Heart, health, pocketbook and carnage

Criminal Minds or the 6pm news?
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Criminal Minds or the 6pm news?

TUNNEL VISION: As a young reporter I was taught to focus on stories about heart, health and pocketbook.

Cynical old chief reporters would whack parts of the body that symbolised emotions, heart and lungs, and where you kept your wallet. I often wondered why the weather wasn't included, but it meant the old guy had to put his fag down and walk outside to feel the wind and rain.

Later conflict and grievance took priority. He should have whacked his fist. Today, violence and anarchy rule the 6pm bulletins and viewers are left confused as to whether they're watching Criminal Minds or the news.

But every so often the clouds part and, in the holiday line-up of repeats, features on romance, health and how to save money appear out of the sock drawer. We have Holby City, Casualty and Australia's Cheapest Weddings, although the Divorce box set is as close as you get to affairs of the heart.

Into this mix comes Medical Mysteries (TV2, Tuesdays). Based on the fact that everyone has a personal story about an undiagnosed hemorrhoid, infected toenail or their tummy button has popped out again, the British series relates stories about people whose symptoms baffle medical specialists.

Tuesday's episode featured Cassie, a young woman who suffered from body odour, Linda, who couldn't breathe when she swam and Cameron, described as a "time bomb about to explode".

Cassie, a musician and part-time waitress, had BO that resembled rotting fish. She didn't appreciate people volunteering to be her official sniffers, but instead took herself off to a smell specialist. He gave her a treatment plan and put her on an extensive diet. It's proving more successful than Rexona or Dove.

Linda was diagnosed with swimming-induced pulmonary edema, which meant she could only safely complete the swimming leg of a triathlon in the bath while Cameron, who exhibited aggression and body contortions, sought medical help in the United States. His specialist identified something wrong with his immune system. He prepared an action plan and recommended a tonsillectomy.

The programme claims that one person in 17 suffers from a rare disease, so this intriguing TV series could last until the next millennium. It puts my allergic reaction to the Kardashians to shame.

It was reported 56 years ago that Anthony Armstrong-Jones gave Princess Margaret a Fiat as a wedding gift. It stood for First In After Townsend. It may not be true, but Margaret's love for Group Captain Peter Townsend is certainly real.

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In the final episode of Netflix's magnificent series The Crown, which covers the era from Edward's abdication to the Queen's early years, everyone including Prime Minister Eden, a brouhaha of bishops, the Royal Marriages Act and Elizabeth herself stood in the way of Margaret marrying Group Captain Peter Townsend, a divorcee.

A second series is planned for November but, in the meantime, the DVD isn't too far away from retailers, video shops and Fiat distributors.

Apart from British variety shows, TV coverage has been grim, but tucked away last Sunday was Barry Humphries' Flashbacks (Sky 73). Barry, Dame Edna and Sir Les looked back on Australia in the 1960s and the last hurrah for men's hats. He could have been talking about New Zealand.

The episode covered micro mini skirts, which were called breeches of promise, long hair, sex, drugs and rock 'n roll, the Vietnam war, slide evenings, where boring relatives showed us their visit to the Swiss Alps, and transsexuals who were condemned by Barry, dressed as Dame Edna.

It was a delightful snapshot of 50 years ago. One shuddering recollection was his description of homes at the height of fashion that "smelt like ashtrays". Thank God it's a memory.

In a new series of American Crime (TV One, Mondays), Kevin Blaine, a student at Leyland Academy, is drugged and violated. Shots of his distressed state are distributed around the school. When principal Leslie Graham only agrees to disciplinary action, Taylor's mother isn't satisfied. She rings the police to report a rape.

It's a promising start to a gripping series. It's in a stupid late night slot, but worth another skim mocha to keep the eyes open.

 - Stuff

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