Last Night's TV: Love Thy Neighbour/Channel 4
Comic Relief: Famous, Rich and in the Slums/BBC1
Working Girl/BBC3

I have wonderful neighbours. Really, you couldn't ask for more. They fulfil two of the most important of neighbourly criteria. That is (1) they live next door and (2) you'd never know it. I rarely see them. When I do, we exchange fleeting pleasantries, a smile here, a nod there. When I locked myself out, one of them made me tea and offered me a sofa to sit on. In return, I bought her some chocolates.*

Something (or, more accurately, Channel 4's Love Thy Neighbour) tells me that the residents of Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales require rather more. So much so, in fact, that they're auditioning them. Over the next six episodes, 12 families will compete against one another for the chance to move into a cottage in the town worth £300,000 . They'll be paired up and, week by week, will try to outdo one another from the comfort of their B&B rooms.

But there's a twist. Of course there is. The population of Grassington, we're told, boasts around three times the national average of over-65s. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink. It's a solid Tory seat. To be a local, you've got to have at least three generations buried in the graveyard. And so it is that our contestants, their identity revealed, are a rather more modern bunch. Take Steve and Nicky, who are – reader, prepare to be shocked – not married. Not only that but Nicky has – wait for it – three children. From another relationship! Competing with them for the villagers' affections in week one are Simone, Phillip and their three sons. Currently living in Epsom Downs, they are – unlike virtually every resident of Grassington – not white. "However will they fit in?" runs the reasoning.

The answer, as it turned out, was rather well. Indeed, Channel 4 appears considerably more prudish about their contestants than anyone in Grassington. "What do you think the locals will make of a black family?" asked a silent interviewer, repeatedly, of the sweet-looking ladies drinking tea and manning shops. Everyone agreed they'll stand out. No one appeard to find it a problem. Oh the relief producers must have felt when they found a man who says "coloured".

Once the novelty had worn off, the two couples spent the week winning potential neighbours over. After an introductory session at the local pub, the pair "hit the campaign trail". Phillip, a wannabe Tory MP, set about establishing a mock MP's surgery, a strategy that seemed (to me) almost guaranteed to lose him votes. Shows how well I'd go down in rural Britain. With at least two visitors, Phillip's surgery still out-did Nicky's drinks party (which got none); their variety show proved even more popular. A whole 10 acts participated. Steve, a tight T-shirt-wearing carpenter, won a few fans among the ladies of Grassington. Alas, 'twas not enough. Next week, a same-sex couple hoping for a baby with the help of IVF will compete against a "single mum and life model". It's not subtle, this.

Midway through Comic Relief: Famous, Rich and in the Slums, I imagine our "well-known faces" were rather wishing they were in Kilimanjaro. They're not, not this year – they're in Kibera in Kenya, and it is, by any account, fairly bleak. Kibera is home to several hundred thousand people, all of whom live there illegally, which means no electricity, no government-provided sanitation and little health care. One in five babies born don't last past the age of five; up to a thousand people share the same public toilets, which flow into the streets in open sewers and are emptied into the water from which the city drinks. Our celebrities – or "well-known faces", as they're rather quaintly termed – had to immerse themselves, individually seeking out jobs and raising money.

And so it was that Lenny Henry, Samantha Womack, Reggie Yates and Angela Rippon found themselves housed in shacks and hunting for work. All, to their credit, did rather well: Henry selling samosas by the side of the road, Yates clearing out the public toilets. Rippon, displaying characteristic good sense, declined an open avenue in prostitution, and found a teaching job instead. Along the way, inevitably, they got a tiny taste of the discomfort that characterises daily life here. It was nothing, really, in the scheme of things, though it was more than enough to make for compelling viewing.

A shame the same can't be said for Working Girl. Kaycie Yates is a perma-tan twentysomething who doesn't think women should work. Or so she said. It's a stance that doesn't prevent her from asking her mother for money at every available opportunity. Currently living in a flat paid for by the council, with her salon habit funded by jobseeker's allowance, she is a layabout of villainous proportions. Perhaps they should send her to Grassington.

They didn't, more's the pity. Instead, she was dispatched to the workplace. She lasted barely a few hours in job number one, and so it was off to a second, at Edinburgh's Hotel Missoni. In among the scrounger-shaming were a few scattergun attempts to offer relevance. One of Yates's ancestors was a domestic servant. Ergo a career in hotel work is inevitable. It's a bizarre mishmash of formulas, and not one that pays off. But for Yates, at least, things are looking up. A brief stint in hospital resulted in a transformation so dramatic as to suggest a personality transplant had occurred. As it turned out, Yates made a jolly good waitress. Who'd have thunk it?

*Incidentally, I’m selling my flat. East London. 2 bed. Any takers?

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
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.

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'