It seems the BBC – to which we pay a licence fee for its unique output and should, apparently, defend without hesitation – is making a new show about “hardworking people”.
That set of workers so beloved by Tories and Labour alike – but as yet undefined – will be, er, celebrated in their own show – Britain’s Hardest Grafter.
The reality television show will see ambitious workers who earn less than £15,500 a year battle it out to win a cash prize.
The cash prize is, apparently, £15,000. Is that enough to satisfy the aspirations of people living on low incomes? Obviously, you and I know it means a lifetime supply of cheesy chips and owning a telly that would look too big in Wembley Stadium.
It is, of course, “aspirational” television and will try its hardest to appear positive while pumping out more poverty porn. The posters read “Britain’s Hardest Worker” but I’d not be surprised if, behind the scenes, it’s called Ex-Worker Factor or That Povo’s Got Talent.
I admit I thought it was a spoof at first. I expected to see it on a satirical news website but, no, the BBC is seeking 25 hardworking people to take part. Twenty five seems a high figure for a nation so overwhelmed by spongers and skivers.
A jobs website contacted the production company. Twenty Twenty told them: ““In each episode, people will be put to the test in a series of challenges and tasks. At the end of each episode, those who have produced the least will be eliminated and by the end of the process, just one worker will remain. The winner will receive in the region of £15,000 which is a year’s living wage (outside of London).”
This show’s sickening format is revealed at the same time Tories and Labour agree to lower the benefit cap – thus blaming workers for earning low wages and being in need of help.
It’s part of a wider narrative consistently letting low paying bosses off the hook and justifying a cut in social security. It’s another way in which we can be blamed for having too much month at the end of our money.
And it’s being considered as a genuine show by the BBC to whom we’ll pay £145.50 a year to watch young people compete for one year’s worth of a crap income.
Perhaps I can aspire by offering some other reality TV ideas to the BBC …
- I’m Living On The Street Get Me Out of Here
- Empty Kitchen
- So You Think You Can Put The Heating On
- The Voiceless UK
- Pop Idle
- Povs Win Prizes
Oh, they’re doing that last one …
As workers we’re expected to constantly prove our worth. We have to prove we are hard grafters, hard-working families, aspirational, ambitious. We have to prove we are willing to work really, really hard to make a profit for other people while being simultaneously grateful for low pay, short-term contracts, zero hours agreements – and, increasingly, the chance of being humiliated on telly.
Karl Marx said: “… bourgeois society ought long ago to have gone to the dogs through sheer idleness for those of its members who work acquire nothing, and those who acquire anything do not work.” And he was right.
Our desire to want to avoid mundane work is not a sin. Not wanting to demean ourselves for a pittance while our bosses get rich is not peculiar. Wanting fair pay for our work is sane. And defining ourselves as human beings first not workers is real aspiration.
So, I say stuff aspiring to be Britain’s Hardest Grafter and embrace idleness – just don’t watch the BBC’s offensive offering on telly while you’re doing it.