The Great British Bake Off; Ade Adepitan: Journey of My Lifetime; Under the Dome – review

The Bake Off is back and dangerous. And Ade Adepitan's Nigerian journey was essential viewing
Great British Bake Off
Flagging a little… Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. Photograph: Des Willie/BBC/Love Productions
Flagging a little… Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. Photograph: Des Willie/BBC/Love Productions
Euan Ferguson
Sat 24 Aug 2013 13.00 EDT

The Great British Bake Off (BBC2) | iPlayer

Ade Adepitan: Journey of My Lifetime (C4) | 4OD

Under the Dome (C5) | Demand 5

Any doubts over whether The Great British Bake Off, now a mere four series in, is anything less than Our Entire Country, Encapsulated (unless you're a chippy Scot, or a randy Welsho, or a problem Irish) was dispelled this week by some information. There is, apparently, a drinking game associated with it, and it's a huge hit on Facebook and Twitter. Suggestions are along the lines of "Drink one finger for every proud relative present" and "Drink two fingers for every use of the word 'gloopy'".

You need venture no further, you damned sociologists, in attempting to skewer "Britain: 2013. Whither?" than realising that there is a significant part of the population which spends Tuesday nights, mid-August onwards, essentially off its tits on the sofa, watching marginal-OCD people rub crumbs. Thus avoiding cooking anything themselves.

Ade Adepitan
Ade Adepitan (centre) reported on rising polio outbreaks in Nigeria.

Even Churchill didn't have a drinking game devoted to him. But, 70 years on from his finest hour, we are, apparently, still a country possessed of a self-deprecating humour (Mel and Sue are still great… "deliciousness"… "big dash of precision engineering"… "enough potential to go to outer space"…), and irony, and many tears, and many crumbs. A voiceover announced, with cloying and sonorous insincerity, "Ruby's creme patisserie has just… curdled", in tones redolent of Pericles' address to the Athenians. The eventual "result", ie the first evictee, was announced by Mel and Sue with the traditional silent pause. Thirteen whole seconds. I counted them out in every heartbeat, knowing I wouldn't get any of them back. Small galaxies collapsed. Outed was someone called Toby: nice enough but not worth the pause, the heartbeats, the galaxies.

Were we in wartime, this would be a fillip. But we're not: we're in a pause, a woeful hiatus, before things get interesting again. We're hogtied to worries about online bullying and exam results, and I just tragically caught the tail-end of an apparently endless TV discussion about David Cameron's favourite polo shirt (tailoring and colour and style of). Sociologists: good luck with skewering this summer.

Ade Adepitan was far more important. His programme, Journey of My Lifetime, promised little, containing as it did the word "journey". But I gave it a shot, as I like him a lot – not least for having introduced me, via Desert Island Discs, to Minnie Riperton's The Edge of a Dream.

This was the must-see of the week. Ade (Ah-Dee, if it helps you), a British Paralympian who was born with polio, decided to go back to his homeland of Nigeria. Poliomyelitis, to give it its proper name, was almost wiped out in the 50s thanks to urgent work by various Scandinavians and Americans, all of whom arrived with pens leaking copiously into top shirt-pockets, and left with the quiet understanding that they had created one big fat singing antidote, and that no one need ever be crippled by polio. Ever again. Desperately lovely unsung people.

Except Pakistan is still big on its anti-antidotes. Afghanistan too. Which means children still grow up crippled; twig limbs, on skateboards. Lacking only legs. And, as is the case with most of the skateboards, wheels. Planks, then, to shimmy about on, in the dust.

And bizarrely enough, for all its other rich worldliness, Nigeria is still big on its anti-antidotes too. Boko Haram, an Islamist group far too prevalent in the north of the country, believes that the "white witch" is using its injections to sterilise all Muslim children (rather than enable them to have, for instance, legs). Ade didn't believe that. Nor did the feisty local TV gal, also a polio victim, whose mother, it turned out, had prayed for her daughter's death. Nigerian polio epidemics are increasing exponentially.

Back home in London, Ade was relaxed, happy, knackered. Then he read online about nine aid workers, who had been trying to inoculate against polio, having been murdered by Boko Haram. "I feel sick," he said. So did I. All vaccinations are currently suspended.

I remember, a few years ago, a friend, the sister of an ex, the lovely Charlie, wandering back into the beer garden after a long time at the bar. "What happened?" I chirped/burped (it was back in my drinking days). "I was in serious danger," she replied. "I was in serious danger of catching stupid." She had been caught simultaneously by a climate-change denier and a woman who believed the Twin Towers hadn't fallen: it was all holographed by Jews. In northern Nigeria, today, they're in danger of catching stupid. I don't know if this is Ade Adepitan's favoured website, but seems to be doing a decent job.

Under dome
Stephen King's Under the Dome. Photograph: Best Possible Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment

Under the Dome, the long-awaited filming of Stephen King's not-quite-gripping novel, featured Dean Norris, last viewed as Hank in the sublime Breaking Bad. That should have been recommendation enough. Sadly, no. Everyone, every single actor, performed as if in a 50s B-movie with a character arc that consisted solely of the words: "first chump to see the monster".

Channel 4's Top Boy was, bizarrely, witty. Set in an ugly bit of east London (as if there's any other kind), it leapt beyond. I don't have room to review it at the moment: proper review next week. But trust me: it's wholly good.

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