Last Night's Viewing: The Work Experience, E4
Brazil with Michael Palin, BBC1

 

I was at a party recently where the host, a man wealthy enough to be invited to such events, had just attended a charity auction in which holidays on private Scottish islands (stag shooting included) are sold to the highest bidder – that sort of thing. The particular lot that my host – the father of two university-aged sons – had his eye on was the offer an internship, although his opening bid of £500 was soon stampeded by far fatter sums. Internships are now worth their weight in gold, it seems, and they are the currency that The Work Experience trades in.

In case you missed the hostility that greeted this "sitcom with a difference", the idea is this: two real young job-seekers are offered what they think are genuine internships at a fashion PR agency, except that the agency is fictitious and staffed by actors working from a script designed to immerse the interns in increasingly embarrassing situations. It's Candid Camera meets Bruno, and of course it's as exploitative as hell, even if, at the end of each episode, the two stooges are offered real paid internships in fashion PR. It's a blatant fig leaf, although the characters in The Work Experience would probably think of fig leaves as an outré piece of outwear.

Certainly, the sitcom element of The Work Experience has to be very funny indeed to have any chance of outweighing the odiousness of the concept, and last night there was a nod to the show's origins in the Ricky Gervais school of comedy, when a dwarf was hired for a fashion shoot. It fell to Danielle from Essex to break it to the dwarf that he was too tall for the role – Danielle (perhaps disappointingly for the producers) coped admirably in a sensible, good-humoured way.

The second intern, a Canadian aptly named Brave, was placed in a rather sharper situation: did he take the blame for allowing ex-Big Brother micro-celebrity Nikki Grahame to borrow and ruin a £3,000 designer dress? Brave had asked the permission of one of the "head creatives" (played by Danny Babington), who was now denying the charge. Brave braved it but eventually shopped Dominic, who returned to wreak vengeance by throwing an orgy where Danielle and Brave had painstakingly set up a launch party. Hilarious? Actually, Channel 4's "straight" documentary series The Model Agency was far funnier than this, but at least Danielle was quietly amused.

The unpleasant taste left by The Work Experience was underscored by the final episode of Brazil with Michael Palin. While Nikki Grahame lies – or pretends to lie – in the gutter, with vomit all over her borrowed frock, poor Brazilians are being lifted out of the gutter by their nation's economic miracle, even if it means standing all day long picking recycled plastic off a conveyor belt. Suddenly, fashion PR doesn't seem so bad, perhaps, although the likes of Phillipe, a young man whose job is to spray-paint the aircraft being produced by Embraer, the world's third biggest makers of passenger aeroplanes (there's one for the pub quiz), radiated the sort of confidence in the future not seen in Britain since the early 1960s.

This was the final leg of Palin's journey, although it has felt less like a journey than a series of set-pieces, including a visit to the slightly sinister town of Blumenau, a sub-tropical picture-postcard version of Bavaria in the deep south of Brazil. Here, men in lederhosen speak German with 19th-century Pomeranian accents, and it's where Teutonic Brazilian supermodels like Gisele Bündchen are bred. Palin presented all this information, but he seemed somehow less fully engaged than in his more youthful travel series. Perhaps it's time to hand the gig over to a BBC intern… expenses only, of course.

Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
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 week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick