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Aggie MacKenzie ...
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Kim Woodburn ...
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hygiene | non fiction | See All (2) »

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Reality-TV

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21 September 2004 (UK)  »

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(6 episodes)

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Yet more lazy 'oh look at them' television, made all the tackier by throwing the old chestnut of social class into the mix
4 December 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Having successfully (we are told) improved the home hygiene of Britain by fighting dirt wherever they find it, Aggie and Kim continue their quest by focusing on individuals who are financially well off but have developed a host of poor hygiene habits or, as the title says it, are just Too Posh to Wash. Taking these snobs by the ear or by using a bargepole, they show the subject (and us) just how disgusting they are and then set about cleaning them up and changing them for the better.

British television has learnt a lot from a couple of programmes – Big Brother and Weakest Link to name two. The things producers learnt from these and similar shows is that: a) the British public like seeing real people and gossiping about them, and b) they like looking down on others at the same time. Hence we have a raft of programmes that allow us to sit in our homes and scoff at others while thinking 'well, I'm better than them' to comfort ourselves. This programme is yet another in that vein, where people desperate for TV exposure allow themselves to be inspected for the sort of hygiene that would make a tramp blush. How on earth anyone could be so desperate or shameless to show such filthy habits is beyond me, but they do here. This programme needed another hook to make the initially thin idea stretch further – so it threw class into the mix as well, aware that the average viewer of this sort of stuff is working class or middle class families, eating processed food in front of the telly. Yes, the show went for the easy target - posh people, so not only can we look down on others, but we can also look down on those who society say are 'better than us'. It is as lazy and tacky as it sounds.

Now that Aggie and Kim are celebrities, making adverts and so on, it was important to get them back on TV – but only having one string to their bows means that the same idea has to be twisted to breathe new life into it. As with 'How Clean is your House', the hosts have to be over the top and harsh in order to make the grade and it should be enough to say that Aggie & Kim only intend to humiliate and react rather than help or educate. They do that well enough and the series was successful because people would watch it for something to talk about the next day at work. It is all a bit demeaning for the subjects and the audience if you ask me and, unlike Wife Swap for example, it has no basis in being about to spin itself as helpful or useful – it is just cruel and holds the subjects up to public ridicule under the pretence of helping them.

Overall this sort of programme has an audience and I'm rarely part of it. It is cheap television that is cruel and judgemental but both those things allow it to get talked about in offices by people who laugh down their sleeves at the subjects and comfort themselves that, no matter how they are living, they are better people that those they see on TV – as if that is any yard stick by which to judge your life.


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