The Null Device
The BBC's "edgy", yoof-oriented BBC Three channel, has revealed six new drama series due to be screened later this year:
Being Human, from Touchpaper TV and Doctor Who writer Toby Whithouse, follows three co-habiting flatmates. One is a vampire, one is a ghost and the other a werewolf.
Mrs Inbetweeny tells the story of siblings who are brought up by their pre-op transsexual aunt Emma from America.
Phoo Action is a kung fu live action drama set in 2012 London, which is in the grip of mutant criminals. Terry Phoo and Whitey Action - the first a Buddhist cop and the second an anarchist - step in to save the day.
W10 LDN, from Noel Clarke and Kudos, looks at the lives led by a group of young teenagers on a housing estate in West London.The last one sounds like they're trying to jump on the Lily Allen cool-street-hip-hop bandwagon, which could possibly sell. But Phoo Action?
A harrowing account of the life of an escapee from a North Korean gulag, a particularly brutal one reserved for those who fought for the south and their descendants:
Shin, now 24, was a political prisoner by birth. From the day he was born in 1982 in Camp No. 14 in Kaechon until he escaped in 2005, Shin had known no other life. Guards beat children, tortured grandparents and, in cases like Shin's, executed family members. But Shin said it did not occur to him to hate the authorities. He assumed everyone lived this way.
Shin "is a living example of the most brutal form of human rights abuse," said Yoon Yeo Sang, president of Database Center for North Korean Human Rights in Seoul, where Shin is taking temporary shelter. "He comes from a place where people are deprived of their ability to have the most basic human feelings, such as love, hatred and even a sense of being sad or mistreated."
During the interrogations he learned for the first time that his father's family belonged to a "hostile class" - a category that entailed punishment over three generations - because his uncles had collaborated with the South Korean Army during the Korean War.In other news from the Glorious People's Democracy that is North Korea, the government there has banned karaoke bars, to "prevent the ideological and cultural permeation of anti-socialism". The surprising thing is that they had karaoke bars in the first place.
In Poland, where the mainstream culture is dominated by a conservative, nationalistic monoculture, more often than not with an anti-Semitic streak, rebels, refuseniks and rootless cosmopolitanists are embracing all things Jewish. Klezmer bands (comprised mostly of non-Jewish musicians) are forming everywhere, people are taking classes in everything from Hasidic dancing to Hebrew calligraphy, and replicas of 1930s-vintage Jewish merchants' signs are cropping up all over Krakow streets like some kind of theme park:
Interest in Jewish culture became an identifying factor for people unhappy with the status quo and looking for ways to rebel, whether against the government or their parents.
"The word 'Jew' still cuts conversation at the dinner table," Gebert said. "People freeze."
The revival of Jewish culture is, in its way, a progressive counterpoint to a conservative nationalist strain in Polish politics that still espouses anti-Semitic views. Some people see it as a generation's effort to rise above the country's dark past in order to convincingly condemn it.Not everybody's pleased with this:
Many Jews are offended by the commercialization of their culture in a country almost universally associated with its near annihilation.
Others argue that there is something deeper taking place in Poland as the country heals from the double wounds of Nazi and communist domination. "There is commercialism, but that is foam on the surface," Gebert said. "This is one of the deepest ethical transformations that our country is undergoing.Perhaps we can expect to see a new wave of klezmer-punk bands emerging from Krakow any day now?