7 Days on the Breadline
OK so Anna Friel is back doing that really weird bolt-on Bolton accent she gets when somebody reminds her she’s a member of the working class. She narrates 7 Days on the Breadline like she’s just wandered off the set of Red Riding. I swear she never sounded like this in Brookside. The show itself has several celebrity bastards assisting povs on neighbouring housing estates in Yorkshire, each briefed to act as a weird hybrid of fly-on-the-wall correspondent and lifestyle troubleshooter by replacing a key family member. I don’t know what to make of this, something I have in common with everyone involved in the programme.
"The show itself has several celebrity bastards assisting povs on neighbouring housing estates in Yorkshire, each debriefed to act as a weird hybrid of fly on the wall correspondent and lifestyle troubleshooter by replacing a key family member"
Mel B takes on board a family of four, replacing single mother Simone. Determined to fit in, she turns up in a classic chav pink tracksuit to greet the Fokkers. Looking and sounding increasingly like her Bo Selecta character, Mel believes with every fibre of her being that she’s here to make a life changing intervention in the family’s fortunes which is kind of heartening (but mainly funny).
Keith Allen, whose previous family experience was abandoning a pop star and having six children by four different women, finds himself patriarch of six more when he replaces single mom Michaela and shacks up with her kids. Michaela warns him about the rat problem they have. He thinks she’s joking. She’s not. There’s only one thing for it. Take the kids to Asda and buy some responsibly sourced pizza bases. Yay! "He dun’t shop like normal people" says Scrotey McChavity, one of Michaela’s brood. "He picks things up and looks at them". Ah London changes people, Scrotey – he’ll be using cutlery all la-di-da before you know it.
“‘He dun’t shop like normal people’ says Scrotey McChavity, ‘He picks things up and looks at them’. Ah London changes people, Scrotey.”
Happy to be working with ordinary people again is Trinny Woodall who gets to help out with disabled granny Christine. Christine sleeps on the sofa and shits into a commode. Could you empty that for her, Trinny? Yes, she can. Christine is so embarrassed. They did tell her this was going out on the telly, right?
Happier times are ahead though when Trinny takes her to the bingo and wheels her in front of the slot machine. Did you ever get in trouble on these, she asks. A few years back, Christine admits. How much? £30,000 in debt comes the response. That’s some losing run, one pound coin at a time. Citizens Advice Bureau and a kindly judge seemed to squash that beef for her and boy was she relieved. There’s a slot machine manufacturer hanging from a light fixture in his bedsit as a result. Good work Christine!
"Drawing the short straw, or Austin Healey as I like to call him, are single mother Debra and Craig. Austin steps into Craig’s shoes for the week and is relieved to find that he doesn’t have to shag the missus (it’s just like a real marriage)"
Drawing the short straw, or Austin Healey as I like to call him, are single mother Debra and Craig. Austin steps into Craig’s shoes for the week and is relieved to find that he doesn’t have to shag the missus (it’s just like a real marriage).
Debra’s 16-year-old son, Luke has a security tag as he awaits sentencing for a burglary charge. Austin proves himself to be a top-notch counsellor by grilling Debra about her son’s criminal inclinations "How does that make you feel? Bad?" Cue: Debra in tears. Austin is not really helping. He later confronts Luke over the dinner table and proposes he lay off the cannabis for a week. Yes, because that will make all the difference.
“She storms in and demands a discount on account of her Dickensian poverty but there are some doors even a face as fierce as Mel’s can’t open”
Speaking of making a difference, Mel "if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and count loose change" B wants to get the fat kid to the shitty local gym. £3.50 entry, though? Not by the word of GIRL POWER. She storms in and demands a discount on account of her Dickensian poverty. Unfortunately, mute reception chump stonewalls and computer says no. So she storms back out with the withering exit line "you’ve got nice arms". There are some doors even a face as fierce as Mel’s can’t open.
Oh it’s so easy to mock – that’s why I do it. This show is a reminder, if anyone needed it, that there are desperate people with crappy lives, making poor choices, struggling their way through the days ever mindful of the creeping realisation that they have made a big fuck up of everything. AND THAT’S JUST ANNA FRIEL.1
The best thing about it: Every commode scene is a winner
The worst thing about it: Austin Healey offering life lessons to a member of the Kersal massive.
The verdict on 7 Days on the Breadline: Diminished responsibility.
Marks out of 10: 7
1 Fuck you. I had to get out of the article somehow.
Imagined: Wednesday October 21st, 2009