The Secrets of Scientology are frightening and numerous

Metro, UK/September 29, 2010

TV Review: The secrets of Scientology aren't just in its accounting, nor its alleged tenets about an intergalactic warlord. The hidden world goes as far as purported footage of the private traits of celebrity members like Tom Cruise, according to tonight's fascinating Panorama.

There were no histrionics from John Sweeney this time but a second look at Scientology underlined the insidious aspects of the controversial organisation.

As Sweeney delved into L Ron Hubbard's mysterious pseudoreligion and found himself hounded and harassed, the group's continued denial that it is a cult seemed laughable.

This is a so-called church, yet so much of its treatment of non-believers smacks of paranoia, notably the revelation that Sweeney's 2007 'exploding tomato' impression was encouraged.

Flashbacks to his previous investigation were overused and there was no scene capable of reaching the infamy of his red-faced screaming fit.

But with former 'church' spokesman Mike Rinder at Sweeney's side, the lengths to which the religion of the stars will go to discredit its critics - including dividing families - became horribly clear.

We met Amy Scobee, who saw details of her sex life leaked after she left and criticised Scientology while Rinder and Sweeney were consistently followed by taciturn cameramen.

Thankfully, there was exemplary investigative journalism on show, with the BBC man unbowed by closed avenues of inquiry or alleged surveillance.

This superb documentary proved that you can reveal the startling aggression behind a group that preaches spiritual growth and the so-called Way to Happiness without becoming an unlikely YouTube star in the process.

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