reet talk

New social affairs show BEG T0 DIFFER is coming up from the streets and taking a blowtorch to Cool Britannia.

Words: Peter Ross

|.;ili<itii"s landslide election \‘lL‘lUl"\‘ of last year could he thanked. in part. to the party's rush to embrace the middle ground. 'l'on_\' Blair‘s ‘third way politics are hased on a common sense attitude to popularin align )‘otlt‘ opinion with that of most people and most people will like you.

But this Vote-grahhing strategy has left the l'nited Kingdom looking like a rather sale. unimaginative. coiiserx‘atixe place. ('ool Britannia is a hlandiiig-out of culture and. like some middle- aged husinessman. we're going solt round the middle. Put it this way: agreement is had for the sotil.

Here to esorcise the demons of consensus is Beg 'lii Differ. a new six-part magazine programme which has set itsell‘ the task of shaking tip the status quo. live '1}; Hillel“. presented and authored h} ligures from the margins of socier such as junkies. rent hogs and the homeless. intends to report on the hurning issues of the day and sweep the (‘ool Britannia idols from the Temple of British ('ulture.

At this point you may he thinking ‘()h (iod. this is going to he some awl'ul. depressing show designed to make me feel guilt} ahout having a nice lile'. \ot the case. live 'l‘m Dig/pier sets out to steer clear ol worthiness and middle—class guilt. The show ptits neat twists on the issues. ()ne presenter who sleeps rough mimics .\'ew' l.ahour notions of rehranding Britain h_\ taking homeless people to a marketing agency and gising them a 90s Britain makeover. In another item. Sam \Vaylen. also homeless. tackles (ilasgow‘s licensing law which outlaws the consumption ol‘ alcohol outside.

Zad Rogers

102 THE lIST " 2‘)

~ ‘998

'l'm very excited by the idea of a programme which would allow the voice of the underclass to come through.’

Couched in new terms: Beg To Differ presenters

'llow could such a thing happen in such a ltllfllltillsl} cosmopolitan and laiiiousl) hard—drinking cin as (ilasgow"." wonders \Va} len. who helie\es that the rule is oii|_\ applied to down-and-outs and other ‘undesirahles' while more affluent citi/ens drink l‘i'eely in parks and so on.

‘lidinhurgh (‘ouncil think that laws such as drunk and disorderly or hreach ol the peace can he used to keep the streets sale l‘oI‘ decent people to walk.‘ he continues. ‘.\la_\'he (ilasgow is more inclined to keep

people whose laces don‘t lit oil the streets and otit ol

the way of llttpp} shoppers and tourists.~

live ‘l'm [Hi/iv“ was made h} Scottisli-hased production coiiipan_\ Ideal \Vorld. l’roducer /.ad Rogers is enthusiastic ahout the project which he feels ollers a genuine alternati\ e to iiiainsti'eaiii hroadcasting.

‘lt seems to me that certain people ha\ e access to

the airanes. ll‘ _\ou're Andrew .\'eil or .lerem} l’a\nian _\ou get _\our

opinions across.‘ sa_\s Rogers. ‘l’m interested in hearing the opinions ol people who

class. who don‘t ha\e that

hackground. l’m \er} e\cited h)‘ the idea of a programme which would allow the Voice of the underclass to come through.

'\\'e want to shake tip the ol'lliodo\_\. make people look at those on the edge ol' societ_\ as iiidi\iduals with their own \oices. We want to get that dissent. that grit hack into (‘liaiinel 4 who got their knuckles rapped h} the |'|’(' for not heing experimental and daiigci'ous enough. This is the direct response to that.’

But making amhitious progi‘aiiimes using non— prol’essioiials with precarious personal li\ es l'or presenters is no milk run. During l'ilming. two presenters were sent to prison and all are difficult to c‘tiltliic‘l.

‘\\‘hen )ou‘re working with Rohhie ('oltrane _\ou send the limo round to his house in the morning and hring him to work.' sit}s Rogers. ‘But with a Programme like this. w here do )‘ou send the limo'.”

Beg To Differ begins on Channel 4, Mon 15 Jun, 11.30pm.

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