I’m not normally a great fan of ‘reality TV’: the programmes seem engineered and contrived to me, particularly in the area of conflict. Light blue touch-paper and retire immediately seems to be the producers’ motto in bringing people together. Sometimes they get a positive outcome: usually it’s just fireworks.
But the recent series Famous, Rich and Homeless was an exception; although I have to say at the outset that two out of the three epithets didn’t really apply. I’d only heard of one of the four who volunteered to sleep rough for a week and be filmed doing it, and that was the snooker player Willie Thorne. But even he, though famous, could no longer be considered rich, having recently gone bankrupt due to a gambling problem. Still, it put him on the same wavelength as his homeless buddy, which is more than could be said for Kim Woodburn. I had no idea who this woman was but apparently she presents a programme called ‘How Clean is Your House?’ Her attitude towards the people she met seemed to be ‘how genuine is your homelessness?’ – however she did seem to change over the week especially when paired with a woman who had lost her home in a fire and was in temporary accommodation (one room) awaiting the insurance. And when I found out that she was 73 and had slept rough as a teenager I changed my mind about her.
Willie Thorne was a little flaky and spent the second night in a hotel. I was tempted to be judgmental here but then I reminded myself that he didn’t have to volunteer for the programme (in aid of Sport Relief) and that I would probably be no better. The last time I went camping was bad enough: if I’d had a car I’d have packed up in the night and gone straight home.
The guys the ‘celebs’ paired up with included a heroin addict who slept on a stairwell, a young woman whose pitch was an underpass and a Dutch man, formerly a successful businessman, who had lost everything and now slept in a tent in some woods outside London. But the one who coped best was, unsurprisingly, the presenter of ‘Country File’, Julia Bradbury, who is presumably used to roughing it a little. And when you consider that they did this in the middle of winter and that I have so far wimped out of doing the Great Sleep-out which is in high summer, I’ve got no room to talk.
So I shall stop. Go watch though