I’ve got an idea for TV show. It’s called ‘The Council Estate Garden’. In it, we show people who live on the poverty line how to grow simple fresh food and improve their standard of living. My one-line pitch to any interested TV execs is going to be: ‘A handy gardening lifestyle show that isn’t basically yuppie totty lifestyle porn’. James Wong’s guides to making your own anti-arthritis balm from a homemade beeswax poultice are all well and good. But are they playing that well on the allotments of Longsight or Southmead, I wonder?
Who’d present it? Hmmm, now that is a tough call. Yosser Hughes or Pauline Calf? Rita (although not Sue or Bob too) or Terry Christian? Yes, three of those are fictional characters. And the other tends to be treated as one. But I’m struggling right now to think of any working class TV presenters at all right now. And no, Vernon Kay doesn’t count, despite the funny accent, Family Fortunes, and the Page 3 girl text sex scandal.
I’m sure the if-it-ain’t-broke strand of programming that does saturate our airwaves – The Edible Garden, Cracking Antiques, The Resoration Man, Grand Designs, Grow Your Own Drugs, The Delicious Miss Dahl – is providing a valuable service to a certain sector of society. Somebody is going to find it handy to know how somebody else spent 500 grand renovating a knackered windmill on Anglesey, or how to value that family heirloom you found dustily secreted away in the loft.
But I just can’t help thinking that there is a rather large proportion of UK license-fee payers being a tad under-represented by our schedulers. And in time-honoured TV fashion, we could roll it out indefinitely, albeit with a few slight tweaks. Working Class Herbal Remedies. Fantasy Terraced Housing. Calor Gas Cookery. Tat in the Attic. Butlins Holiday Swap. Hell, we could even jump on the docusoap bandwagon. What about ‘The Garage’ – a gritty and quirky documentary about the denizens of a 24-hour Cheetham Hill petrol station? It’s a tough sell, for sure. But if we bought Sophie Dahl as a chef, surely we’ll buy anything…?