Poor Kids, BBC1, Tuesday
Angry Boys, BBC3, Tuesday
In with the Flynns, BBC1, Wednesday

Auntie ought to take better care of these waifs and strays

Bombarded as we are by facts, stats, emails, tweets, "breaking news" stories and general tittle-tattle, the only way to survive the information age is to prioritise the onslaught.

No one gets it right all the time and it would be foolish to expect this from our national public-service broadcaster. But consider the times and channels chosen to transmit the three programmes above and ask yourself: does the BBC really consider a tired family-based sitcom the most important piece of TV on that list?

The subjects of Jezza Neumann's heartbreaking documentary Poor Kids – hidden away in the after-the-evening-news graveyard slot – had long ago learnt to prioritise. Do I eat lunch or "save my hunger up for when dinner comes?" asked Sam, an 11-year-old boy from Leicester. Is it better to have bedroom blinds with mould growing on them or no blinds at all, pondered 10-year-old Paige from her Gorbals high-rise. Is it worth growing up, when scratching your eczema until it bleeds is the best way you know to make yourself "feel calmer", wondered eight-year-old Courtney from the Canterbury estate in Bradford.

Not one of these children was quite what you might expect from the 3.5 million young people said to be living below the poverty line in 21st-century Britain. And that was surely the point of its Bafta-winning programme-maker. No one here covered their face with a hooded sweatshirt. Their behaviour was considered and, the odd venture into a nearby derelict building aside, they were decidedly unferal. Instead, these were old souls trapped inside young people's bodies, and it was this chasm between the natural hope of childhood and the reality of their individual situations that seemed to be causing these kids the stress that they had come to accept as a normal part of their lives.

The devil of their deprivation was all in the detail: the drawer on its side used as a bedroom table; the way Paige clamped her hand over her open mouth when seeing the damp on the ceiling of a neighbour and friend's bathroom; the fact that Sam thought the electricity meter had run out when his family turned out the lights to bring in his birthday cake.

That the gap between the rich and the poor has never been wider in the history of the welfare state was just one more statistic for the programme to bombard us with. But somewhere along the way we seem to have become immune to such facts and figures. Shown at another stage in our history, at another time of day, Poor Kids might have led to questions being raised in Parliament. Instead, the public response went largely along the lines of (a real sample this): "Oh for Christ's sake – 3.5 million in poverty? Really? What does that mean – having to make do with a TV under 40 inches and only a second-generation iPhone?" How easy it is to scoff from our comfortable homes with our hearts hardened by red-top tales of benefit scroungers.

So it's good to know that the public can still get worked up and rally around when it wants to. The announcer on BBC3 was overjoyed to tell us that Chris Lilley's Angry Boys was "trending on Twitter". There, the Australian creator of Summer Heights High was widely agreed to be a "comedy genius". The evidence of the first episode suggested otherwise.

We were reintroduced to Daniel and his "deaf, retarded" twin Nathan from Lilley's first mockumentary We Can be Heroes. And if giving people the middle finger is your idea of humour, then Dan and Nath are up there with Bill Hicks. So it was not until the introduction of rapper S.mouse in the second episode (aired the same night) that Lilley saw fit to add the element of satire – crucial, surely, in any comedy of cruelty. The middle-class kid pretending to be from the 'hood has been done before, of course, but at least S.mouse had the lines to suit his unique moniker ("cos it's got punctuation in the middle and you don't often see that shit").

Poor S.mouse is just trying to entertain the kids. And if Nathan is "inspired to do stupid things" after listening to songs such as "Poo on You", then that's not S.mouse's fault. As he tells us: "I'm just the artist. I just create art." A line which is, just, funny enough to buy Lilley the benefit of the doubt for episode three.

A similarly redeeming element was not to be found in In with the Flynns, which offered nothing we haven't seen before in sitcoms from Bless this House to My Family. Bland, predictable and without a single character to cling to, the only thing to be said for BBC1's new prime-time offering is that at least Sam can spend the pound he has to feed into the slot on the TV on something of greater priority.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

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

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
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.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam