Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Get me out of here, I'm a native Here's contemporary television's contribution to our understanding of community in recession-hit England, from a programme planned for Channel 4, in which: Eight people move into a house in a beautiful rural village. Collectively and individually they do things that will benefit the village and the villagers. Each week the village hold a ballot to decide who should leave. In the end, the last remaining member of the group wins the house and the rural life they crave. TV being what it is, there have to be dubious personalities, tense competition, video diaries, enviable gain, and a little dastardly dealing. I suppose there will be no shortage of locals willing to step forward and play along in the voting: if not, presumably dummy-villagers have to be brought in as extras. And the rest of us who are expected to be watching will no doubt be invited likewise to vote off our screens the least civic-minded, least neighbourly, least convivial souls. It will soon become the punishable sin of our age to be indifferent about local sociability. Apparently the village of Grassington is under consideration, and minor concerns have been raised. If you want to apply as an individual inspired to win an idyllic rural home worth £300k, then you have until the end of the month. You'll have to answer questions like: 'What do you think you could offer to a village community?' If the present government is still around by the time the programmes go out, they might quite like it as a device for helping to mend broken Britain. But has Mr Cameron got time to participate? I fear not. No matter - cue a little Elgar, chocolate-box rural village images which then fade to some prime ministerial lyricism about the Big Society and, er, what have you got? That's right, the reinforcement of a comfy mythology about neighbourhood connections, while the reality of local community involvement against social injustice will be accumulating brutally elsewhere. Nah, ignore me, I'm jess an ol' cynic.

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