Swap My Council House, BBC1 - TV review


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There was something jarringly jolly about Swap My Council House, BBC1's documentary about the consequences of this country's housing shortage. That title, the upbeat music on the soundtrack and the voiceover, all suggested a game show sensibility trapped in the format of a dour social-affairs documentary.

We met council tenants from all over the country who were attempting to organise moves from their current homes. Former model and actress Jenny in Surrey was a well-spoken elderly eccentric on the Barbara Cartland model. She felt sure that her decision to paint every wall pink had nothing to do with her swapping struggles. In Manchester, another Jenny had an ill-conceived plan to move her family of four (plus menagerie of pets) into a new home in Plymouth at exactly the same time as the previous tenants, a family of seven, were moving out.

It was often chaotic, but at least almost everyone in Swap My Council House was moving out of choice. There were no examples of the more controversial situations in which council tenants have recently been evicted. Their stories might