TELEVISION BRIEFING / The sins of wage

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The Independent Culture
LAST September Sima Ray quit the security of her job as a BBC radio journalist, pocketed four weeks' dole money and went in search of low-paid work in the North-west. 'Undercover', tonight's CUTTING EDGE (9pm C4), is the result of her secret mission with a hidden camera: the diary of a badly-paid shop assistant, laundrywoman and office cleaner. This kind of Candid Camera film-making, pioneered by World in Action, throws up questions of ethics (what about her co- workers' consent?), but it elicits far more revealing responses than a 'conventional' documentary would do. Managers are shown to be either contemptuous or ignorant of minimum-wage legislation - which is hardly surprising when only one in a thousand of the North-west's firms found guilty of paying below the legal minimum in 1991 was punished. A nice touch has Ray listening to John Major telling how he is going to 'close down the something- for-nothing society'. Welcome to the all-for-very-little society.

In BONJOUR LA CLASSE (8.30pm BBC1), a sitcom by Colin's Sandwich creators Paul Smith and Terry Kyan, Nigel Planer manages to play the berk without attracting any sympathy. His Laurence Didcott is the new French teacher at a minor public school, an idea that should have stayed on the drawing board.

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