TV Highlights

Children of Syria

BBC Two - 9pm

Who's in it?

Lyse Doucet, the BBC journalist you're most likely to see embedded in lands destroyed by war, followed the refugee children of Syria in this poignant and heartbreaking film.

In a nutshell

The problem with giant catastrophes – war, famine, floods, whatever – is that after a few days we just tune out. News reports start looking the same: grimly monotonous shots of refugee camps and bulldozed buildings, intercut with interchangeable politicians droning out excuses and warnings. It takes a programme like this, about real people doing regular-type things against monstrous odds, to shake our brains awake again. And anyone who watched this documentary would certainly have been left shaken.

We saw kids scampering around in ravaged streets, and playing marbles in threadbare flats, impossibly cheery and child-like in circumstances you'd think would have aged them prematurely. Of course, they HAVE aged, inside. This became very apparent in the darkly poetic way they spoke about seeing ghosts of dead friends, and there being "no love left in Syria". And some of the stories – like 11-year-old Daad recounting how her parents flung their bodies over her to protect her from shell attacks – were unforgettable.

What's the verdict?

How can a programme be optimistic and doom-laden at exactly the same time? Well, that's what the presence of children will do: no matter how dark the circumstances, the fact they're there at all carries hope for the future. This programme was a celebration of that, if nothing else.

5/5

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07-07-2011