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.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests