Where to begin? Well, in the beginning, there was Stephen Fry, or so his omniscient narration implies. ‘I want to restore your faith in human nature,’ he says, portentously, of a series which aims to depict human nature at its best, counterbalancing those nasty tabloid headlines about the rise of racism, crime, self-interest and so on.
Will the citizens of London or Manchester stand up to a cartoonishly racist waiter? Will the denizens of Brighton try to steal an untended bike? Will anyone pilfer a sack of £30,000 left in a phone booth? Hidden cameras allow us to find out, but the situations tell us no more about the human race than the aforementioned headlines. Motivations are rarely probed; instead, Fry – at his most pompous and self-satisfied, congratulates or chastises us according to the behaviour on display. Yes, that’s Stephen Fry, who did time for credit card fraud.
But it’s not all down to him. His representative on earth, Rick Edwards, challenges those diners who keep schtum in the face of prejudice. ‘It’s like “The Silence of the Lambs”,’ Edwards comments, dimwittedly. Well, only in the sense that we’d rather eat a census taker’s liver than watch this pernicious, patronising nonsense again.