The Island With Bear Grylls
Monday, Channel 4
Made In Yorkshire
Tuesday, Channel 5
The Island With Bear Grylls has returned. This time the two teams charged with surviving on a Pacific island are the rich team (they each earn more than £100,000 a year) and the poor team (less than £27,000) and while I know rich people and poor people, and have known rich people and poor people all my life, how come I do not know, and have never known, any people like these people? Perhaps they are made in a factory somewhere. Perhaps they are even made in the same factory that manufactures contestants for The Apprentice.
Perhaps, once they come off the conveyor belt and are submitted to quality control, they must be checked for a complete lack of self-awareness and a complete willingness to play into the programme-makers’ hands before being packaged and delivered to the relevant TV channel. One day, this could be a subject for Gregg Wallace’s Inside The Factory or John Prescott’s Made In Yorkshire, which is, we now know, essentially Inside The Factory That Happens To Be In Yorkshire. (More on this later, excitingly.) The two teams did not get off to the best start, which is perfect, of course. ‘These are not my sort of people,’ said Shereen, from the rich team, on first encountering the poor team. ‘When I saw them coming down the beach it was like a northern dole bus had broken down,’ said Barnes, the art dealer.
The Island With Bear Grylls has returned. This time the two teams charged with surviving on a Pacific island
The two groups separated to opposite ends of the beach. Phil, from the poor team – ‘I’m an alpha male, me; we are going to smash it!’ – was heading for a fall and was quickly deposed, while Shirking Samantha sunbathed and swam and did not do ‘jobs’. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
However, I liked Erance (poor team) because he killed a snake and then quit the show. A lifelong vegetarian, his conscience couldn’t take it so you had to think: hello, here’s someone who won’t do stuff just to be on telly. And how my heart went out to James (rich team), the self-described ‘oddball’ who was bullied. He was thrilled to find a bottle of Lilt on the beach, yet when he laid it at his group’s feet they were mean and derisive. They couldn’t be kind? I wanted to charter a helicopter and bring James home and say ‘Lilt!’ and slap him on the back constantly. There were, admittedly, some signs of civility by the end, but as that would prove a disaster, they will inevitably all go back to being total cretins. I think the factory has to guarantee that.
On to Made In Yorkshire, where ‘John Prescott explores Yorkshire’s factories making some of the region’s best-loved foods’. He visited a sausage factory (Northallerton) and a chocolate factory (Skipton), although whether sausages and chocolates are better loved in Yorkshire than in Cornwall, for instance, I cannot say. ‘All political lives,’ Enoch Powell once famously remarked, ‘end in failure’, and while he did not add ‘or poking minced pork while wearing a hair net’ it was likely just an oversight.
The former Deputy PM’s interviewing skills were sorely tested. He met the chocolate factory’s taster and asked, ‘When you go home are you sick, or what?’ He offered a voiceover providing information like, ‘It was in the 1970s that the after-dinner mint went mainstream with the rise of the self-service supermarket.’ Why? Had everyone previously been embarrassed to ask for them over the counter? Were they the Anusol of their day? God bless him. He did try to ramp up the tension, as in ‘Later, Alison will help me pack the chocolates into the selection boxes’. And his political reflexes are still intact. When the boss of the chocolate factory said their manufacturing process combined ‘the old and new’, he cried, ‘For the many and not the few!’ It made no sense whatsoever, but it did rhyme. Gregg Wallace can sleep nights, I think.
I thought I’d revisit Civilisations which, this week, had Simon Schama considering ‘radiance’ in art, but if there was a thesis I didn’t get it. It was exclusively about painting, but surely all paintings involve ‘colour’ and ‘light’ or there would be nothing to see? It was a catch-all brief, and the artists were the usual suspects: Bellini, Titian, Goya, a quick trip to Japan (Hokusai, Kunisada), then back for Van Gogh, Monet, Matisse and hang on, whoa… 400 years of art history and you couldn’t include a single woman artist? Admittedly, you have to look a bit harder given the misogyny of the art world, but what about Clara Peeters, the 17th-century painter whose still-lifes are extraordinary and who was the most famous Flemish woman of her day? Maybe the paintings had to be in service to God, but then how do you justify including the impressionists? And there were women impressionists too (Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt). Oh, just edit us all out, Simon, why don’t you? In fact, pardon me for breathing… sorry.