House (five); The Strangest Village In Britain (C4): DR Greg House's bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired.

His rude, insensitive behaviour makes Dr Crippen look like Mother Theresa. He's even reluctant to see patients at the walk-in clinic, fearing he'll be assigned a kid with a runny nose.

"I'll spend 30 seconds on the nose and 25 minutes talking to the worried mom who won't leave until she's sure it's not meningitis or a tumour," he says.

Nine times out of ten, he informs a colleague, there's no reason to talk to a patient. They should consider this a blessing considering the abuse he heaps on sick people.

The surprise in the hit US series House, is that he's played by Hugh Laurie, who's always seemed such a nice, affable British bloke in the past. Here he has an American accent and, while his medical skills are excellent, his approach is objectionable.

Still, it's good to see an actor cast in something you don't expect - unlike British TV series which use the same people over and over again, leaving you with the impression there are only a dozen or so actors in the country.

Odd things are happening too in a village high on the Yorkshire Moors, hence the title, The Strangest Village In Britain, of the final documentary in the Only Human series.

For half a century, 300 people have lived in the village of Botton. Nearly half of them have learning difficulties, autism or Downs Syndrome. They live with and alongside volunteers, known as co-workers, and their families. They don't so much care for the residents as try to ensure they live as independent a life as possible.

The film crew spent six months following the daily routine in this unique community. The result left you wondering what the village hoped to get out of exposing "this little-known social experiment" to a wide audience.

The behaviour of residents, resulting from their various worries and phobias, led you into a very surreal world. Some people would probably accuse me of bad taste, or being as insensitive as Dr House, if I noted that the odd manner of some residents wouldn't have been out of place among the characters in Little Britain.

There was Katie, whose daily mile-long walk to work proved a real trial because of her acute fear of slipping. The narrator noted that the journey "can take quite a while" as she clung to a companion for dear life, talking incessantly about her worries of falling. In the woodwork shop, there was a running feud between workers over such matters as putting a coat on a peg.

One resident, Barry, attempted to leave the community and live in nearby Whitby. You wondered if life alone in a bedsit, for all the independence it gave him, would make him any happier or fulfilled than staying in Botton, surrounded by people who cared.

Published: 17/06/2005