TV review: The Intern (Channel 4) and Dogging Tales (Channel 4)


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The Independent Culture

"We are wasting so much talent," protested Hilary Devey at the beginning of The Intern, a new show that promises to deploy a "radical recruitment method" to get Britain's young jobless on the career ladder. As a top businesswoman and high-profile Dragon, Hilary dislikes waste and she has, I think, spotted something that other television presenters have missed.

All those eager young people, so desperate that they'll do pretty much anything to get a job, represent a resource not a problem. You can make telly out of them. Think of it. People with a few more options might jib at being involved in a trivialising mash-up of Candid Camera and The Apprentice. But these guys don't have much of a choice. Job's a good 'un.

Hilary's just the picture on the tin, of course, a sort of Betty Crocker for this instant-mix reality show, with her Cruella de Vil styling and rasping no-nonsense delivery. She does the boilerplate stuff about putting her name on the line – "I've chosen them and they're not going to denigrate my name and reputation with that company" – but the truth is that she's already besmirched her reputation by getting involved at all. She also unhelpfully raised the question, with that remark, of what kind of selection process the candidates went through to make it on screen. Presumably, precisely the kind of CV-scanning, personal interview affair that The Intern suggests is outdated in the modern world.

Anyway, those who did manage to impress the Intern casting directors get the chance for a week's on-the-job try-out in the industry of their choice, tweaked for our entertainment by a series of booby traps arranged with the help of actors. So 22-year-old Georgia is given the task of walking a hotel guest's precious dogs, unaware that one of them has been trained to run away the moment it's left off the leash. And Princess, a big Made in Chelsea fan, discovers one of its stars, Hugo, chained to a bedpost in the room she's supposed to be cleaning. How will they cope under pressure? Can Princess keep her mouth shut about Hugo's embarrassing predicament? Can Georgia find the lurcher in time?

On this evidence, one of the important skills in the hotel trade is the ability to lie with a straight face, both to and on behalf of the customers. But I doubt that a jobless young person watching would have learnt anything useful about the world of work – the only possible excuse for a format that takes hopeful innocents and torments them for our entertainment. And that also requires two of them to get another rejection to add to the great stack they've already had to absorb. "I could not have wished for a better outcome," said Hilary jubilantly when Georgia was offered a job. In that case, Hilary, you're not very imaginative, are you, since it might have been nice if Princess and Taelre had got something a little more substantial than a pat on the back. Next from Channel 4 – "Making Tramps Fight for Cider".

The depression induced by The Intern was not lifted by Dogging Tales, though it was very skilfully directed by Leo Maguire, who brings a photographer's eye to his subjects. The problem here was not the film-maker but his subject – al fresco sex with strangers. The participants like to call it "play", but the reality is a seamy affair that all too often involves women with low self-esteem following the orders of men with far too much. Maguire's decision to disguise his contributors in animal masks made some of the interviews very funny indeed, as when a paunchy lorry-driving fox praised the social side of dogging. And I warmed to the man who confessed that he found it "very moreish". But overall it had all the erotic allure of a used condom.