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Will new BBC show demonize younger workers?

by on June 5, 2015

Over the last week, a growing number of commentators have raised concerns about the BBC’s new reality style TV show which is currently in production.  Titled ‘Britain’s Hardest Grafter’ the show has been criticized as Hunger Games meets Benefits Street in a number of articles appearing in the Guardian and the Independent, with campaign groups such as Graduate Fog also calling for the show to be cancelled.  There was much criticism that the BBC was slow to report the story, finally discussing the petition (available here) launched against the show on the 1st June.

According to reports the show will feature the under 25’s who are either unemployed, under-employed or earning the minimum wage.  This advert for participants was posted on a university website and explains: “In each episode, people will be put to the test in a series of challenges and tasks. At the end of each episode, those who have produced the least will be eliminated and by the end of the process, just one worker will remain.  The winner will receive in the region of £15,500 which is a year’s living wage (outside of London)”.

Elsewhere however there has been reference to the show exploring whether younger workers have “not inherited the work ethic of older generations” with comparisons against ‘immigrants’ also given.  The BBC have maintained that the show is a serious current affairs programme with a representative of the production company Twentytwenty stating “When people see the final product we’re confident they’ll feel the subject was dealt with sensitively.”  We can’t help feeling this is misplaced optimism because the show seems ill conceived and poorly thought through.  I am sure there a many better ways of discussing the issues young people face in the workplace and in helping them gain work experience without subjecting them to public humiliation and some spurious assessment of productivity.

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