Did we like it?
Britain seems to have become a helpless nation. Everyone now needs a TV pogramme to sort out their problems (with their wardrobe, cooking ability, love life, obesity, ugliness, fecklessness ad infinitum). It’s becoming an obsession. Sometimes it makes great TV entertainment (thanks to the likes of Jamie Oliver and Tracey Cox). Sometimes it’s hideous (due to the likes of Kim Woodburn and Gillian McKeith). This one – with Monty Don trying to straighten out young offenders – fell somewhere between the two extremes.
What was good about it?
• The TV gardener’s sincere desire to help youngsters who can’t get themselves out of drug-induced trouble.
• The support from Rocky who had quit the police after 30 years to join the Worcester Probation Service when he realised locking up drug-addicted criminals was not the solution.
• The people who volunteered to provide land for the project at The Rock where Monty’s group of offenders will cultivate the land – and, Monty hopes, good habits.
• The enthusiasm of the offenders when removed from their messy homes and taken into the countryside. “It’s a lovely view, and a lovely day,” said one. “Even us drug addicts realise the country is beautiful.” Another asked: “Can we cut up our own pigs?”
What was bad about it?
• The TV gardener’s egotism. He struggled to keep it under control. Although pictures of him as in New Romantic regalia won’t have done his reputation much good.
• The nasty people from the village of Monkland who refused to allow the project to take place in their backyard.
• The millionth use of I Predict a Riot by the Kaiser Chiefs when the nasty people of Monkland were casting their votes in the referendum that enabled them to record their nimbyish credentials.
• The disgusting who’ll-cop-it? poser at the start of the programme, showing footage of a funeral but then leaving us guessing until the end which of the offenders had died (it was Martin, who overdosed on heroin on the eve of his latest court appearance). That sickening sensationalism marred the integrity of the whole programme.
• The narration, as is often the case in these sort of programmes, was overblown. eg “Monty Don is a man on a mission,”
• The parade of chav fashions (obligatory baseball caps, white trainers and tacky jewellery)