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Paul O’Grady’s Working Britain

Paul O’Grady’s Working Britain

Thu Aug 15, 9-10pm, BBC1

By Yolanda Zappaterra
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Episode one
These days Paul O’Grady lives on a small estate in rural Kent, but his roots are firmly working class, as he proudly makes clear on this personal journey peppered with his trademark observations, recollections of jobs held by older relatives, and self-deprecating witticisms. It’s all determinedly populist, from O’Grady’s everyman voiceover to the cliched motifs used alongside it: cheesy mid-century light music, clips of ‘Upstairs Downstairs’, stock shots of factory workers, flowerbeds filled with the oversaturated colours of frilly bedding plants.

But beyond these early tropes, the action broadens out to immerse us in the wider history of working Britain and its key protagonists; O’Grady interviews people involved in the Jarrow trade union march, crusading black workers who fought against institutional racism in the ’60s, and of course the miners who went on strike in the ’70s and ’80s. If you like O’Grady, you’ll likely enjoy his personal walk down memory lane; non-fans might find there’s too little here to make the journey with him worth taking.
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