Tuesday, 9 March 2010


The Guardian's verdict on "Famous, Rich and Jobless" was scathing. They called it "the latest example of celebrity tourism" and I agree. I haven't had the chance yet to watch the programme which followed it at 10.35 - I hope it's on iplayer. But my reaction last night was based on relief that it wasn't as bad as it threatened to be.
All of us with bitter experience of being out of work know that 4 celebs pretending to be unemployed for 4 days was going to be superficial at best. But they did confront the reality that was so different from their preconceptions. If many of us were wondering when they would be told about the way the benefits system works, let's remember that most people have no idea, and would have been surprised that 16 hours of work means that you lose all your benefits. Of course, it would have been better if they'd gone further and shown that it's not actually possible to live on casual work; that the cash-in-hand work that two of the celebs got was not only illegal, but meant that they would end up without NI contributions and be penalised later in life.
Many of us would have cheered on Larry Lamb as he reacted to Emma Harrison's patronising characterisation of the unemployed. But we would also have challenged his cheerful attitude to living on the dole. Yes, we can survive on £39 for 4 days. But what happens when the phone bill comes in; when it's someone's birthday, or a wedding, and you can't buy a present; when there's a social function you can't go to? The introduction of Fiona, a real person, was the antidote to this silliness. She is living on cheap bread because she can't afford proper food. And a part-time job in Asda is impossible for her to take.
I don't look forward to tonight's episode, when the celebs go to stay in the homes of real people. That looks like being "celebrity tourism" at its worst.


  1. The Guardian's description of the programme as "celebrity tourism" sums up my opinion perfectly. As I watched the programme I became increasingly aware that it was deeply distasteful - but couldn't put it into words until I saw the Guardian's review.

  2. Anyone else a bit confused by the poor lass Larry comforted. This sounds cynical, but didn't she say she rents out the property he's in. Even if she lives in it there's no way she could do that without HB and yet she seemed to say that ALL she had to live in was JSA.

    Something seems off about that.

    Especially as previously Larry wasn't taking it as seriously as Harrison and her ally would have liked.

    All we need now is John Bird to come along and lose his temper.

  3. Another thing - what's with the 'slebs' having to wear second hand clothing? Ok, those out of work usually cannot afford to buy the latest designer gear (despite what architypal Sun and Daily Mail readers think). However, has the BBC not heard of Primark, Officers Club, ASDA and even M&S who sell affordable clothing?

    This again further stigmatises those out of work. On the one hand, they all wear designer gear, have the latest games consoles, huge flat screen TV's and take foreign holidays. On the other, they all look like tramps! I guess someone out of work is not allowed any dignity.

  4. To be fair (and I know it's hard!) their own clothes had to be replaced by something that didn't look new. I don't know about you, but when I was out of work the only new clothes I got were gifts from friends. Everything else came from charity shops.

  5. Fair enough in a way. However, it just seemed to reinforce yet more stereotypes.

  6. Why not just tell the celebrities not to wear thousand ppound earrings in the first place? What a farce, what a fake insulting farce. It's shameful this joke of a tv show got made in the first place. I'm so angry about this I could spit teeth. The attitudes of people in this country make my blood boil; if it's not the hang em and flog em brigade calling for kids to be lynched, or people to be forcibly sterilised, it's cynical tv producers quaffing champaigne while plotting another stupid tv show. These people play with the lives of others like the two old guys from Trading Places.


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