Let's start with me saying I have no problem with Jamie Oliver. Despite the claims of shameless self-promotion, whoring himself to Sainsbury's et-bleeding-cetera, I truly believe his heart is in the right place. And not in the way your Mum uses that phrase after uncle Gary has just spunked Nana's savings on the gee-gees and headbutted Woolies window after a day on the cider. More that, even if he was just a pub chef he'd take in waifs and strays and give them a chance to learn. Jamie's a nice bloke.
I also don’t have a problem with the concept of Dream School. I was expelled from Bridgnorth Endowed school in February 1994 and, despite returning to do my exams, left with no GCSEs. My fault entirely. I don’t blame the system, my parents or anyone else. I just didn’t give a shit. So the actual concept of trying to focus kids who have spectacularly fucked up school, whether it is because they don’t care, had a shit upbringing, are thick or whatever is, in principle, a good one.
The one thing I do have a problem with, however, is the editing. To many people this show is an exercise in futility. Once the four weeks are over most of these kids will slope off back to their council flats, shitty bedrooms, sink estates and, in the case of the loathsome Henry, back to his million pound house with enough Le Cruset kitchenware to fell a tumescent bull elephant on the vinegar strokes.
On the flipside of that, these four weeks might, just might, make a difference to some of the kids. They might be inspired, they might go to college and, in the case of Danielle, who has been rewarded with a trip to Arizona for spending two days in a bubble with an eco-warrior, they may just exceed all expectations.
The irony in all this comes in the shape of Channel 4. A once proud channel founded on priciples that state, actually state, they are to commission challenging and intelligent TV, it is they who actually need to be taken to TV school. The whole editing process of Channel 4, skewed by 10 seasons of Big Brother, is, as Connor might say, “fucking jokes.”
David Starkey is shown as a man who would like to see them all fight while he ponders a deeply theoretical question that, essentially, focuses on just how much nonsense he’ll have to speak before he gets a pity-ridden handjob off one of the girls
Rather than focus on the good, we are left with endless soundbites and long sections that only focus on the bad and ugly. Take Harlem telling Jenny, “I’ll fucking batter you in this classroom.” An ugly scene, of that there is no doubt, but to show a full six minutes of it? Irresponsible, lazy and utterly fucking thick. We know that these kids have problems. We get all of that from the intro. What I’d prefer is a balanced programme that doesn’t just focus so heavily on the texting and ranting and threatening behaviour. And not only did they show it once, they bought Harlem’s Mum in and made us watch it again. That she spoke more sense than anyone is beside the point. One of the failings of the education system is the whole process of it, the endless meetings and focus groups and bleeding heart bullshit. This is also the problem with Channel 4.
What is laughable is that by constantly showing Connor texting, or Henry, square-headed rugger bugger that he really is, attempting to rip a hole in the ozone for a drag on a Mayfair Superking, they truly think that this is so socially real, so gritty, that it is an allegory for all that is wrong in society. It isn’t you turds, it’s just a teenager trying to smoke. All you are doing, Channel 4, is cutting your own throat by focusing entirely on the futility.
This shock and awe editing essentially dumbs down everything that is good about the programme. That Jamie Oliver talks a lot of shit amongst the good is undoubted, problem is that the soundbites they use make him appear to be a moron. Jamie must be a dream for them when they are getting him to do his voiceovers. “Tarquin, he’s riffing here, don’t stop him…”
So what we mostly get is Jamie saying things like, “I can’t believe dosh has made such an impression on them,” after watching the completely mental, jackal-lauging Alvin Hall make a mathematical breakthrough. Of course he can, money, or merely the concept of it, makes a difference to everyone.
The headmaster is heavily edited to look like a cunt who wants to beat up the kids, Alastair Campbell is cut to such a point that his horns have ACTUALLY shriveled inside his head and David Starkey is shown as a man who would like to see them all fight while he ponders a deeply theoretical question that, essentially, focuses on just how much nonsense he’ll have to speak before he gets a pity-ridden handjob off one of the girls. I’ll give it to them, they got that one right.
The problems with the programme are, funnily enough, the same problems that got these kids here in the first place. Not enough time in the classroom, too much time smoking in the playground and a lot of waffle in place of real vocational teaching.
Channel 4, my office, now, I think we need a little chat.
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