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Thursday 16 August 2018

More from Four Rooms please

four rooms (ch4) wikileaks: the secret life of a superpower (bbc2)

"Will Graham get first dibs on Marsha's dildo?" It's not the type of question you hear being asked just any old Wednesday night at 8pm.

Then again, Four Rooms, which roared back with a bang, isn't just any old show.

For one thing, it's 10 times more fun than Dragons' Den, which it superficially resembles. Mind you, so is picking encrusted wax from your ear.

You might remember the drill from last year: four entertainingly egomaniacal antique dealers (Jeff Salmon, Gordon Watson, Andrew Lamberty and new female addition Celia Sawyer) sit in four separate rooms and haggle to buy curios people have brought in.

None of them knows in what order they're being pitched to, so the offers can vary wildly. The seller could walk away from a good offer, expecting to get more from the dealer in the next room, and end up with less -- or nothing at all.

But back to Marsha, who wanted £4,000 for her Victorian sex toy, a basic stainless steel model, six inches long (apparently, you could also buy steam-powered versions).

It had its own patent certificate, so you knew where it came from, even if you didn't know where it had been.

Celia offered her £600. "I wouldn't even consider that," scoffed Marsha. "There's a little bit of meat left on the bone," said Celia, rising to £1,200. "Tasty meat on the bone but not quite enough," decided Marsha, warming to the naughty talk.

"It doesn't do it for me," declared Andrew (ooh, matron!), who offered £100, which was still £70 more than Jeff was prepared to part with. "Oh come one, don't be insulting," said Celia, "we can't play footsie that way!"

Jeff eventually worked himself up to £1,111.11p, and sealed it with a kiss. Deal done. Celia was a little crushed, though, to learn Gordon, who she didn't see, would have paid £3,000. "I have the largest collection of dildos in Belgium," he proudly declared. That seems fitting, somehow.

This was a cracking episode all round. A couple looked for a grand for a painting signed by Marlon Brando and ended up getting six. A chap who owned composer Bernard Hermann's original handwritten score for Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, which he'd failed to sell for £30,000 at auction, walked away from Jeff's top bid, £50,000, and went home empty-handed.

"I'm here to play the game," announced a bloke called Simon, who had a set of Francis Bacon's paintbrushes to sell, "and I intend to play it instinctually." In other words, he wasn't going to name a price.

Simon, a 24-carat gobsh*te, has the infuriating habit of laughing at everything. It annoyed Jeff, who likes to be the biggest tool in the box. "How do you spell 'b******s'? Get out -- and don't shake my hand!"

"Twenty is my bottom price," said Gordon, who eventually went to £17,500. Simon accepted. "I would actually like YOU to have it," he said. Thank God they weren't talking about the dildo.

In part one of the excellent Wikileaks: The Secret Life of a Superpower, Richard Bilton forensically examined the shattering ramifications of Julian Assange's whistleblowing website publishing 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables.

Aside from the gossipy, embarrassing indiscretions that forced Hillary Clinton to roam the globe apologising to everyone from David Cameron (described as lacking experience and vision) to the King of Saudi Arabia (a chain-smoking, 92-year-old Viagra addict, apparently), the self-appointed World's Policeman emerged looking like a Keystone Kop, and one that put self-interest ahead of human rights.

Guantanamo Bay prisoners were dumped back into Tunisia to maintain good relations, in the knowledge they'd be tortured. The US propped up the rancidly corrupt regime of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak (his obscenely wealthy daughter's pet tiger was fed four chickens a day while people were starving in the streets) and never saw the revolution coming. Utterly shocking.



four rooms HHHII wikileaks: the secret life of a superpower HHHII

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