The witch report in all its gory

I MADE the mistake of eating my tea while watching Witchcraze, a documentary-style recreation of the witch-hunts in Scotland where, from 1590 to 1597, between 1,000 and 1,500 people were executed for witchcraft.

James Carmichael, Minister of Haddington, took the camera crew on a guided tour of the new prison, Edinburgh Tollbooth, built to accommodate the large number of internees accused of being witches.

"It looks worse than it is, but that's the point," he said, reaching a tray containing the apparatus of torture - shining instruments, sharp blades and pincers. Once those accused caught sight of these implements "the truth comes bubbling out", we were assured. Unhappily for Agnes Sampson, she resisted. The sight of the bleeding, bloodied, sobbing woman chained up and being abused was not an edifying one at teatime.

A caption at the start informed us that all the characters depicted existed and all the events happened in this eyewitness account of the witch-hunts. Events were charmingly framed by a hanging and a burning at the stake. While the King (James VI) was away, the Earl of Bothwell did play. Cameras caught him sharing his bedroom with naked women and in party mood. This did not go down well with Carmichael, who noted: "We will have Bothwell. He is slow and we are quick."

When the king returned, he was intrigued by all the talk of witches but sceptical. The fact that the actor playing the monarch reminded me of Rik Mayall rather spoiled things, as I expected him to launch into a string of funny faces and voices at any time.

Witchcraze fed on the current viewer frenzy for dramatised history. The novelty was that there was no David Starkey pontificating in front of pretty buildings. This favoured a nitty-gritty, reportage approach to make it stand out from the rest.

What a relief to turn to A Place In The Sun, although this particular edition of the overseas property show seemed overcrowded. That was because the programme attempted to find homes in France for cousins Pat and Sonia, so you had double the number of properties to view. No sooner had the camera crew set foot through the front door than it was time to go off to view another property.

The cousins wanted to retire abroad, with homes near each other. The obvious solution was to find somewhere big enough to share, while still retaining their independence. A water mill with grazing sheep on the land, making the need to mow the lawn redundant.

Despite calling it "a little bit of paradise", they rejected this and everything the programme offered. The end caption revealed they'd bought property that they'd found themselves - thus making the previous 30 minute programme totally redundant.