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
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
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
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.

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    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'