CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Digital gold rush and why it’s even easier to part a fool and his money
Cryptocurrency: Has The Bubble Burst?
Secrets Of The Spies
Why isn’t this stuff taught in schools? Why, instead of those tangents and cosines, don’t children learn every get-rich-quick scheme in history was a con-trick?
The answer is that half the class would take the teacher’s warning as further proof that ‘the Government’ is lying to them and ‘Boris Johnson’ wants them to be poor.
Social media has addled the brains of a generation, as gullible presenter Ade Adepitan was all too eager to demonstrate in Cryptocurrency: Has The Bubble Burst? (C4).
Ade greedily threw his own money into delusionary internet scams including Bitcoin and Ethereum, the made-up money markets.
He did this despite an explicit warning from a former City trader that Bitcoin, which is not legal tender in the UK, was ‘a pyramid scheme — it’s fool’s gold and it’s dangerous’.
Social media has addled the brains of a generation, as gullible presenter Ade Adepitan was all too eager to demonstrate in Cryptocurrency: Has The Bubble Burst? (C4)
This man spent his career in the financial sector. But Ade preferred to listen to a 23-year-old rapper with no financial experience, who rattled off lyrics about how wealthy he was going to be.
A bloke who ran a pest control business extolled the reliability of an electronic currency he set up online himself, called Koda. It’s one of an estimated 18,000 e-coins worldwide, the internet equivalent of Monopoly money.
Some might wonder whether invisible banknotes invented by a ratcatcher are a safe investment. Not Ade. He was dreaming of the profits he’d make in this digital gold rush.
The pity of it is that history books are littered with similar financial hallucinations. Most get forgotten. Around 1720, for instance, a Scottish chancer called John Law bankrupted the French aristocracy with a fake scheme selling shares in trade with America’s deep South — the Mississippi Scheme.
Law was besieged by French noblewomen, desperate to be permitted to invest. One had her footmen overturn her carriage in the street to get his attention.
But Ade’s investigations didn’t include any history. All his attention was on a man in a Lamborghini, who claimed to have made so much money speculating in cryptocurrencies that he now regarded a £1 million investment not as gambling but as a philosophical experiment. Yeah, right.
More confidence tricks with international implications were revealed in Secrets Of The Spies (ITV), a lightweight but amusing browse through the annals of espionage.
Kim Philby, the MI6 chief who was really a Russian mole, looked as slippery as a buttered haddock, in a 1955 TV interview
It’s always fun to see how keen old spies are to tell all. From KGB defectors to Al-Qaeda double agents, they queued up to reveal their deceptions.
They’re so thrilled to have an audience, it’s a wonder they ever managed to conceal their secret identities. Perhaps they weren’t as good at lying as they thought. Kim Philby, the MI6 chief who was really a Russian mole, looked as slippery as a buttered haddock, in a 1955 TV interview.
He smirked, he stuck his tongue in his cheek, he stared down the camera lens with contempt. Philby’s claims of innocence were so unbelievable, he might as well have announced, like Prince Andrew, that he couldn’t sweat.
A far more convincing double agent wasn’t uncovered until she was 87. Melita Norwood, a former secretary at Britain’s atomic research project, was a top KGB asset. By sending files on nuclear weapons to Moscow, she did untold damage to our defences.
The old girl’s appearance gave nothing away. Even when she was unmasked, living in retirement in Bexleyheath, South London, she seemed so harmless that the MoD couldn’t bring itself to prosecute her.
One wag dubbed her The Spy Who Came In From The Co-Op. How many others like her were never caught, I wonder?
Big cat of the week: Beryl the Longleat lioness was low on confidence, until keepers let her feed first at mealtimes. Now the lion pride, seen as Animal Park (BBC1) returned, regard her as their alpha female. It’s been a great summer for lionesses.