Young, Posh And Penniless, ITV1

by | Dec 7, 2004 | All, Reviews

What was it all about?

Three privileged young people experienced life on the other side of the breadline when they jettison their luxurious lifestyles for 10 days to live with working class families.

What to say if you liked it

Three spoilt individuals, who believe money flows around the world as copiously as blood flows through their veins, are cruelly sucked dry of all their lavishness to the vicarious delight of the viewing public.

What to say if you didn’t like it

A documentary with little worth to the average viewer, but an invaluable cautionary educational video for posh parents to warn their children that they too will be sent to the working class dungeons if they misbehave.

What was good about it?

• A chance to feel the piquant sensations of outrage as the three youths showed a callous ignorance of the world outside their opulent bubble. The worst offender was 17-year-old Tom Smith, a plastic punk who remarked: “How can they hope to solve problems in Iraq when people here still wear jeans for four pounds?” How we laughed when his favourite shirt came back from the wash with a starched collar.

• The arrogant Ollie Milton was almost as obnoxious. The aspiring helicopter pilot said of polo: “It gives you a rush you can’t get from any other sport.” A translation of which roughly reads: “I can assert my class superiority through playing a sport you oiks are too poor to enjoy.”

• Donatella was the only one of the three to come out with a favourable impression, as she got stuck in to the grime and dirt of a job at a truckers’ motel.

• Farmer John, wife Jan and their two daughters, put up with Tom , really did seem to work hard, evident in their hulking physical frames that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a wrestling tag team.

What was bad about it?

• As the vulgarity of the three youngsters showed little indication of abating, it became increasingly apparent that the viewers’ opinions were being manipulated through the editing. And by about halfway, we held far more antipathy towards the producers than the subjects for duping us into such loathing towards Tom, Donatella and Ollie.

• It was little more than a peephole for the upper classes to condescendingly gaze at how poor folk manage to eke out an existence in the same way scientists observe insects.

• The forced morality of the contrite three at the conclusion (more subjective editing, probably) where they spoke of how they now appreciated more their wealth. But this was tainted by the earlier portrayals of them as superficial wastrels, meaning that the

viewer would assume once they had returned to their own abundant habitat, any lessons they learned would quickly be forgotten.

• We would like to believe that Tim, Donatella and Ollie took part to increase their breadth of understanding of humanity but it was more likely they want to become television presenters; indeed Donatella already has worked for insignificant cable channel Chelsea TV. And all three perhaps hold Tara Palmer Tomkinson and Tom Parker-Bowles in shining idolatry, who both prove that breeding and class are far more important than talent in the media.

• The host families’ assessments of the three youngsters lacked any real insight and seemed to adhere to the stereotype that poorer people are less intellectual. The best Ollie’s foster mother Val could come up with was that Ollie seemed “lonely”, while John and Jan could only come up with a list of mindless platitudes to describe Tom.

• Tom finding happiness doing what rural folk and the upper classes singularly have in common – hunting animals. Tom was seen shooting rabbits for no other purpose than his own pleasure.

• Donatella discovering that the poor folk she met “work hard and are a lot happier than a lot of people I know”, as if she were the first to stumble across the phenomenon that money doesn’t equate with happiness.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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