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CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the weekend's TV

by Caryn Pirkle (2020-05-19)


sprout.jpgSelling Sex

Rating:

Deadwater Fell 

Rating:

While the rest of Britain is bellowing the odds about Meghan, Brexit and everything else (including the owner of that amazing voice inside the bee costume on The Masked Singer), Louis Theroux has perfected the art of being non-committal.

He doesn't offer opinions. He barely asks questions. He just stares, head slightly drooped and gaze slightly sideways, never breaking eye contact — like a spaniel waiting to be fed.

The technique works best when his interviewees want to be liked. The longer he stays silent, the more they give him.

Selling Sex (BBC2), an investigation into the growing number of women who work from home as prostitutes, was a masterclass in silent interrogation.

Each of the three women Louis met needed little prompting to talk about why they chose to go to bed with strangers for money. All had prepared answers that sounded convincing enough at first.






Selling Sex (BBC2), an investigation into the growing number of women who work from home as prostitutes, was a masterclass in silent interrogation, writes CHRISTOPHER STEVENS. Pictured: Louis Theroux with 23-year-old student Ashley


Victoria, 33, was a single mum with four children to feed. As a sex worker, she could earn £250 an hour and still do the school run.

Caroline, 63, did it torren to direct link spice up her marriage, with the encouragement of her husband. Ashley, a 23-year-old student, had a high sex drive and was fed up with dating.

If Louis had challenged them with probing, judgmental questions, the women might have stuck obstinately to their stories. But he said nothing. Sometimes he nodded or compressed his lips, as though trying to understand.






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He never looked offended. He didn't react to the women's nervous jokes. Most importantly, he never expressed his approval of anything . . . though he constantly seemed on the verge of giving it.

Trying to coax a smile out of him, the women kept offering information — tentatively at first, then in torrents. Ashley talked so compulsively and emotionally that I began to be afraid for her health. ‘I'm so desperate for people to acknowledge my existence,' she said, in tears.






Victoria, 33, was a single mum with four children to feed. As a sex worker, she could earn £250 an hour and still do the school run


All three had suffered horrible, abusive childhoods, something they might have denied or dismissed until Louis gave them the impetus to start talking.