TV review: From Haiti's Ashes, The Paedophile Hunters and Alison Jackson's Review of 2010

What's behind Irish entrepreneur Denis O'Brien's extraordinary philanthropy in Haiti? Guilt
From Haiti's Ashes
From the ashes . . . Haiti's Iron Market has been rebuilt with money from Irish entrepreneur Denis O'Brien. Photograph: Oxford Film & TV/BBC
From the ashes . . . Haiti's Iron Market has been rebuilt with money from Irish entrepreneur Denis O'Brien. Photograph: Oxford Film & TV/BBC
Sam Wollaston
Mon 31 Jan 2011 02.59 EST

I remember the Iron Market in Port-au-Prince, from a holiday in Haiti a long time ago. The bazaar was one of the few memorable buildings in the capital. Its clock tower made it look more like a railway station than a market. Built in 1889 in France, it was originally intended as a railway station for Cairo, some people said, but ended up in Haiti by mistake. Much as I did. Inside, it was an exciting place full of people and noise, trade on a grand scale, where you could by anything from a pineapple to voodoo paraphernalia.

Then, in the earthquake last year, the market fell down. The ancient metal buckled, the concrete roof caved in, many were killed. Enter an unlikely saviour: Father Ted. No, it's not just because he's Irish. Billionaire mobile phone entrepreneur Denis O'Brien is a bit like Ted, with thick, greying hair. And he tries to do the right thing, but is constantly exasperated by the inadequacies of those around him.

Anyway, From Haiti's Ashes (BBC2, Saturday) tells the story of how O'Brien got the market up and running again. It's an excellent one. While the rest of the country lay in rubble – crippled by homelessness on a brutal scale, political unrest, cholera, chaos, crime, bad leadership, no leadership – the market slowly rose again from the ashes, just as it says on the tin. Not so slowly actually, that's not how O'Brien operates. He makes things happen, yesterday. It's easier when you're a billionaire. Doors open, even closed airports open, presidents take your call, Bill Clinton's your best mate. And teams of yes-people scuttle around trying to keep you happy. Even when nothing is happening, they make it look as if things are happening.

All the money for the market comes from O'Brien's own pocket. So what's the motivation for what seems to be such extraordinary philanthropy? A concern for how he's remembered, and most of all, guilt. O'Brien made his vast wealth out of the very poor. He actually compares himself to the conquistadores. But they were robbers. "I hope when I die nobody will say I'm a robber," he says. "I sometimes feel guilty, the amount of money we make in poor countries. For that reason, you got to turn that guilt into something that's good." See? Driven by guilt, too. He is Father Ted.

The Paedophile Hunters (BBC2, Sunday) is not To Catch a Predator, which is probably a good thing. TCAP, if you're not familiar with it, is an extraordinary idea – a US reality show that involves the entrapment of men who are searching for sex with people who are under the age of consent. They turn up somewhere, the honey trap disappears, a camera crew jumps out, followed by the police. Gotcha. I don't think it's currently on, but you can see it on YouTube – worth it just to witness what depths television has sunk to.

The Paedophile Hunters, a This World film, is a more traditional documentary. We're following officers from the US organisation ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), who go after American child abusers overseas. We're looking at Cambodia, where a former boy soldier with the Khmer Rouge helps the Americans track down predatory sex tourists.

It's harrowing and shocking – not just because of the abuse that goes on, but because of the families who sell their own children into the trade. It's also a proper documentary, in that it reports on events rather than creates them. There must be something wrong with To Catch a Predator, because it's hard not to feel some sympathy for the predators themselves. Not here.

Alison Jackson does those looky-likey celebrity pictures that were quite amusing once but have become less so, mainly through overfamiliarity. This – Alison Jackson's Review of 2010 (Sky Arts 1, Saturday) – is her take on last year, using news footage mixed with her own "satirical reconstructions" of what she imagines was going on behind the scenes, using lookalikes, of course, but blurred a bit, presumably because the lookalikes aren't lookexactlylikes.

The sketches aren't clever or witty enough – someone who looks not very much like Gordon Brown has a bit of a temper on him, Dave Cameron and Nick Clegg are a couple of posh twats (really?). The whole idea feels tired. Time for a new trick, maybe.

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