Nick and Margaret: We Pay Your Benefits

Thu Jul 11, 9-10pm, BBC1

Only one section of society is more annoying than people who eke out a long-term living on the welfare state: the self-righteous pricks too proud to accept handouts, preferring instead to constantly bitch about those who do. But who’s worse? Only one way to find out – send silver-haired scowlers Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford round for a chat, then pair five scroungers up with five grafters and see if they manage to learn anything from each other.

Such collision of social ideologies has the potential to be exploitative, but for the most part, it’s measured and tasteful. These aren’t super-rich bankers rolling up to council estates with hankies over their mouths – they're people in very similar situations with differing attitudes to the benefits system. Topical, relevant, responsible telly? Sort of. Not even the BBC can resist the temptation to vilify a sponger: look out for some – shall we say – ‘selective’ editing when single mother-of-two Kelly heads to the pub for her weekly darts night. She’s drinking a vodka and tonic! And another! How dare she!

For fans of gentle condescension and well-trodden clichés about work ethics, it’s a real treat. Expect more of the same in next week’s conclusion, when the boots change feet and the dole-queuers get a taste of working life.