Sometimes I watch TV and think – what is the point of this? Take tonight’s Channel 4 Cutting Edge (yeah, cutting edge my ass) documentary, Bobski the Builder.
Two extensions, two builders. One is British – slow, annoyingly reassuring, methodical, traditional, takes 6 moths to finish the job – the other is Polish – cocky, cheeky, with a thick accent, less experienced, cheaper, finishes the job in just over 40 days. One takes it easy, does everything by the book, the other is more slapdash, get his boys from a poor corner of Poland and makes them work 7 days a week. Blah, blah, blah. In the end, both screw up, both prove useless.
Precisely what the point of this documentary was, I unfortunately failed to notice. Needless to say, it was a fairly stereotype-ridden affair: a young Polish couple makes the UK their home to improve their standard of living (‘We’re not here for the benefits’); poor south-eastern corner of Poland is the best place to find cheap labour (and a horse cart); Poles travel with tins of spam in their luggage; semi-folksy music of no particular provenance is the best choice for the shots of wintery, muddy Polish country roads.
This shambolic documentary didn’t tell the viewing public anything valuable. Nothing at all. Apart from reinforcing the Daily Mail sort of stereotypes of an Eastern European migrant.
Still, it managed to challange the notion that the British sense of humour is unrivalled. When Jarek was pitching for a job, he told one elderly lady: “I’m also a hairdresser. I can do your hair”. Priceless.