Tuesday, 8 April 2008


One would think that after watching a one hour program on the subject of mental illness that the average viewer would not be left hankering for more. Yet that is precisely what Andrew Denton managed to achieve last night (April 7, 2008) with his "Enough Rope" special "Angels and Demons".

One of the most invigorating, eye-opening and brilliantly presented programs Denton has done to date,
"Angels and Demons" avoided the mawkish sentimentality, cheap exploitative sensationalism, and the usual dreary parade of "expert" talking heads typical of so much of what is laughably called "current affairs" or "topical" television these days and, in doing so, came up with something truly special.

Whether speaking to those afflicted with mental illness or those entrusted with the care of sufferers, not once did Denton stoop to an attitude of patronising indulgence, treating all he spoke to and those who spoke to him as individuals in their own right; not "special", simply people whose day to day reality may be different from our own, but is still a reality nonetheless, and a perfectly valid one at that. This approach yielded an insight and understanding that provoked, in this viewer at least, not sympathy or sadness, but a sense of wonder and admiration for those men and women, both young and old, who daily and for much of their lives, grapple with difficulties that make most of the things the rest of us whine about on a regular basis seem the truly petty and trivial irritants that they really are.

Here was a program deserving of every accolade, every citation and superlative that may conceivably be laid before it. I'm damned if I know how Denton does it, but by Christ he does it well and has done it well for many a year now. However, with
"Angels and Demons", I feel that Denton has truly earned the mantle of Australia's finest ever media presenter and interviewer, and, possibly, one of the finest in the western world.

I doubt that even Michael Parkinson would disagree with that,
having once said to Denton "I mean ... to try and gauge a conversation and to listen so that you can actually get away from that which you planned, if it's interesting enough. And that's the biggest lesson to learn I think, as an interviewer, as you know, as you demonstrate."

From 1969, Karen Dalton “It Hurts Me Too”

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