As a fan of television (I know, a broad statement) I have to say I’ve been a bit disappointed recently. We’re in a bit of a January lull where the phrase “there’s piss all on telly tonight” is being muttered so often it’s at risk of becoming a catchphrase.
The annoyance got deeper this week with the BBC cancelling my favourite show on BBC Three (and I think my thoughts on the rest of that channel are pretty well known), Mongrels. They’ve probably got decent reasons, particularly with their attempts to Deliver Quality* First (*terms and conditions may apply), but each week there seems to be another show facing the axe. Shooting Stars, Something for the Weekend… soon there’ll be nothing on the BBC left and although that’d mean they wouldn’t spend any money the usual suspects would find a way of moaning about it.
At times the BBC seems to be like one of the all-time great artists who just happens also be a self-harming alcoholic psychotic. They’ll create something glorious like Stargazing Live but then proceed to cut their own leg off, pick up a newspaper, scream “WHY DOES NOBODY LOVE ME”, down a bottle of whisky and orders another series of Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents.
So with them limping along until Hustle gets put down in a few weeks time, I’m left to look elsewhere for TV shows – and a recent commission has caught my eye. Enter The Exclusives, for ITV 2, where six hopefuls will compete for a 12 month job on a Bauer magazine.
There are about one million different potential flaws with this show that it’s hard to know where to start. But maybe it’s best to go in with an open mind. Maybe it won’t be like The Apprentice and just do ridiculous tasks for television entertainment so no-one notices that making sausages is essential to knowing how to run a business, it won’t ridicule the industry of journalism and so portraying it in an interesting light and maybe it won’t act like famous people and red carpet events are the be all and end all of the universe.
But on the other hand it is on ITV 2.
The thing that bugs me is that it’s another example of working being seen as a prize. And the winner is… YOU! Wow! Well done! You’ve earned the right to earn a wage! At least they’re offering a 12-month contract (which is pretty good going these days). Up For Hire attempted to solve record-high youth unemployment by getting national companies to offer a handful of 3-month Christmas temp positions each.
This weekend Iain Duncan Smith told the Sunday Times he thought the graduate who had to work at Poundland without pay to stay on jobseekers’ allowance was a “snooty so-and-so”, saying “…it’s a human right for the taxpayer to know you’re doing something productive instead of wafting around looking for the job you want while someone else pays for it.”
Apparently, wanting money in exchange for work seems to be an unacceptable, snooty high standard these days. It’s not about that stacking shelves is ‘below’ someone, rather that large companies shouldn’t be using unpaid labour in this way.
Every time someone asks me what I’m going to do after university I just say “find a job that pays money”. Unfortunately, that’s already a hard task. And now I’m supposed to think that wanting a wage is an unacceptably high standard.
Maybe I’ll just sit down and watch some telly. Hopefully there’ll be something better on.