TV | Slum Survivors – BBC Three’s missed opportunity

Since it was announced that BBC Three was to be removed as an on-air channel, there has been a great deal of programming that has rendered this move, at times, questionable.

However, BBC Three’s latest documentary leaves a lot to be desired. Slum Survivors sees young Brits, who think they’ve got it tough in the UK’s current job market, being sent abroad to try their trade as an apprentice. The catch? The conditions are even tougher than in their home country, as they attempt the ultimate urban survival in the world’s largest slums.

The first instalment of this three part series sees three aspiring mechanics battle for appraisal in the slum of Lagos. Idris, head of the garage-come-scrap heap, reminds the Brits of the strict time limits of every task. His own apprentices would face a flogging if they failed to meet his demands, he repeatedly rebukes.

Scottish teen Kayleigh is perhaps the most interesting figure of the programme. Feeling she faces prejudice as a female mechanic back in the UK, she is confronted with a brutal truth in Lagos, where young women are frequently duped into trafficking by the promise of education and employment abroad. There is arguably no harder place to be a woman, something which spurs Kayleigh into employment upon her return to the UK.

As for the other two young men, 19-year-old Liverpudlian, Sean, and 17-year-old mummy’s boy, Muj, there seems to be a certain lack of ‘journey’. Although Muj realises he is wrong to be sponging off his mother and sisters, it is never made clear whether or not he has a background in mechanics, let alone if he wants to pursue it.

Though well intended, BBC Three has seemingly missed an opportunity to appeal to the young and the unemployed with its choice of without-work Britons. Though they realise their lives could be wrought with greater hardships, their despondency fails to inject inspiration into those facing the fight for employment.


Katie Dawtry

Image courtesy of the BBC

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