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To be honest, other people's history is never as fascinating as that of one's own country, especially when it's the kind of history where the British are held up as the villains.

And Irish Republican Ronan Bennett, who famously declared that he would not turn the Omagh bombers in to the authorities even if he knew who they were, is not about to give us the benefit of any available doubt in Rebel Heart, his story of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland.

There's more than a hint of cultural cringe - even masochism - in the BBC's decision to choose this particular subject and this particular author for a blockbusting Sunday night drama on its main channel.

Perhaps the only consolation for licence-payers is that money from the Irish Government and the European Union is behind it, so the entire cost did not come out of our pockets.

Last night's opening episode (of four) lasted 50 minutes: for 40 of them the noise of battle filled the screen, leaving little scope for distinguishing who was who among the Irish rebels, or to expand on the politics of Britain and Ireland at the time.

We saw the opening stages of the rebellion through the eyes of a young middle-class man, Ernie Coyne, played as an innocent by James D'Arcy. Among the real-life characters appearing in the cast list, including Michael Collins (Brendan Coyle), Patrick Pearse (Frank McCusker) and James Connolly (Bill Paterson), it was hard to tell whether Coyne was fact or fiction.

At any rate, he served the useful purpose of representing the idealism of men (and a couple of bloodthirsty women) who were far less starry-eyed than he about an independent Ireland or the chances of the rebellion succeeding in dislodging the British. He also acted as a runner between groups of Republicans fighting in different parts of Dublin, thus shedding some light - but not much - on the overall strategic situation in the city during the four days of fighting.

As Ronan Bennett presented it, the gallant Irish rebels gave the British Army a hell of a pasting despite being outnumbered and outgunned. The Army, inevitably, were shown as a bunch of automatons: at one point three soldiers had to be shot while marching in a column before their officer shouted: 'Take cover!' They also shot and brutally beat their captives.

Statistics (not mentioned in Rebel Heart) indicate there is some truth in Bennett's picture, with 100 British soldiers killed in four days. But 450 Republicans also died, and an unknown number were wounded.

After the surrender of the main rebel stronghold in the General Post Office, the seven signatories to a proclamation of independence were executed - a catastrophic political error - along with all the military commandants save one; the American-born Eamon De Valera.

Rebel Heart showed five executions, the wounded Connolly's being particularly macabre as he had to sit in a chair to face the firing squad.

Coyne, the young patriot, escaped the death penalty but was imprisoned (as were 160 others) after refusing to be paroled on condition that he never again involved himself with the enemies of the Crown.

Rebel Heart is a comic strip view of history guaranteed further to lift the spirits of today's Irish Republicans, already exulting in a string of easy victories in pursuit of the same cause as their predecessors 80-odd years ago - a united Ireland.

Lynda La Plante's trademark gore and brutality, with murder victims lingeringly posed to allow a view of their gruesome injuries from every angle, made Mind Games an unpleasant way to spend two hours with ITV on Saturday.

This crime drama had all the ingredients needed to frighten the viewer but saved its few scary moments until the final 20 minutes. Even then it managed just one spine-chilling instant of shock-horror - and that proved a false alarm.

The shortage of terrifying moments can always be blamed on director Richard Standeven, though the script he had to work with displayed more interest in the advance of forensic science than in the interplay of human emotions.

What can be said, however, is that La Plante has devised an interesting new character in crime profiler Frances O'Neil, a Detective Inspector in the Metropolitan Police and a former nun.

O'Neil, played by the skilful Fiona Shaw, polished her art in online computer exchanges with an American profiler, but found it hard to convince the hard-boiled murder squad led by Finbar Lynch's DCI Chris Medwynter of the usefulness of her methods (indistinguishable, to my eye, from normal police practice).

Nevertheless, she displayed more depth than anyone else in Mind Games, whether turning to her former Mother Superior for spiritual support, displaying humanity towards suspects and victims, or revealing a touching vulnerability when taunted about her convent past by ignorant detectives.

What irked me, having guessed the identity of the murderer before O'Neil or Medwynter, was that the disembodied American (Patrick Poletti) on the computer screen was able to pick out the killer in a few seconds. Life's so unfair.

My heart sank at the prospect of a further series of Monarch Of The Glen starting last night. Not since Braveheart has Scotland been so wilfully sentimentalised in the cause of vapid entertainment.

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