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CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: Meet the twins who will tug at your heartstrings

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Meet the amazing twins who will tug at your heartstrings

Extraordinary Twins 

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Bad Influencer: The Great Insta Con 

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As if she didn’t have enough to do, mum Chelsea Torres spends a lot of time sewing clothes for her twins, Callie and Carter.

The girls, now four, are joined above the waist, with two hearts but only one pair of hips and legs. ‘Nowhere makes clothes for conjoined twins,’ sighs Chelsea.

Bet you’ve never thought about that. I admit I haven’t. How marvellous it would be if the next series of The Great British Sewing Bee includes a round where contestants create outfits for disabled children.

As well as being completely practical, that would be a lovely way to remind people that all children, regardless of disabilities, love great-looking clothes.

Sisters Callie and Carter, from the American plains town of Blackfoot, Idaho, are certainly a couple of natural stars. ‘Callie is sassy and bossy,’ said dad Nick, 26, in Extraordinary Twins (ITV). ‘She is the household drama queen. Carter is the goofball, she likes to make people laugh. They’re two very polar identities.’

As if she didn’t have enough to do, mum Chelsea Torres spends a lot of time sewing clothes for her twins, Callie and Carter. The girls, now four, are joined above the waist, with two hearts but only one pair of hips and legs

But the physical challenges they face are immense. When one eats, pressure inside their stomachs makes the other want to throw up. And with the girls controlling one leg each, they have not yet learned to walk. This remarkable two-part documentary, as upsetting as it was endearing, followed the family while Chelsea and Nick confronted a devastating choice. Without an operation to separate them, the twins could never lead independent lives. But such drastic surgery could kill either one, or both.

Rather than exploiting the emotional drama of this decision, the film-makers did a superb job of showing how different their futures might be. We met similar, slightly older twins Erica and Eva in California, who are learning to live apart after a successful operation.

Their mother urged Nick and Chelsea to make the same choice. She believed wholeheartedly that it was the right thing to do — but one of the most difficult pressures for any parents of disabled children can sometimes be the insistence from other families to follow their example and thus validate their decisions. Resisting those demands can take great courage.

Sometimes the children force the choice. We watched brilliant surgeons at Great Ormond Street hospital begin a terrifying operation to separate Turkish twins conjoined at the skull. To their parents’s anguish, the baby boys were clearly in constant physical and mental distress. But their brains shared crucial arteries, making the surgery highly dangerous.

Bad Influencer: The Great Insta Con followed up newspaper reports about a fraudulent advocate for healthy eating, Belle Gibson (pictured), who faked a cancer diagnosis and claimed to have cured herself with smoothies and raw veg

Intelligent documentaries about physical disability are few and far between. Ones showing the trials of parents with disabled children are even rarer.

Language barrier of the night: 

Rob Cain is a French polisher who doesn’t speak French. The Yorkshireman was buying treasures in Provence, on Antiques Hunters On Tour (More4). But he had to ask the film crew to translate the prices. 

This was exceptional viewing, and I can’t recommend tonight’s second episode too strongly. A graphic example of how to get a documentary wrong was the exposé of an Australian social media diet guru, Bad Influencer: The Great Insta Con (BBC1).

This hurried, unfocused story followed up newspaper reports about a fraudulent advocate for healthy eating, Belle Gibson, who faked a cancer diagnosis and claimed to have cured herself with smoothies and raw veg. After landing a deal with Apple, she pocketed tens of thousands of dollars intended for charities.

But director Ziyaad Desai left numerous questions unanswered and failed to track down Gibson, or get any comment from her.

Instead, we heard from former devotees who claimed Gibson conned them into giving up processed food. That’s a bit baffling: it’s hardly bogus science to suggest we should all cut down on factory-produced pap.

And one interviewee said her own cancer went into remission after she ditched chemotherapy and adopted Gibson’s plant-based diet. What are we supposed to make of that?

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