TV review: Up All Night: The Nightclub Toilet, Channel 4
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Thursday 17 October 2013
Channel 4 has recently had great success with its fly-on-the-wall documentary The Fried Chicken Shop. That series overflowed with local characters, each worthy of their own spin-off, but the pickings were a lot slimmer at JJ Whispers in Crawley. It's not that people in Crawley are less interesting than people in Clapham. It's just that almost everyone is a bore when they're drunk. Especially if you happen to be sober.
Just ask the toilet attendants. These self-employed men and women, who set up stall in loos selling lollipops for tips, have earned a place in clubbing culture (replete with theme tunes, as we learned last night), and it was interesting to see the night from their perspective.
Dami in the Ladies and Desmond in the Gents were both unfailingly polite, even when confronted with unwanted overtures, revolting requests and, in one particularly shameful case, a drunken customer trying to cheat Desmond out of £20 of his already meagre earnings.
If you have any imagination, however, you would already have guessed that working that close to a urinal can't be particularly pleasant. In Up All Night, the footage of men urinating was accompanied by orchestral music and a nature documentary-style voiceover, but don't let that fool you. There were no insights into the human condition to be had here, only depressing confirmations of known truths, the kind we drink to forget.
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