The World’s Strongest Child and Me Review: What exactly are you making up for?
THE WORLD’S STRONGEST CHILD AND ME, C4, Wednesday 18th February 10.00pm Alert Me
Once again, Mark Dolan goes in search of weird people, once again he finds them, and once again it’s kind of boring. Of course, there’s always going to be the initial gasp factor – “wow look at that kid lifting up something heavy and putting it down again. That’s pretty weird” – but a jaw can’t stay dropped for an hour at the same thing, or you’d just start dribbling.
Anyway, this time Dolan’s looking for the world’s strongest child, and unlike the only other of his shows that I watched – the one about boobs – he doesn’t even manage that. It’s a hard thing to measure, obviously, particularly as the difference between a 3 year old child and a 15 year old child is vast, but you would have thought he could make some sort of conclusion. Instead, Dolan spends a few weeks in America and the eastern bloc and comes away with…what?
He says that it’s the parents that make the children this way, which is so patently obvious that it’s barely worth saying. A three year old child does not choose to have weights tied to its limbs, after all, and by the time they are fifteen or sixteen, these kids are left with little choice in the matter. All they can do, all they’ve ever done, is be strong. The only sad thing is that in the Eastern Bloc it is gradually becoming impossible for anyone other than the very best, the Olympians, to make a living out of picking up heavy things. There’s one very sad little sequence in which a whole family with an old-fashioned circus strongman act play to a load of bemused teenagers in a western style club. It’s obvious that the older generation is finding it harder to adapt to a society which values comfort and intellectual strength above Spartan physical strength.
So there is some good stuff in here, but you have to ignore Dolan’s charming, bumbling but ultimately incompetent presentation in order to get to it. He will steer you down the most obvious route, the easiest route, but to find anything of value you do need to take a bit of a detour. The biggest question you’re left asking is not “how can they do that to their children?” or “how are those poor kids going to function in the real world?” but rather “what was the point of that? And can I have Louis Theroux back please?”
By Chris Harding