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Nick Hewer: Countdown to Freetown

Nick Hewer: Countdown to Freetown

Sun Apr 7, 7-8pm, C4

By Phil Harrison
It’s ‘a private mission’, claims Nick Hewer: ‘I’m not here as Mother Teresa.’ That’s all very well, but given that it’s on television, it’s impossible not to judge this baffling film in public terms. Through his charity Hope and Homes for Children, Nick met a young Sierra Leonian called James. James was an aspiring carpenter and Nick sensed a soupçon of entreprenurial spirit. But how could he be helped? You’d imagine there would be many routes to salvation; Nick has opted for the most quixotic (or telegenic?) option available.

He’s towing an industrial saw through Europe and Africa and presenting it to his young protegé in Freetown. If we’re feeling charitable – and it could be argued that one good turn deserves another – we might conclude that the shameless self-indulgence at the heart of this bizarre enterprise is part of the fun.

Nick clearly senses the project’s inbuilt flaws and, possibly to preempt criticism, has arranged to be interrogated by a journalist about his motives and the possible success of the mission. As a contribution to Sierra Leone’s salvation, it’s all but meaningless. But still, it’s hard to take against either Nick or James, however queasy the backdrop.

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