Holiday Hijack, Channel 4 | TV reviews, news & interviews
Holiday Hijack, Channel 4
Part holiday prog, part reality, part lecture. All manipulative
Dan, a tall ginger streak of entitlement, had an issue with the hygiene. Channel 4 were about to lift him out of a five-star hotel in the Gambia and send him off to see how the other half lives. “They’re not going to be as clean as us,” he predicted nervously. Dan worried that he might have to survive sans moisturiser and hair gel. He hadn’t been warned about the lack of cutlery. And of loo roll. Nor that you approached each problem with the same manual solution.
Who volunteers to make themselves look like utter tits for these films? Luxury-loving Londoners is who, said Tamsin Greig, slumming it on voiceover duties. (In C4’s factual department, they haven’t heard that alliteration is very non-U.) A quartet of gargoyles had been duped into going on a swanky African hol from which after only one night they would be teleported out of their comfort zone and forced to experience real life staying with a family in a house made of mud. Either that or we had been duped into believing they had been duped. Only a very thick person accepts a free holiday from a television crew without smelling one of the less popular rodents. Perhaps these people were indeed stupid. They were certainly edited to sound it, as well as vain, narrow-minded, boorish... sod it, you fill in the dots.
Dan spent the entire programme breaking down when ushered into the presence of potential contamination
"I love five-star luxury,” argued Louise, something fluffy in PR, freshly installed among the deep-pile white towels. “Or six, or seven.” You suspect she may have been making those last two up. Her mucker Natalie, consisting mostly of peroxide and silicon, was on the same page pampering-wise. “If everything’s not exactly the way I want it I will be demanding,” she warned sweetly. Alex, a tiny actress, had been cast as the person who didn’t have anything to say. And then there was Dan, a graduate (voiceover-speak for “unemployed”).
Dan spent the entire programme breaking down when ushered into the presence of potential contamination. Taken to a seaside fish market to muck in with the catch, he refused to wear protective shoes, or gloves, or carry a plastic bucket of fish on his head. “I don’t know where that’s been,” he argued. “If I haven’t seen that being cleaned I’m not putting that on my head.” Dan was clearly suffering from a form of OCD.
Holiday Hijack stations itself somewhere on the spectrum between reality TV with all the trimmings, a Day-Glo holiday magazine show and a finger-wagging ethical lecture. Not the most comfortable ménage à trois. The argument was that demanding First World comfort in Third World locations succeeds only in raping the local economy. To make its point it used the grammar of the life swap doc we’ve seen umpteen times before. (Actually not in my case: I take roughly the same position on spoilt Brits having their heartstrings tugged as Dan does on dirt.)
While the programme deplored one form of exploitation, it cheerfully exploited its participants to the hilt. By the end, with prop-your-eyes-open-with-matchsticks predictability, they were full of born-again righteousness about towel-laundry abuse and could have bathed in their own tears. A nicer side to brash personalities, carefully dumped onto the cutting-room floor thus far, was now revealed. And all thanks to the good offices of television's miracle-working moral taskforce. "They are better people than I could ever dream to be," advised the actress Alex of her lovely hosts, her Damascene conversion packed into one line of dialogue. You wish her better luck at her next audition.
I’d like to propose a reality TV series in which TV controllers are forced actually to sit and watch a rolling loop of the reality TV series they commission - starting with all three eps of Holiday Hijack - in the course of which they come to see the error of their polluting ways, weep a river of remorse for spewing out so much manipulative effluence with cakemix for brains and then maybe vow to be more respectful of the cultural environment. On the other hand, you get the TV controllers you deserve.
- Watch Holiday Hijack on 4oD
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
24 hours in the king of Pop Art's shoes
Panorama of Pop art from Alastair Sooke ahead of the Tate Modern show
Cogent narrative of the pioneering achievements of ancient Athens
Notes on an 18th-century scandal, with visuals dominating over character
Attempt to turn tweets into telly had too much to live up to
Charles Manson and the squalid underbelly of the hippie dream
Details of the Manhattan Project abound, to the exclusion of its wider implications
A bleak vision of a haunted dystopia in a brand new light entertainment show
Historian's voyage around the Himalyan prince creates disorientation
From cloakroom attendant at The Cavern club to national treasure
Pungent Victorian crime drama returns to network television
The elaborate lives and loves of the exhaustingly self-obsessed Bloomsbury Group