Life

TV review: Stacey Dooley investigation goes nowhere

Marco Robinson

Stacey Dooley Investigates: Billion Pound Party, BBC iPlayer

It would be ridiculous to blame Stacey Dooley for the closure of BBC 3 but it was just this kind of programme which made the channel a failure.

When the corporation was in its expansion phase in the last decade, BBC 3 was set up to provide news and entertainment for 16 to 30 year olds.

That meant 60 seconds of news, presumably because the BBC didn’t trust the attention span of millennials, and Dooley’s brand of documentary.

The station closed last year with its new output going straight to the iPlayer, but almost a decade after she started Dooley is still producing the same kind of innocent, wide-eyed programmes.

Billon Pound Party began as an exploration of the DUP and its views on same sex marriage and abortion, now that they are in a coalition of sorts with the Conservative government.

Same sex marriage and “abortion rights” appear to resonate with young people so it sat perfectly within Dooley’s genre.

But after a chat with a young DUP activist whose views were driven by her religion, Dooley and her producer drifted off into other attractions.

The bright glow of the bonfire led them off into discussions about culture and the rights and wrongs of burning national flags and the election posters of your enemies.

Dooley visited loyalist band practice, spoke to bonfire builders, heard young nationalists argue for a united Ireland but forgot completely about gay people and the abortion debate.

The DUP’s £1 billion deal with the Tories only got a mention when a band member congratulated the DUP on getting it.

At the end Dooley was concerned about “intolerance” in Northern Ireland and wanted assurances that Theresa May’s “deal with the DUP won’t deepen Northern Ireland’s bitter divide” without even explaining to her audience what the deal was.

With a veneer of making a programme for young people, this was film making without insight, substance or direction.

***

How To Get a House … For Free, Channel 4, Tuesday at 9pm

Sometimes charity can be philanthropic, but be careful because it can also be deemed exploitative.

Marco Robinson has got plenty of criticism after this Channel 4 documentary in which the property developer gave away one of his flats to a deserving family.

Robinson, who is worth £25 million, said he wanted to give back because he was once homeless himself and is concerned about the property crisis.

The Guardian was not impressed.

“Several centuries ago, Marco might have been observed in frock coat and powdered wig lobbing gold coins out of a horse-drawn carriage at toothless paupers. But these days a rich man can find a different kind of absolution by parading his charitable nature on TV while embarking on an all-important journey of self-discovery,” was its verdict.

So was it poverty-porn or public charity giving?

Robinson spent time with three applicants - a single mother, a woman who worked 60 hours a week but was losing her sight and a Syrian homeless family.

While their stories were deserving and emotional, it was uncomfortable to see them have to compete publicly to be the most deserving recipient of a flat said to be worth £120,000.

This was the difference with a previous show, Secret Millionaire, where it was charity organisations which appealed for help.

However, Robinson clearly genuinely wanted to help and was moved by the struggle of ordinary people to find a home of their own.

And he can reasonably argue that he would have had difficulty finding the most deserving people without the help of a television programme.

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