved none of whom seemed willing to tell the truth.  Some of whom were villagers themselves.

It seemed half of the male population were locked up in prison.  The United Nations was already there.  What about the actual government and its own forces?  Nobody asked about that.

There was visible excitement and preparation, a little too visible perhaps (whilst Ross and his crew were there) of the impending anniversary of Congo’s independence from Belgium.  It didn’t seem like they had a lot to celebrate really.