Marisa’s advanced English class

Paula Pryke’s programme. A different view

Posted by marisadedios on January 27, 2008

I thought you might like to have a different view on this topic from the one in your coursebook.
What is your opinion?
September 22, 2004

Freak show makes for grubby viewing

NOTICE HOW everyone wants to be involved in TV these days? If they don’t want to be making programmes, then they want to appear on screen; welcoming guests, giving away prizes, swapping wives. Any other job you might have is just a temporary diversion on the path to a TV career; even if the job is being President of the United States. No sooner had Bill Clinton left the White House than rumours seeped out about how he was negotiating to host a TV show.And do you know why television attracts all this interest? Because people have gained the impression that a career in television involves approximately two minutes’ work a day. You see, in olden times TV executives would be pulling their hair out for weeks trying to think up ideas for riveting new shows. Nowadays, you just have to dream up a snappy programme title, and a programme is then fashioned to fit.

Example? Too Posh to Wash (Channel 4). What is the show about? Who cares? It will spawn a new era of programming: Too Cheap to Sleep (misers who stay up all night on holiday rather than spend money on hotels); Too Poor to Tour (bands try to raise funds to take their music on the road); To Salonika with Monica (“It’s just a working title, Bill. Nothing’s fixed”).

Not suited for a producing or a presenting role on television, 23-year-old Osla Henniker-Major of Co Durham, has opted for an appearing role in Too Posh to Wash. Her selling point? She stinks. I don’t mean that in a nice way. Osla (grandfather’s a lord; pops is an Hon) is the unlikeliest candidate for prime-time success since Mel Brooks’s theatre producers concocted Springtime for Hitler. “Osla goes without washing for weeks at a time,” said the narrator, “and her underwear hasn’t been cleaned in years.” Osla’s best friend, Trigger, says that it’s not just that Osla smells like a skunk: when she picks her nose she “then just puts it in her pocket . . . It wouldn’t matter too much, but the fact is she doesn’t wash her jeans.”

Obviously, Osla’s not a normal girl. If someone mentions that you have the hygiene habits of a hyena, do you, (a) Quickly wash (b) Punch them or (c) Think, “Ooh, telly opportunity”?

How can someone who can’t be bothered to brush their teeth or wash their underwear be bothered to undergo the screening process required to become a punter on a TV show, just so that they might be detoxified in public by Aggie MacKenzie and Kim Woodburn, those nice women who made their name by sniffing strangers’ U-bends in their series How Clean is Your House?

Either it’s a spoof, and Osla, her family and her friends are having a laugh at Aggie and Kim’s expense, or Osla needs not only a shower but also psychiatric counselling for thinking that it might be a good idea to publicise her insanitary habits. It’s television as freak show. Had Osla been poor rather than posh, this show might have been seen as mocking the afflicted.

Going Straight (Channel 4) must have sounded zippy when it was pitched, mustn’t it? Let’s get a bunch of convicted drug-dealers and burglars who are fresh out of prison, and put them on an honest path by teaching them how to — wait, how to what? Let’s think. Clean offices? No, too dull on TV. Drive minicabs? Hmm, but hasn’t there been a TV series recently about cabbies? Run a shop? That’s it, they can run a shop! But selling what? Bicycles? Sandwiches? I know, flowers! Thugs selling flowers. Only selling pink ballet pumps could trump that.

So they get Paula Pryke, a famous florist, to teach six ex-cons how to tie roses; only Paula despairs at their lack of commitment. An ex-con-turned-millionaire-entrepreneur acts as the group’s personal and business mentor; only he, too, despairs at their lack of commitment.

As television? Could sizzle, I suppose. As television gussied up as social work? You’re having a laugh, aren’t you? Who would expect six people who have spent their lives on the margins of society — trusting nobody, being trusted by nobody, hardened by prison life — to get on with each other at all, let alone well enough to work together, let alone well enough to work together to survive the emotional rollercoaster that is setting up a new business? Going Straight feels like a discreetly camouflaged version of bare-knuckle fighting. We’re waiting for the fists to fly. Maybe they should have called it Too Jejune to Prune.

From Safe-Cracking to Rose-Feathering

A new Brit television show “Going Straight” sets up a group of ex-cons under the tutelage of a premiere floral designer.

Can flowers rehabilitate a criminal? “Going Straight,” a reality television show new this season in England, will test that question, or maybe it’s just a good excuse to snicker. Let’s watch a thug wire a rosebud.

Producers of the show say no. An article in the Guardian quotes the program’s executive producer, Hilary Rosen. “We wanted to look at why unemployment and reoffending are such a problem for people who have left prison,” she says. “But we wanted to do something positive – to offer people a chance to help themselves with advice and training.”

Six ex-offenders will work with floral designer Paula Pryke and a business consultant to set up a working shop by Mother’s Day, THE big day for florists in England. The show will track the difficulties ex-convicts face buckling down to an honest living and building public trust, as well as, presumably, keeping iris fresh longer than three days.

For Brits, the show can’t help but allude to “Buster” Edwards. Edwards participated in “The Great Train Robbery,” a notorious 1963 heist, when the Royal Mail Train was relieved of 2.5 million pounds. After his release from the penitentiary, Edwards quietly opened a flower shop outside the Waterloo station. As England’s “Bird Man of Alcatraz,” Edwards and his story intrigued the nation, a surreal combination of ruthless crime and delicate sensibility.

Good luck to the budding florists. Surely they know how Buster’s business ended. He was discovered hanging in his potting shed in 1994. Associates claimed that he’d been in on another string of train robberies, had come under suspicion, and couldn’t bear the idea of being locked up again.


2 Responses to “Paula Pryke’s programme. A different view”

  1. veparsan said

    In my opinion, this Tv show is a opportunity for those ex-offenders who want to change their habits and improve their lifes. But, on the other hand it depends on the type of crime that each ex-convict have commit. I mean, if a person shows a big lack of scruples, because is able to kill, it’s not possible his/her social rehabilitation. Maybe we have to give them the doubt’s benefit.

  2. […] Paula Pryke’s programme. A different view […]

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