CHARLIE Mullins looks like a member of a 1990s boy band who’s been badly cryogenically frozen. All collars, cuffs and pinstripes as thick as copper piping, he’s the proud owner of Pimlico Plumbers, a London-based company that’s successful enough to keep him in an apparently endless supply of naff shirts.
Show Me Your Money
Channel 4, Wednesday, 10pm
Thelma’s Gypsy Girls
Channel 4, Sunday, 9pm
Super Tiny Animals
STV, Wednesday, 8pm
His company has no pay structure (“you look like you’re working hard, have a few more quid” is the bold Charlie’s approach) so someone in a Channel 4 brainstorming session decided it would make for great japes for all his workers to disclose their salaries, writing them down and sticking them up on a board for all to see. Show Me Your Money is monumentally odd.
Many of the plumbers earn six-figure salaries. One of them, Lurch, who refuses to disclose his own magic number, says that the smell of a blocked drain is the smell of pound notes. By contrast, Tina, who works in the canteen, earns £14,500. “I go at the bottom, here,” she says sadly, as she pins her salary on the board. Others are paid as much as £10,000 less for doing the same job as their colleagues.
As might be predicted, the shit hits the u-bend, and Charlie jumps in his Bentley and heads for Spain, leaving his employees to sort out their own pay discrepancies. He is shocked, yet his own £1 million salary remains untouched, as does that of his son, Scott, a manager who takes home £120,000 (“dad’s company, get off my case” is his contribution). That Charlie believes staff have a moral obligation to sacrifice chunks of their own pay in order that their colleagues should receive a fair wage (or, in one case, merely a living wage) is bizarre.
PR manager Carl is on £56,000 but thinks he’s worth £19,000 more than that, so he’s made to don a hair net and do Tina’s job for a day, after which he’s shamed into handing over £1,000 of his own salary to bump hers up. Sure, Carl does come across as a bit of a ballcock, but the fact that poor Tina’s salary is such that she’s left with just £5 disposable income a week is the responsibility of her employer.
By the end of the programme a soaring soundtrack seems to suggest that all loose ends have been tied up. The “solution” is “the dog’s bollocks”, says Charlie. But Tina, even after her meagre rise, is still paid a tenth of one of the plumbers in the company. That is, indeed, bollocks.
Thelma’s Gypsy Girls – a spin-off of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings – follows Thelma Madine, designer of amusingly hideous frocks for the traveller community, as she trains up ten young gypsy women to work in her factory.
We already know the formula: everyone doubts the project, someone gets a sequin in their eye, someone quits, someone is fired, Thelma succeeds against all odds. This is the first episode so things aren’t looking good. In other words, they’re right on track.
Thelma’s home is Barbie’s Dream House relocated to a Liverpool suburb; white carpets, white leather, pink pelmets. Thelma says she once went to prison for benefit fraud. But she’s done her time and now she only stands accused of crimes against good taste.
She looks philosophical, says a producer. She doesn’t know what that means. Time to start interviewing the girls. She doesn’t care if they can read, write or sew, she just wants commitment from them. One prospective candidate doesn’t know what commitment means. This is going to be hard going.
Cut to Thelma’s factory. There’s a corset room. Thelma sleeps in the corner on a quilt under a pile of net petticoats. No, really. The girls are misbehaving. It looks like it might all prove too much for poor Thelma, that she might snap and turn on them all with her bedazzling gun, but something tells me that she’ll triumph in the end…
Super Tiny Animals is not only as pointless a programme as it sounds; it’s misleading. Good things, it suggests, come in small, furry packages. Wearing pink tutus. 27-year-old Lindsay from Kent pushes her pet chihuahua, Rocky, around in a pram: “Rocky’s my fur baby because he’s furry and he’s my baby.”
Truffles the guinea pig broke the world record for a guinea pig doing a long jump. Then there are cats that fit into tea cups, pigs that jump through hoops, horses that go on planes. For the most part, however, there are animals that are more average-sized.
A herd of babydoll sheep look only marginally smaller than regular sheep. The performing pig would feed a family for a month. As for limber Truffles, he’s positively buff; a fine, muscular specimen of a guinea pig.
I am left somewhat disappointed. While I wasn’t expecting mammals of Higgs Bosonian proportions, these animals simply aren’t Super Tiny enough. «
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