Love Thy Neighbour, Week Two: It's Getting Nasty

Week two in Grassington and, with more than a helping hand from the producers, the villagers are outraged when a nude model wants to show the menfolk her produce and a gay couple announce they are having IVF treatment...
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Last week the villagers of Grassington put aside their traditional, homegrown, bread-and-butter racial prejudices to vote Phillip, Simone and their three kids - who are (whisper it), black – into the final. This week the villagers’ latent homophobia got an outing as gay couple Donna & Louise arrive, and the locals reveal themselves to be even more mental than we first suspected.

If you missed the first episode, twelve families will compete to win a family home in the “idyllic” Yorkshire village of Grassington. The twist  (because producers at Channel 4 are a right sort) is that the villagers get to vote on who moves in. You can practically smell Kirstie Allsopp’s Chanel No. 5 on the cobbled streets of this “family orientated” Tory stronghold, where the boggle-eyed residents want to “protect our way of life,” whilst “finding new blood” to fill the vacant house. As the series goes on, I half expect the finale to culminate with the winning family being shoved into a giant wicker statue, before being set alight by Dora and Nora from the WI in horse head masks.

This week the two families ready to ‘bring it’ are single-mum Sarah, accompanied by her daughter Ayeasha and son Sol, and Donna & Louise, who are this week’s ‘taboo’ couple. The fact the being black or gay qualifies as a ‘taboo’ should give you a fair idea of Grassington’s social complexity.

Sarah is a nudey life-model, originally from Yorkshire, but living in Glastonbury. What drew her there isn’t clear; druidism, aliens, or a passionate but short-lived tryst with a strawberry-haired cider brewer are all distinct possibilities. She is blonde and caked in orange slap, described by one bespectacled man as “a reet bonny lass,” although maybe that’s because his glasses can see into the past. She has her kids in tow; the first Ayeasha is around 14 and has something of a young Vanessa Feltz about her. She has a rhododendron glued to her head, probably because she knew she was going to be on TV. The youngest Sol is a sweet kid, but unfortunately for him his mum has given him ‘cool guy tips’ (hair like early Lee from Blue) and named him after a crap Mexican beer.

What will they throw at Grassington next week? I’d guess at an Islamic family, some Hasidic Jews, Americans, Jedis, the Borrowers, Katie Price, Bodger and Badger or Paddy off of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. Place your bets.

Donna and Louise are an affable duo, friendly, funny and exhibiting absolutely no sign of being at all unhinged. Donna’s a tiler, which is just the kind of skilled profession the villagers were going crazy for last week (remember hunky Steve?), but, for some reason, they’re not so keen this time around.  When the pair drop the b-bomb – they’re conceiving through IVF, after being in a loving relationship for seven years, married for four – lips start getting seriously pursed. One woman looks as though she’s swallowed her own jaw in disgust.

“They’ve done it on the NHS, and there’s lots of male and lady couples who can’t conceive and need IVF,” says the pub’s barmaid, who seems to think that they should only be allowed treatment if all the heterosexual couples in the country have already had their go. A pair of elderly women sat behind a SPINNING WHEEL, who I can only guess are in the business of spinning actual YARN, say that it’s “against the laws of the Bible,” which is technically what you’d expect from people living under Henry VII.

All of this somewhat falls away when compared to the sins of Sarah, who announces that she’ll be auctioning herself off for a date to raise money for a local charity – “Brazen hussy!” say the village’s womenfolk, “It’s basic prostitution!” – and getting her wabs out in order to be painted by local “artists”. Her weekend of canvassing involves un-flinching flirting with middle-aged men (“I can’t wait till you win me!”), whilst telling the women; “I’m really happeh with my single status, I’m not doing it teh get a bloke at all.”

The tension with the local female population, who far outnumber the men, boils over when staff from the pub start ripping down posters advertising her “auction party”.  That evening she ‘goes for a walk’ (ie. is instructed by the producers to walk around in the dark looking lonely), and wanders past villagers getting krunk at a karaoke party thrown by Donna and Louise. “I’ve ad enough!” she roars, before tearing into the pub the next morning and calling them, memorably, “a bunch of interbred freaks!” Technically all humans are interbred, but she doesn’t hang around for anyone to make that point, booking herself and her kids on the next National Express back to Glastonbury.

With their competition on the M4, you’d think Donna and Louise had it in the bag. However, the producers deign that villagers can still vote for Sarah, just that, if she wins, no one will go through from this round. Lovely. Thankfully the lip-pursers either don’t make it to the polls or have had a sexual revoloution/minor stroke after all the free flowing shandy and YMCA sing-a-longs at Donna and Louise’s party. They get 77% of the vote, and are visibly relieved to only be explicitly hated by 23% of the population.

What will they throw at Grassington next week? I’d guess at an Islamic family, some Hasidic Jews, Americans, Jedis, the Borrowers, Katie Price, Bodger and Badger or Paddy off of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. Place your bets.

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