Cherished (BBC1); This World: Coming Of Age (BBC2): CHERISHED was never going to be easy viewing - a mother accused of killing her babies, her enforced separation from her surviving daughter and the uncertainty the court case brings to her relationship with her husband.

The fact that we knew the ending did nothing to alleviate the pain and suffering, and make it more bearable to watch.

"This is a true story. Some of the names and circumstances have been changed", the opening caption informed us. TV's appetite for real life tales is insatiable. After Planespotting at the weekend, Cherished offered a dramatised account of Angela Channing's case. She was freed by the Appeal Court in August 2003 after serving 18 months of a life sentence for the murder of her baby sons.

She was the victim of a theory that said one cot death's a tragedy, two's suspicious and three's murder. The prosecution, it appears, had no real evidence, just theories. She was convicted all the same. New medical evidence eventually led to her conviction being quashed. Some might question the need to drag up the whole sorry mess again in the name of entertainment.

Cherished serves as a reminder that the law can make mistakes and send innocent people to prison. The law was changed as a result of her appeal. But the main reason for making the drama is because it's a compelling human story of ordinary people caught up in something they don't understand and over which they have no control.

As Angela, Sarah Lancashire was required to spend the entire time in tears or looking anguished. She caught well the sheer desperation and fear of a devoted wife and mother who should be grieving for her dead babies but instead finds herself accused of killing them. Just as good was Timothy Spall as her husband Terry, caught up in a situation that had him torn between his wife, social workers and the law.

This World dashed around the world looking at nine teenagers undergoing rites of passage, from a 16-year-old in Beijing on a week's military training to a girl in Japan learning to be a geisha. Oddly, it also featured an Inuit boy named Apak on his first hunting trip with his father, which echoed last week's Natural World documentary about another Inuit boy named Apak.

Some of the teenage activities were more alarming than others. Russian teenager Andrei joined a skinhead group whose aim was to free their land from immigrants. Rather more painful was what happened to 16-year-old Kamoti John in East Uganda. He allowed cameras - and us - to watch as he was circumcised in a tribal coming-of-age ritual.

Published: 23/02/2005