Archive | February, 2014

BBC1…Pound Shops Wars

6 Feb

The most common question asked at a PoundWorld?…”How much is this?”

With this we are introduced to new documentary series looking into the world of Pound shops. Anyone who has paid even the most casual attention to the range of shops on the high street could not have helped notice the emergence of these brand of uber discounters.

Poundland, PoundWorld, PoundStretcher and even in this ultra-discounted sector there is is a sub sector for those who find £1 a bit of a stretch, the 99p stores

Today we introduced to the £1 bra (accompanied by a raft of the inevitable and incredibly dreary puns!). PoundWorld launched  these as a new product range and two questions immediately spring to mind, will anyone buy it or how did they make it so cheap.

To answer the first question we have to take a segway to the 1989 film Field of Dream, where the hero is inspired build a baseball park by his belief that build it and they shall come and in the film against all odds he built it and they came.

The world of pound shops is somewhat similar, price it cheap enough and they will come to buy it. In the case of the £1 bra, with the help of some publicity from the titillating tabloid press involving a trampoline, PoundWorld sold an incredible 100,000 in ten days and over the rest of the summer sold over 700,000.

So how do they do it? The answer is China. Cheap materials, cheap manufacturing costs and all that is left is to price them low and stack them high is the formula the propels this phenomenon.

It is a somewhat sad indictment of what our society has become, so resolutely consumerist, consuming because it is there and cheap not because we have to. If the consumerism is our new religion these shops may not be the cathedrals of the religion they are more like the missionaries pushing and spreading the consumerism deep into the furthest reaches of society.

 

BBC3…Tough Young Teachers

4 Feb

The teachers were definitely young but tough? I am not so sure.

Every documentary I have ever watched about teaching simply reaffirms my belief that one of the wisest things I could have done was to avoid teaching as a profession.

Teaching is often said to be a noble profession and the satisfaction of bringing the best out of you proteges can be richly rewarding of that there is no doubt.

However plant yourself in a a modern comprehensive in the middle of  one of Britain’s cities and often teaching can rapidly change into something not too dissimilar to being a warden at a young offenders correction centre.

In Tough Young Teachers on BBC three we saw some extremely fresh faced teachers taking up the challenge of teaching classes of secondary school pupils would in reality were only a few years younger than they were.  Young kids, and particularly young boys its goes with out saying have short attentions spans and are prone to long bouts of hyperactivity, and for the young inexperienced teachers this proved particular daunting for many of the teachers.

There was the case of Walid, who even when he was at his calmest seemed like he had overdosed on a family sized bottle of fizzy pop. He was boisterous, noisy and disruptive and was clearly demanding, and it seem taking, a lion share of the teachers attention to the detriment of his colleagues.

He however does come across a bright pupil, sometime in less than honourable ways, such as when he brought his mum who isn’t fluent in English along for the Parent Teacher meeting and obviously had no choice but to step in as an interpreter. Needless to say his Mum left the school none the wiser.

We did witness an impressive transformation when he was taken by his young teacher (himself only 22 years) on a school trip to Jamie’s Farm, away from school in the rural open spaces he seemed to thrive and engage in what he was doing. We have seen such transformations in many documentaries about young people, but the truth is such opportunities will always be an exception.

Most teachers will need to achieve that engagement in much less idyllic locations, namely the classroom and to do that is what makes teaching really tough.

BBC 1…Room 101 Who says Germans aren’t funny…

1 Feb

Is Henning Wehn the funniest German you have ever seen?

Who says Germans can’t be funny, and by funny I mean funny haha, rather than funny peculiar.  If you have bought into the stereotypes of our German cousins being incredibly efficient but extremely dour then you have probably never met Henning Wehn. Who, you might ask?

Henning Wehn is not just a very funny comedian who happens to be German he is, to give him his full self-appointed title, The German Comedy Ambassador to Great Britain and I don’t think there is a better man for the job. You may know him from such shows as 8 out of 10 Cats and Would I Lie to you.

No content with spreading Teutonic mirth to these shows, today he graced the panel of Room 101 with Frank Skinner. He was delightful, his items to dispose of were Charity, The Royal Family and Birthdays in Restaurants.  His comedic rant about charities was particular funny, and he his quips on the Royal Family were funny but close to bone (no OBE for you Mr Ambassador).

If you are still in denial about the existence of German humour you can check it out for yourself on BBC iPlayer.