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Saturday 20 December 2014

You'll never eat pasta again

INFESTED! LIVING WITH PARASITES (BBC4) INSIDE NO 9 (BBC2)

Anyone who imagined that Tuesday night's dissection of a corpse's hand on BBC2 would be the most disgusting TV spectacle of the week was pointing at the wrong target.

That distinction belongs, hands down as it were, to Infested! Living with Parasites, a programme so revolting it made watching scientists pulling on exposed tendons in order to make dead fingers wiggle feel like a gentle tickle on the belly.

There was plenty here to make you squirm, not least the news that a tapeworm exits its human host's body by wriggling through the bum and sliding down the leg.

Not that it bothered Dr Michael Mosley, the renowned walking science lab. Having treated us to a video tour inside his body in a previous series, Mosley took himself off to Kenya to ingest three cysts from meat infected with the aforementioned parasite.

fatal

But don't worry, he cheerily informed us: his tapeworm of choice was the benign beef tapeworm rather than the frequently fatal pork tapeworm – a great comfort, I'm sure, when you discover a three-foot-long lodger emerging from your bottom.

While Mosley was waiting for his new pet, which looked like pasta, to grow inside his gut, he let a leech feast on his blood and allowed himself to be infested with head lice, though only in the hair on his arm. When it came to catching pubic lice (crabs), however, he generously allowed his production crew to take the hit.

If you could grimace your way through all the yucky stuff – and much of it would challenge the stomach muscles of a cast-iron statue – there was a lot to learn here about how certain parasites can protect us from more dangerous bodily invaders. Leeches, it seems, can help control blood flow during certain kinds of surgery, while research suggests hookworm could help fight Crohn's disease. Fascinating stuff overall, but it will be a long time before I can look at an Italian meal.

After a middling first episode and a mediocre second, Inside No 9, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton's compendium of twisted tales, hit the jackpot this week with Tom & Gerri a creepy story worthy of Tales of the Unexpected and Alfred Hitchcock Presents at their very best.

Tom (Shearsmith) is a bored teacher and aspiring novelist who wants to be "the British Charles Bukowski", while his girlfriend Gerri (Gemma Arterton) is a struggling actress placing a strain on his reserves.

pitiful

When a pitiful homeless man called Migg (Pemberton) finds Tom's wallet and returns it untouched, Tom is guilt-tripped into inviting him in for a quick drink to warm up.

Intrigued by Migg's claim that Bukowski befriended him in New York, Tom lets his visitor spend the night. After a brain-blanking boozing session, it becomes permanent.

Tom begins to go to seed, jacking in his job, growing a beard, alienating Gerri, letting unwashed dishes pile up, and spending his days and nights lazing about with Migg, drinking heavily and playing board games.

Migg, meanwhile, begins to take control. He hides Tom's mail and deletes his phone messages. As Tom disintegrates, Migg prospers, eventually taking over the flat.

At first poignant and funny, and then sinister and unsettling, this delivered two stings in the tail for the price of one. A darkly gleaming gem.

Infested: Living with Parasites HHHII

Inside No 9 HHHHH

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