Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

The Estate: The cynical cameras depart, let's hope they don't return

Belfast Telegraph critic Joe Nawaz stirred controversy when he described BBC series The Estate as poverty porn. Here, he gives his last verdict as the show draws to an end

Street life: Ballysally resident Martin
Street life: Ballysally resident Martin
Street life: Ballysally resident Kyle
Street life: Ballysally resident Kelly-Anne Mitchell
Street life: Ballysally resident, mother-of-five Louise

Is it really all over? Has it really been eight weeks since we first tuned into BBC NI’s big fat reality show The Estate?

Farewell then, feckless free-swearing perma-texting teen Kelly-Anne. For all your annoying, close-up idiotic pronouncements, such as “I don’t do school”, you were sensible enough to carry condoms and in a darker moment of reflection admitted you felt empty. Your love-bites hid your low self-esteem but the camera caught it all.

Can it really be “goodbye” also to hardworking Jimmy and Denise and lovely little Lauren their disabled daughter? Thank goodness there was a concerned TV crew on hand to document those magic moments such as Lauren’s first catheter, or the time she was so distressed at yet another probing hospital check-up that she cried. Jim and Denise, we hope you managed to sell your house in the end. You deserved it.

Cheerio Emma the superhuman alcohol worker. You were the pivotal character in the drama in many respects: kind, generous and pretty and what’s more, you cared. You lost your job and had the traumatic experience of losing one of your clients, Gary, to the big brewery in the sky. You held yourself together for the unblinking camera eye after hearing the heartbreaking news. A visibly confused and upset Gary became the sorry subject of one of the episodes, which ended in his demise. The programme makers must have guessed it was what he would have wanted.

Take care, cheerful alco Martin. Your were resigned to “smoking my brains out and drinking my guts out”, but seemed to always retain your humour for the cameras. I hope it all turned out okay for you after alcohol worker Emma left.

Don’t be a stranger Adrian Dunbar. Your ceaseless attempts to describe the geographical proximity of Ballysally to Coleraine are only matched by my variations of “farewell”.

A pantomime “boo, hiss” to The Recession, the villain of the piece. Unfortunately Ballysally was so impoverished and neglected already that your malign presence was more subtle than anticipated. Save for the cheap BBC sound equipment that occasionally lapsed and seemed to require subtitles.

And a big “on yer way” to BBC Northern Ireland, without whom... well you know.

“Thank God they’re all away,” said single mum Louise at the very end of the last episode. She’s talking about Kelly-Anne joining the rest of her kids in returning to school. But the irony shouldn’t be be lost on anybody who felt unease at what amounts to a light entertainment smash ‘n’ grab on some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Let’s hope for the intrusive, cynical cameras it really is goodbye and not just au revoir.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife Galleries

More

Latest Entertainment News

Latest Music News

Latest Film & TV News

Latest Eating Out News

Horoscopes

Your Horoscopes by Russell Grant

Sagittarius:

Getting advanced training will open doors for you. If you get a chance to study overseas, grab it. Learning a foreign language will make you indispensible to the job market. It will also allow you to travel the world. You've always been restless and adventuresome. Being able to experience different ways of life will fill you with happiness. Although you will miss loved ones while you're away, you'll make friends wherever you go. That's what comes of being so popular.More