Last Night's Television: Welcome to Lagos, BBC2, Outnumbered, BBC1

Rich pickings in the waste land

In part one of the BBC2's new three-part documentary, Welcome to Lagos, we got a fascinating look at the enterprising and, at times, ingenious way in which a city's inhabitants respond to population explosion. Irritatingly, our narrator seemed determined to give us something else entirely. Surveying the rubbish-strewn landscape and day-to-day poverty of the city's working class, his rosy tones were full to bursting with pollyannarisms, like a tourist admiring the "quaintness" of foreign cultures. It was all so vibrant, he observed. Everything was there to inspire. I wonder what the programme's industrious stars, so determined to work themselves out of their current situations, would make of it all. Maybe they'd laugh and give up. If money makes you so enamoured with poverty, what on earth is the point of having it?

It didn't matter, in the end. Lagos had plenty to compensate, and watching the way of life was fascinating stuff in itself. And, in truth, last night wasn't without its uplifting moments. Watching Eric (nickname: "Slender") slogging his guts out as a "scavenger" on the Olusosun rubbish dump in order to fund his music career couldn't be anything but inspiring. It's especially so when we get to seem him, scavenging rags discarded in favour of "cool T-shirt", in the studio, recording his album. Inspiring, and endearing, but also a little tragic. Eric's life is one of permanent identity-shifting. His music-industry acquaintances know nothing of his toiling life on the dump. They just know Slender, self-styled hotshot, firmly en route to fame.

Equally stirring was the story of Joseph, who works on the dump "out of love for (his) family". "If there was somewhere even stinkier," he reflected. "I would go there. If it paid more." He marvels at the quality of the cast-offs he finds: a toasted-sandwich maker that functions fully, other bits and bobs that need but a tweak to get them going. How much the lucky waste. Joseph took us home, bursting with pride to meet his "beautiful wife" and "the future miss worlds", his daughters Peace and Patience. He was about to hold a birthday party for his youngest, and wanted the best on offer – cakes, sweets, toys, the lot – so had started working extra nights to pay for it. Talking of his own childhood made him cry, and he wants things to be different for them.

And there's no doubt that Lagos's growth (by 2015 it is predicted to be the third largest city in the world) has given rise to some phenomenal entrepreneurs. The dump itself was testimony to that: it's fully stocked with cafes, bars, mosques and even manicurists, should its inhabitants require them. According to our narrator, Olusosun and its 1,000 residents have managed to remain largely unknown to Lagos's 16 million inhabitants, a fact which, if true, is staggering. Still, while we might marvel at the ingenuity of its residents' business schemes, and admire their determined work ethic, it's impossible to get away from the gnawing poignancy of it all. Eric's big dreams all came rather horribly undone when, after a night out on the town to promote his record (ironically, he appeared to be on the verge of hitting the big time), he returned home only to get embroiled in a brawl. He wound up near-blinding his opponent and being thrown into the clink. He got off, fortunately, though only after borrowing thousands for a lawyer and an out-of-court settlement.

I saw Hugh Dennis once, carrying an enormous backpack and walking down Regent Street a few days before Christmas. Actually, I had to check to see if there were cameras following him, so much like his Outnumbered character, flustered dad-of-three Pete, did he appear. I think he caught my gawping, because he pulled that face he does on Mock the Week – lip curled, eyebrow up, face deadpan – so I looked away. Still don't know if there were cameras.

I get the impression this happens a lot. Because, after all, Outnumbered is a lot like real life. It's not the script that does it – that's good, though, like any of these two point four children sitcoms, a little cheesy too. No, it's the children. They don't seem to be acting at all. Take last night, when they thought they'd won half a million pounds from Reader's Digest. "We can buy school and close it down!" yelled Ben. "We could save the polar bears!" yelled Karen. On and on they went with their shopping list. Were they making it up as they went along? That's what it looked like. It's a little frightening, really. Children, I mean. They're monstrous, aren't they? Monstrous but also quite funny, especially for those of us who don't have them for real. It's a form of war tourism: look how Karen makes her granny squirm with her questions about weight! Isn't it awful? Thank god I don't have one. Phew.

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor