Rich Kid, Poor Kid

This marvellous show was like a minute Dickens novella. Of course it was unfair: the odds against the poor little rich girl coming out ahead were very small. And yet one’s heart went out to her.

Alice was the gobby confused little chav with a big Chrysler (a Chrysler!) in the drive and a dad in banking. Natalie was the articulate brave teenager looking after her younger brother in the face of their mother’s depression in a council flat which had all the charm of a Roumanian orphanage. (Note, however: externally and fundamentally, it was a handsome place.)

I am not altogether sure that we had the whole picture. As in the case of the much feebler show with John Prescott, one feared set-ups and directorial manoevres were at work.

Never mind. What a narrative arc! These two girls at first seemed almost sub-human. Alice was like a minor character in a Restoration comedy, with her pinched little mouth and her dim mum. Natalie wobbled and blobbed and swore to the bemusement of her barely sensate mother.

But then Alice turned out to be attending a mixed-class theatre group and was (like her mum), frankly, at least three-quarters right about what it’s like living alongside the underclass. And Natalie’s mum turned out to be fighting depression and to have a gleaming self-awareness.

Of course, Natalie turned out to be the revelation. She very much liked Alice’s way of life – her style and house – but wasn’t daunted or envious. She seemed merely motivated. She had already (do we detect moves in the background?) started to work the system better, on behalf of her whole family.

It is only fair to say that almost everyone talks nonsense about class. We were lucky Natlie never did. And as for Alice, hers was only average nonsense. She should be fine, and doesn’t need to change her views on life half as much as she probably now believes.

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Publication date

16 November 2008


On TV & Radio