Ross Kemp-Extreme Worlds
Sky 2 Channel 123 on Virgin TV
I have mentioned this series briefly before, at the bottom of Donal McIntyre’s Dangerous Towns. Donal having retired from his series.
So Ross Kemp picks up the baton of this type of investigative documentary and does it very well indeed. Each episode is named after a town or country and the subject may be specific as in Extreme world UK which i previously mentioned in which Ross tackles the trafficking of young girls into the UK. Ross Kemp-Ireland is about sectarianism in Ireland.
Extreme worlds-Lebanon is about sectarianism in Lebanon. Extreme world Papua New Guinea was about inter-tribal conflict. & Las Vegas was about the two sides of the city, rich and poor. I am starting to see a theme here.
Veteran watchers of Eastenders, a long running soap opera in the UK set in a mythical square in the deep East end of London may well know Ross Kemp as an eponymous hard man, Grant. Grant tended to act first and never asked questions later.
Ross Kemp seems to have become associated with this hard man character in people’s minds in spite of having a fairly well spoken accent and possibly a public (as in private) school background. However Ross seems very knowledgeable about guns and their calibre and whether the gun is automatic and just how big a hole they are capable of producing in a victim’s chest.
Ross has also done series where he shadowed troops and the S.A.S . So maybe this is where he learnt all about guns or perhaps he has been in the army himself. No matter, his persona as hard man with military knowledge and bearing is established. We all believe it. To me Ross Kemp is a bit like a more realistic and enquiring, modern day James Bond.
The best thing about Ross Kemp, well apart from his lovely royal blue favourite shirt, for a fan of documentaries like me is his admirable objectivity.
You see a weird thing has happened lately with documentaries: whether historical or present day. The presenter is constantly injecting their own personal or political and or post-historical revisionist opinion into things.
Thankfully scientific, archaeological and anthropological documentaries seem to be mostly free of this politically correct revisionism or just plain personal slant from the presenter.
However it is shocking to see historical documentaries constantly interrupted by post-historical 21st century judgement and revisionism. No: x, y or z did not happen because of a concept or ideology that wasn’t invented or around then! This is in fact, attempting to rewrite history in a way for the next generation.
Such presenters seem to have forgotten that the whole point of a documentary is to document. Without judgement. Or at least make and state your bias clearly.
My point is that Ross Kemp mostly avoids this insidious trend throughout. Confining himself to his summation of the situation right at the very end instead. Making it clear and separate from the rest.
Wherever Ross Kemp goes, he manages to make walking down an anonymous road or alleyway eventful. We just watch him walk. Then walk some more. Then drive.
However Ross makes this silent walking interesting to watch. Perhaps it is my fondness for his lovely blue shirt. I have seen Ross walk so much i have even queried to myself whether the label on the back of his jeans is Levi, maybe the501’s, i found myself musing at an entirely different and later time. Do they still make 501’s?
None of it matters because labels are immaterial and inconsequential anyway to Ross as he walks interestingly along and meets and talks to random people and drives to arranged interviews explaining things as he goes.
Ross Kemp explains things really simply which i like and is not swayed by the arguments of either side that he meets. Merely asking sensible questions and sometimes posing rhetorical points or positing scenarios to his interviewees.
It is only at the end, in his summation that Ross will give something nearing an opinion. When one young family group of brothers in down-town Las Vegas have described their life of carrying guns and shooting people as the life that has chosen us, Ross Kemp gently reverses this statement by saying it is their chosen life right at the end.
Most recently, in Ross Kemp’s latest series of Extreme Worlds, Ross has achieved some notoriety and the description or appellation of tough. He has been written about in these terms due to the now famous or infamous Papua New Guinea episode. In which Ross goes to meet two warring tribes, engaged in an inexplicable and ongoing conflict with another tribe that has been going on for many years. For no apparent reason that Ross can uncover, even after patient and admirably neutral and polite questioning.
Both tribes regularly clash and kill each other in full scale battles halfway along a bridge. These battles, and the numbers of casualties are talked about proudly by both sides. Possibly the whole thing was territory related. The justification was given that it was historical and traditional to be at war with the other tribe.
There was also a rather concerning journey made in the middle of the night into the badlands so to speak. Where Ross is driven by some kind of venerated holy sort of man who can assure then both safe passage through the area since he knows everyone.
During this journey, which took five hours and on reflection i wonder why it had to be taken in the dark exactly, the truck they were in began slipping in the mud. The reformed bad guy/ supposed holy man got out to take the pressure in the tyres down and Ross got a fright from a guy coming up behind him who was luckily only taking a leak.
Lined along the road at various points were groups of men that Ross’s companion called rather underwhelmingly, rascals.
The rascals were apparently just hanging out hoping to waylay, raid and it seemed like do worse, to travellers passing through.
The next day Ross goes to meet the leader of one of the warring tribes and there follows the now infamous incident which earned Ross the appellation of tough.
I could have told him things were about to get iffy when the reformed rascal told Ross to go on up ahead, without him.
Ross enters a small clearing at the top of the hill and comes upon a group of men, one of whom is blacked up. The leader of the men starts blathering on about how they attack and kill people because the government doesn’t give them enough services. The next thing you know the men are all pointing large rifles at the ever implacably questioning Ross.
How Ross deals with having several long gun barrels in his face is both brave and inspired, I would certainly not have thought of it as a line of action. But like i said, Ross Kemp is the James Bond of documentaries. In fact he is better than James Bond because he keeps his cool, turns on his heels and marches doughtily down the hill. Leaving the posturing plonkers behind. Only admitting to camera that he is really rather angry about it.
What Ross does with the gun barrels could be said to be the gun equivalent of turning the other cheek. Or rifle.
I was worried for Ross more when he was standing bang in the middle of a vacant lot of land in Lebanon. Across which Sunni and Shia neighbours living in opposite blocks from each other took pot shots at each other’s families. All day.
Ross was calmly evincing the situation as always until finally his fixer barked a peremptory order for Ross to get the hell back a bit. Or words to that effect.
So far I have seen Ross Kemp Extreme World in Rio in Brazil, Lebanon, Ireland, UK and Las Vegas.
The new series of Ross Kemp Extreme Worlds starts on Sunday, 16th March 2014 and will be about Karachi.
Monday 17th March will be Venezuela, Tuesday 18th March will be UK, then Sunday 24th March is listed confusingly as Venezuela, Monday 24th March as Marseille, and Tuesday 25th March as Karachi. These listings may be incorrect or those repeated are just repeats.