TELEVISION / BRIEFING: Living Orwell's other nightmare

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The Independent Culture
Homeless people must be getting fed-up with undercover journalists and their hidden cameras. Nick Danziger is the latest in a long line of reporters to pack his belongings into a battered rucksack and grow a shaggy beard in the interests of finding out what life is like on the streets. But, for all its familiarity, DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON (9pm C4), part of C4's 'Gimme Shelter' season, still makes for gripping television. Emulating George Orwell, Danziger starts in Paris, where an unshaven house- owner is liable to be rounded up and carted off to a distant homeless hostel. Rob Rohrer's film then follows the reporter to London, where life on the street is no friendlier. Danziger encounters an articulate Scotsman called Alan who, in an affecting aside, says he cannot remember the last time he switched on an electric light. Having failed to find work as a stage technician, Alan has been fighting a losing battle with the bottle. 'If someone can tell you what they drink in a day, then they don't really have a problem,' he reflects. Danziger ends up in a Soho resettlement centre, where the urine-stained squalor appals him. It's unsurprising that the DSS was reluctant to let him film there.

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