CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night's TV

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Sneering Shamima wants second chance that Isis victims never had

The Shamima Begum Story 

Rating: **


Rating: * 

The 22 people murdered by Isis in the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, ten of them under 20 years old and the youngest just eight, will not get a second chance.

Neither will the 90 concert-goers at the 2015 Bataclan theatre atrocity in Paris, nor the 86 people killed on Bastille Day the following year when a terrorist ploughed a truck into crowds on the promenade in Nice. 

Yet the BBC is intent on airing the arguments for and against a second chance for Shamima Begum, the woman who left her family home in east London to join Isis in Syria, aged 15.

Even Begum, now 23, cannot understand why the broadcaster is taking such an interest. 

‘What is there to obsess over?’ she asked, in The Shamima Begum Story (BBC2). ‘We went to Isis and that was it.’

Begum says she had to flee Britain because her family wanted a ‘loose and immoral’ life for her

There seems to be a Left-wing delusion that allowing her to return to the UK will demonstrate some sort of moral righteousness. 

To achieve this, her supporters paint her as the victim of people traffickers, brainwashers, groomers and propaganda, and traumatised by an abusive marriage.

It is undeniably true that she has lost three children in infancy, and spent the past four years in the squalor of the Al-Hawl detention camp in Kurdistan. 

But as Tim Loughton, a Tory MP on the Home Affairs Select Committee, pointed out, she left Britain to join ‘people who are against everything that we stand for and want to kill us. That’s as bad as it gets.’

Begum’s numerous interviews for this documentary and the BBC podcast that accompanies it have enabled her to develop a polished persona on camera. 

Rhyming slang of the night:

Bradley and Barney Walsh visited the ‘Land of the Strays’ in Costa Rica, home to 2,000 dogs, on Breaking Dad (ITV). Brad worried about stepping in mess with his ‘brand new Glorias’. It took me a minute, but that’s Gloria Gaynors . . . trainers! 

No longer the sullen, contemptuous teenager of her first encounters with journalists, she now dresses in Western clothes, with sunglasses perched on her head.

But she cannot hide the remnants of that surly arrogance which made her despise Britain and her upbringing. 

Begum says she had to flee Britain because her family wanted a ‘loose and immoral’ life for her, that she ‘didn’t feel accepted by society because of racism’, and that she joined Isis because ‘I wanted to be loved, because I felt I was not loved’.

News footage of her sister, pleading tearfully for her return, gave the lie to that — but Begum was quite capable of proving herself a liar, without help from anyone. 

She contradicted herself repeatedly in interviews, and claimed she was unaware of Isis atrocities before she arrived in Syria — yet also said ‘it didn’t faze me’ when, following public executions, ‘I saw the beheaded heads in bins’.

The camera closed in on her eyes and mouth, which opened in a faint sneer, as she listened to the questions. 

Much of the time, her face was impassive, but she came alive when she remembered moments when people seemed impressed with her, or recalled perceived slights and injustices from years ago.

There’s no doubt that her life, with the loss of her three children, has been one of medieval brutality. But isn’t that exactly what Isis stood for?

The extreme consequences of teenage stupidity were also on show in Consent (C4), a dreadful one-off drama about sexual abuse among students at a private school.

Reeking of class resentment, it told the story of a scholarship girl from a black working-class home, who was raped at a party. 

The school closed ranks with the coke-snorting poshos, and her attacker was heading to Oxbridge until one rich boy, marginally less obnoxious than the rest, decided to give evidence.

The whole thing felt like a bizarrely seedy information video for sixth formers. Almost unwatchable.

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