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The Hunt for Middle England (2007)

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5 March 2007 (UK)  »

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Referenced in Have I Got News for You: Episode #34.7 (2007) See more »

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Interesting light entertainment but too light and fuzzy to be intelligent or memorable
12 April 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Middle England. It is where elections are won and lost. Where morality is defined. Where moral laws are written. It is powerful. It is scary. It is supposedly the heart of the country. But where the devil is it? Is it an election stereotype? Is it to do with the car you drive? Who you vote for? The school your kids go to? How you spend your spare time? With politicians always talking of the importance of winning "middle England", Chris Addison sets out to locate it on his map of Britain.

The majority of viewers will of course be aware that Middle England is not a place so much as it is a type of person and as such, Addison's physical search is a waste of time. Of course he knows this too and the physical search is done with tongue in cheek. After this Addison leaves it firmly there as he goes on more of a thematic and cultural exploration of what makes a person or social group "middle England". This is all well and good and it does make for an amusing documentary which never takes the p1ss out of anyone that badly but it rarely takes anything too seriously for longer than a minute or two at a time. The downside of this of course is that it doesn't really amount to a great deal and I did feel like I ended up with the same understanding of the stereotype that I had at the start of the film.

This is not to say that it is valueless but perhaps just that it lacks a tightness or sharpness in the material that would have made it more interesting as well as funny. Instead it is the softness of the whole film that means it is interesting light entertainment rather than a documentary with a comic air. As such Addison does fit the film because he himself is a bit like this. Very good in In The Thick of It, he doesn't really have the air of a presenter and I didn't think he was able to lift the material at all.

Overall then an interesting piece of light entertainment. It could have been better if it had been tighter and sharper with a more focused approach and in a way I suppose I did just let it wash over me somewhat as a result. Engaging and unmemorable stuff but not as good as I would have liked from BBC4.


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