Last Night's TV: They're cottoning on to the real world

Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts, BBC3; Heather Mills: What Really Happened, Channel 4

Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts is wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee television, and delivers one of this fledgling genre's most important pleasures, which is that the coffee should be nasally administered with a high-pressure hose. So when Tara, Stacey, Richard, Georgina, Mark and Amrita were sent off to India to discover what underpins the fashion bargains on British high streets, the taxi from the airport didn't take them to an air-conditioned hotel for a couple of days of acclimatisation. It took them straight to a New Delhi slum, where they will be living alongside the garment workers whose lives and jobs they are going to share. "I'm not staying here," said Amrita, "we don't have immune systems like they do." Or a fraction of their courtesy and resilience, you found yourself tempted to add, after another 20 minutes of Amrita's unimaginative whining.

In a lot of respects, Amrita is an exemplary guinea pig: a British- born Asian who blithely announced that she is indifferent to the ethical pedigree of the clothes she buys. "I think cheap fashion's great," she said brightly before her departure. "It doesn't really affect me whether it's been made by a three-year-old or a 50-year-old." I think Amrita's too young to know that three-year-olds are really rubbish at producing a straight seam, but you get the idea. She doesn't really want to know how the costs are kept down as long as she can buy two tops for the price of one. In that, she probably speaks for about 95 per cent of British consumers, and the idea behind Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts is to make that blissful ignorance a little more difficult to maintain.

Our proxies in India had a relatively gentle introduction to global economics, being sent first to a huge modern factory that produces around three million garments a month for Western markets. In sweatshop terms, this was the Ritz, a place with a modern canteen and bright, clean working conditions. But the line-management style – pretty much any movement except breathing and stitching prohibited – didn't sit well with the new arrivals. Georgina got the hump with the supervisor, Mark got ticked off for talking and Amrita had a fit of the vapours."It's like everything's closing in on you and you can't breathe," she said, before stomping out for a little cry on the roof. If the locals still harboured any illusions about stiff upper lip and imperial resolve, they were evaporating fast and presumably vanished altogether after Richard indulged himself in a foul-mouthed rant about the condition of the streets.

Not everyone made you ashamed to be British. Stacey, a shop assistant, is a sweetheart, with a cheery "namaste" for everyone she meets and Tara, a fashion student, actually earned herself a place on the production line and a skilled worker's salary of around £1.50 per day. But in general, the sharp contrast between people who can't even endure an ordeal they have chosen to inflict upon themselves and people who have no choice but to endure one inflicted by circumstances, is chastening. Morale was very low by the end of the programme, with the group getting their first taste of what a real sweatshop looks and smells like, but there were signs that some of the arrogance and self-regard was beginning to flake off and be replaced with buyer's remorse. The programme itself, incidentally, is top-quality schmutter.

Jacques Peretti presented his film Heather Mills: What Really Happened as a counterpoint to the ex-Mrs McCartney's recent tabloid monstering. He would, he promised, talk both to people who liked her and people who didn't. When it turned out that one of her positive character witnesses ("She can be a very nice person") was also the woman who was claiming they'd worked together as "high-class hookers", you began to realise that balancing this narrative was going to be uphill work. Peretti never actually got anything straight from the horse's mouth, he just got to people who'd been authorised by the horse to reveal selected details, including Heather's ghostwriter, Pam Cockerill (very vaguely pro), and the sister of Heather's first husband (most decidedly anti, and reportedly tipped the wink by McCartney's lawyers that they'd be happy for her to take part in the filming).

We learnt quite a bit about Mills's somewhat tenuous relationship with the historical record (a minor incident from her childhood had been blown up by her into a full-scale paedophile abduction), but very little about whether her claims to charitable endeavour are actually justified. And the programme ended with an oddly naive moment when Peretti showed you home movies of her as a child playing with her siblings and her father. "I hadn't expected to see such happiness," he said. "Watching these home movies, I wondered if this man really was the brutal father Heather has always claimed he was." Given that everyone smiles in home movies, the footage had all the evidentiary weight of an unsigned Christmas card. You sensed that a straw was being clutched at.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

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.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn