BBC Radio Times
Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign for Change
* Posted at 2:34pm
* 01 May 2008
* by AlisonGraham-RT
I wonder what particular kind of viciously destructive bile courses through the insides of a person who’d bother to sit down, take up a pen, and scribble hate mail to Kate and Gerry McCann.
In a revelatory sequence during Emma Loach’s excellent, moving film, Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign for Change (Wednesday 30 April, 8:00pm, ITV1), the McCanns were seen sorting through their post. There was a box for the psychic sightings, another for messages from well-wishers and another for, well, the horrible stuff. And it was really horrible. Gerry McCann read the toxic “greeting” on a Christmas card in which the sender claimed their “brat” had been kidnapped because of her parents’ “drunken arrogance”.
But this is the 21st century, where everyone feels free to comment and to have a view on everything, particularly on things they know nothing about. Rolling news channels encourage halfwitted emails from the ill-informed, while that singular 21st century poison, the amateur blogger (because everyone’s a writer these days, too, aren’t they?), pours forth unfettered rubbish, aided by those playgrounds for the ungrammatical and the dim-witted, forums. Thus the disappearance of Madeleine McCann was turned by the internet into a fairy story, with a cherubic little princess at its heart, while her parents, and in particular her mother, were cast as the villains.
Kate McCann absolutely hit the nail on the head when she told Emma Loach: “We’re not just names, we’re not just characters.” Yes, right, because that’s what they were turned into, figures in a drama who weren’t quite real. Thus everyone who knew nothing felt equipped to contribute to the welter of grotesque conspiracy theories, taking no account that actual people were at the heart of this. Said Kate: “Bloggers and people on forums got some kind of kick out of being nasty.” She was being too nice.
The central crime – the snatching of a young child – became fogged by speculation and misguided sentimentality. To this day, Gerry and Kate McCann remain official suspects. Thus they are told nothing of the investigation’s progress. But they still have to function for the sake of their two other children and are pouring their energies into urging European countries to operate the American Amber Alert system when a child goes missing.
In the programme they were told by child abduction investigators not to give up on finding Madeleine alive. I’m not sure how they manage to get out of bed every day, particularly as the guilt of leaving their children alone that night obviously weighs heavily, but they do. Remorseless character assassinations and crackpot amateur theories aside, they continue to hope.
Alison Graham is TV editor of Radio Times.http://themaddiecasefiles.com/topic9973.html