‘Rich House, Poor House’

There’s no getting around it – Channel 5 has a reputation. It’s a scuzzy low-class broadcaster renowned for poverty porn. Let’s all point and laugh at the disadvantaged people in society. It’s their fault they’re poor, unemployed, stupid, ill, struggling with debt – delete as required. There are very few reasons to watch the channel at all. But the tone of the adverts for Rich House, Poor House was quite different. This programme was billed as an experiment in happiness. Would it be repellant Victorian slum tourism, or something more worthy?

In episode one we meet the Caddy and Williams families, both big families by the UK standard. The premise is that they swap homes, budgets and lives for a typical week. Each family is selected from the richest and poorest 10% of the UK.

The Williams are at the poor end of the spectrum. Mum Kayleigh and Dad Antony have 6 kids, a product of a blended family. They rent a house in a council estate in Weston Super Mare and proudly they announce they are not on benefits. They survive on just £110 per week after rent and bills. Only 22 miles away from them in frighfully middle-class Clifton live James and Claire Caddy with their 5 kids. The family is older than the Williams with some children at university. Their spending money is a frankly staggering £1700 per week, mainly I think thanks to young and hip looking Dad James with floppy Brian Cox hair who is semi-retired after selling his software company.

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I Have Been Watching…

Shush! Turn the telly off – we’ve got guests!

Don’t worry – it’s guest blogger Susie Sue! She’s here to talk telly, and for her first Dead Pixel Test post it’s the demise/ rebirth of BBC3, comedy, tragedy and line-dancing. Read on!

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‘That’s So Last Century’ – Period Features

Just before Christmas I was desperate for a Game Boy. This statement is true, both in 1990 and 2015.

I really, really, really wanted a Game Boy mainly to play Tetris but also because it was cool and all the cool kids were getting one. As with many things when I was a kid I had my heart set on it, and could not be dissuaded by my parents, who may have mentioned awkward things like cost and it being a total waste of time. I didn’t care. I couldn’t hear them over the deafening sound of my sighs of longing.

What I did get was a grey plastic gaming device – it was a sort of executive toy that had a small screen and buttons, but the only game you could play on it was a sort of black and white Tetris knock off. I did play with it, and it’s probably still in a box in the loft, but it didn’t make much of an impression on me because I can’t even tell you what it was called.

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‘Celebrity Big Brother’ – Viewpoint

Don’t worry, it’s not suddenly become culturally relevant again, if it ever was. And you’re right, it’s not something I normally watch.

Do you remember back in the heady days of 2000 when Big Brother started, when it was billed by Channel 4 as a grand social experiment? Turns out the social experiment was on the British public – how long would we put up with this intrusive, demeaning, ridiculous shit for? And we were all sucked in – I was foolish enough to expect a quality programme. What I actually saw was a bunch of slightly unhinged people  stuck in a claustrophobic environment, becoming increasingly paranoid and unpleasant as the weeks dragged on. Every series ended up with arguing (usually full-on screaming and crying) about some perceived slight or whose turn it was to do the washing-up. Who needs telly? I could have looked in the mirror if I wanted to see that.

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