Two hours last night in front of the telly, and there couldn’t have been a bigger contrast between the two programmes I watched.
An extraordinary man called Eric Rivers is gradually being deprived of life by motor neurone disease and lives with his family in a small terraced house in Enfield that is not suited at all to his or his family’s needs. With friends neighbours and local trades pitching in to a real community effort (how so many people work in such a small space is a miracle), the team transform the house, with a loft conversion, a specially designed kitchen, a wet room, an internal wheelchair lift, and garden access, to the genuine delight of the family and the man who has only a couple of years to live.
It’s hard to put my finger on why I like this programme so much. Partly we all like a tear-jerker. Partly it’s the style with which Knowles runs the operation, and the remarkably personal interviews he conducts, in this case with a terminally ill man with a passion for life. Partly it’s one of the few programmes that celebrates rather than derides working class people, showcasing their skills and humour – an antidote to Shameless. Partly it’s the story of ordinary communities coming together to achieve remarkable things. Partly it’s just an affirmation of how simple housing policy should be – to deliver suitable homes to people who need them.
Then ‘The Apprentice’ and the screen is now full of ugly humourless backbiting people in suits, living their lives through competition not co-operation, gratuitously slagging each other off while they try to sell pointless products, talking in endless jargon, and fawning to a man who made a fortune from selling (in my personal experience) crappy electronic equipment. ‘Lord’ Sugar mocks their inadequacies one after the other, but he doesn’t have to try hard. Surely one day one of these spineless creatures will tell him where to stick his apprenticeship …….
Ah well, serves me right for forgetting where the off button on the remote control is.