THE women were never fooled. Gloria Wood knows who attacked her. Ditto Tracy Browne, though police laughed at her and filed her casenotes in a different cabinet. Debra Schlesinger's best friend knew, though Debbie didn't live to tell the

tale. And we knew, all us ``respectable'' women: we never bought the line that we were not at risk. To be a woman in Yorkshire in the late 1970s was to be dead scared. I carried a frozen chicken around with me in a plastic carrier bag

because women had been prosecuted for possession of more obvious weaponry. They caught Peter Sutcliffe half a mile from my home.

Network First.

Silent Victims: The Untold Story of the Yorkshire Ripper (ITV,

Tuesday) demonstrated beyond doubt that the 13 murders and seven

attempted murders of which Sutcliffe was convicted were not a full tally of his crimes. The West Yorkshire chief constable Keith Hellawell thinks he may have been responsible for another 20 fatal or near-fatal attacks on women. Police overlooked these crimes because of their conviction that the Ripper only killed prostitutes. But no-one in the

programme asked why the police held this perverse and tragic belief.

The late 1970s was not always a comfortable time to be a man in

Yorkshire, either. The one thing known about the Ripper was his sex. All men were under suspicion; there was even an urban legend that he was a police officer.

To keep this paranoia at arm's length, it was necessary to see him

as a man somehow apart from the rest of his sex, who only struck women set apart from the rest of their sex. It sounds far-fetched? The description given by Tracy Browne produced an artist's impression almost

identical to the near-photographic likenesses of the Ripper in circulation, and yet still the police insisted he was not involved. They interviewed Peter Sutcliffe nine times and let him go. In the end he was caught because his car was fitted with false

numberplates. The catalogue of errors goes beyond incompetence into the realms of active self-delusion. Whatever snakes were coiling inside his head, on the surface Sutcliffe was a bloke of conspicuous ordinariness. As Joan Smith put it, in her book

Misogynies, the police thought they were looking for a needle in a haystack, when in fact they were looking for a wisp of hay.

This was an oddly low-key documentary, despite those disturbingly graphic reconstructions. Calmly, it chronicled mistakes which allowed Sutcliffe to evade capture, condemning yet more women to death. In place of indignation we were offered the reassuri

ng face of modern policing: the sleekly-tailored chief constable who visits Sutcliffe in Broadmoor, building up a rapport with the killer in the hope of persuading him to confess. It was left to the women, the unacknowledged victims with their history of

breakdowns and shattered lives, haltingly to express their pain and frustration. Hellawell handled them sensitively, as the public relations department had trained him to do.

I longed for King Girl (BBC2, Monday) to be over almost as soon as it began, which is about as good as it gets when your subject is bullying. Memories came flooding back: the trick of tying school ties to make them fat and slatternly; sadistic act

s in the lawless zone of the girls' toilets; the limitless terror of victim status, and its shame. Even now I want it known that I was never bullied at school - though, like everyone else, I knew the fear.

Louise Atkins played Glenn the hard case to such perfection that, despite poignant problems at home, I fervently wished her dead. And still the backchat with her gang had me laughing in craven complicity. Cathy Purcell gave Gail, the fatherless girl the

y tormented, a heartrending mix of hopelessness and dogged endurance. And then Philomena McDonagh's script went and spoiled it all with a happy ending. The worm turned, and the defeated Glenn offered up an emotionally-literate confession of envy and in

adequacy. In reality, of course, the Gails survive their ordeals, but only because the Glenns pick on somebody else.

One of the most tiresome features of England in the 1980s was the way the middle classes droned on about ``design''. One of the most tiresome aspects of the 1990s is the way Scotland seems to have caught the habit a decade too late. Disproportionately fla

ttered that a metropolitan mogul like Sir Terence Conran should have noticed one of our own, Ex-S commissioned The Good Buy Girl (BBC1, Monday) which followed Glasgow designer Janice Kirkpatrick on a #27,000 spending spree, amassing consumer durables for

an exhibition at London's Design Museum.

Since the commentary was by Kirkpatrick herself, irony was not high on the shopping list. The film came across as a commerical for Italian engineering. Anglo-Japanese impracticality, Scottish ingenuity and, above all, for Janice herself. As a formula

for naked self-promotion, having a sparkplug tattooed on your shoulderblade, submitting to a stylist who turns your hair to swarf, and including a life-size, postmodernly-playful photograph of yourself in a design show is a combination hard to beat.

We saw Janice in leathers astride her Ducati motorbike (``Engine overrun to die for''); Janice cleaning the lavatory with her Alessi bogbrush (it's name translates as ``wee jobbie'', ho ho); Janice establishing her credentials as a woman of the pe

ople by selecting Radion washing power with Marks & Spencers' pants. But, with the honourable exeception of Rita Rusk and her alarming sawtooth scissors, no-one convinced me that any of these fetish objects were surpassingly well-designed.

The Verdict: Murmuring Judges (BBC2, Tuesday) continued its Ladybird Book of the Law approach, asking Mr Justice Hooper of the Queen's Bench Division how he kept his stockings up. (Ladies thigh-highs, if you must know). Then presenter David Rose stru

ck gold. No, not Judge Scott Wostenholme massacring I Heard it Through the Grapevine in an ageing saddies' rock band. I'm talking about Judge Martin Tucker, a sweet old gent with the fluffy hair and rosy features of a shoemaker elf, taking issue with the

view that the judiciary is completely out of touch.

``We tend not to live in the council estates,'' he conceded. ``But I actually happen to live very close to one, and our post office is there and our local news agent is there and our greengrocer is there, and my gardener lives there. So I think I've got a

little bit of an idea what goes on.'' Judge Martin Tucker recently jailed a bag-snatcher for life.