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CHRISTOPHER STEVENS on TV: DNA bombshell that blew apart a life story not once, but twice

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: DNA bombshell that blew apart a life story not once, but twice

DNA Family Secrets

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Why is Covid Killing People Of Colour?

Rating: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS on TV: DNA bombshell that blew apart a life story not once, but twice

My first thought when a hollow crash shook the streets around my Bristol home late on Sunday evening was that a bomb had gone off in the city centre.

I held my breath, waiting for the car alarms and sirens. Mercifully, though, silence settled again.

Walking the dog, I supposed that some mundane incident must have caused the noise — a lorry clipping the kerb, perhaps. It wasn’t until the next day that the extraordinary truth emerged: a meteorite created a sonic boom as it fell somewhere in the Cotswolds.

Stacey Dooley met a bewildered bloke in Devon, on DNA Family Secrets (BBC2), whose whole life was exploded by a similarly unguessable puzzle. When Richard, 53, received a packet of family snaps from the Seventies, he didn’t know whether he’d been hit by a hiccup or an earthquake.

Stacey Dooley met a bewildered man on DNA Family Secrets whose whole life was exploded by an unguessable puzzle

Stacey Dooley met a bewildered man on DNA Family Secrets whose whole life was exploded by an unguessable puzzle

The photos showed a small boy who looked very much like him. Then a man named Raymond phoned him. The child in the pictures, he said, was his half-brother, Brendan … and Raymond was their dad.

Both the people Richard believed to be his birth parents were now dead. But a DNA test proved he and his sister didn’t share a father. It looked like Raymond was telling the truth. That’s where Stacey came in, at the start of a four-part series on how science is altering the bedrock of countless families. In Leicestershire, 75-year-old Bill learned the identity of his father — a Texas G.I. — and spoke to the half-sisters he’d never dreamed he had.

In South Wales, a young mother waited anxiously to find out whether she and her baby son had inherited the deadly gene for Huntington’s disease. Thankfully, she hadn’t.

Wicked laughs of the week:

When Amazon Prime released The Jewish Enquirer last year, I called it ‘packed with off-colour gags that wouldn’t have a hope of getting past the Beeb’s censors’. It’s just as funny now — renamed as Hapless, on My5 catch-up site. Seek it out.

But it was Richard’s story that hid the biggest surprises. We watched as he met Brendan for the first time. The two men marvelled at how alike they were. By the look of their bushy grey beards, they even went to the same barber.

Stacey knew the truth, but kept quiet — a manipulation that ITV show Long Lost Family avoids. Instead of breaking bad news to the men off camera, she built the tension to breaking point … and then unleashed the meteorite.

Richard and Brendan weren’t related at all! Old Raymond, who was too poorly to appear on the programme, might have known Richard’s mother, but he wasn’t her only boyfriend.

That left Richard none the wiser as to the identity of his biological father. He took it pretty well, for a man who’s had his world blown apart not once but twice.

Actor David Harewood wasn’t taking any news well, in his one-off investigation, Why is Covid Killing People Of Colour? (BBC1).

By the end of the hour, when he got into a videophone argument with Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, he shouted the phrase ‘systemic racism’ so many times that she had to ask him what he actually meant by it. Harewood was boiling with anger that statistics show black people in Britain have been three times more likely to die from coronavirus than the white population.

But he failed to ask the question that is currently most urgent: why are black people, even within the NHS, so much more likely to refuse the vaccine?

And I was yelling at the screen, when he sauntered into a fast food shop in Brent, North London, to interview the staff, with his facemask under his jaw.

Wear it properly, or don’t wear it at all — but don’t tie it under your chin and pretend it’s doing any good.

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