Television Review

DOCUSOAPS ARE a bit like terraced housing. You get loads of them all in a row, each with the same basic layout, cramped dimensions and deceptive utilisation of available space. It's the people you find inside them that give them their individual character. They're also cheap to build, and surprisingly valuable on the modern market, which is why ITV has announced plans this week to build another terrace with 30 docusoaps.

As they wake up this morning and drive in fuel-injected company cars to offices thick with the fug of hard-sell patter, estate agents everywhere can allow themselves to feel even more smug than usual. In their very own bespoke docusoap, they have sold the biggest one of all: that a universally vilified profession is peopled by some quite nice chaps, actually.

It may well be that The Estate Agents (ITV) found its eponymous subjects on their best behaviour. If you've ever dealt with one, you wouldn't put it past them. There was a telling scene where one agent, showing some clients round a property, flashed a quick, isn't-this-nice-grin at the camera, as if he had something to sell to the programme, too, which of course he did, though he wouldn't be charging a two per cent commission on it.

A reaffirmation of the unvarnished grotesques would have been more entertaining, but the series, about the travails of an agency in Bristol, cut its losses and chose instead to home in on the venalities in the agency's clients. In order to be closer to God's house, one vendor was putting her own house, complete with gold-plated mermaid fittings in the bathroom, on the market. However, she wouldn't move to within walking distance of the church for less than pounds 300,000.

If it wasn't greed, it was lust. A much younger female buyer with hotpants used the viewings as a chance to flirt with the fetching male trainee agent (and, it must be said, to make several blatant passes at the camera while she was at it). We met this poor boy's perfectly nice girlfriend, and understood why he seemed reluctant to play ball with a woman he didn't know in order to sell her a flat. By the end of the programme, he had been sacked though, mercifully, not on film. "He hasn't got it," said his boss, "it" being an ability to seduce clients, but also the parallel ability to seduce a camera.

Was there a furtive message in the running order which found The Estate Agents making way for Deadly Crocodiles (ITV)? Both programmes were about a species which eats innocent victims for breakfast. Television last encountered Steve Irwin practically snogging the deadliest snakes on the planet, but he also runs a crocodile sanctuary where he enjoys lobbing the carcasses of pigs into the gargantuan jaws of the residents. His mission here was to track down, trap and give such a nasty fright to a 14ft male crocodile that he'd give up eating the visitors in northern Queensland. The fright took the form of a deterrent: Irwin spent an entire night flashing powerful lights at him. A more efficient method might have been to show him one of his own performances on television: far more garish, far more inescapable.

It's one thing, like most natural history presenters, to impart a sense of enthusiasm for your subject; another to come at your audience like a hyperactive presenter of Play Away. But however hard he mugged, there was no upstaging the crocodiles, any more than there's any upstaging Jennifer Paterson, who lobbed a lobster into the boiling pot with a quite fearless disregard for her own squeamishness. "You've just got to face up to it," she said. She has a similarly dauntless approach to other culinary tasks. "You mustn't be frightened of mayonnaise." A lot of people probably will be now.

The return of the Two Fat Ladies (BBC2) has done nothing to assuage my suspicion that they are in fact the Two Ronnies making a comeback in disguise. This episode, in which they motored to a Benedictine nunnery in Connemara, was a giveaway. The mother superior wasn't letting the two school cooks anywhere near her nuns, for reasons that were apparent the moment they did accost one in a field tending a herd of cows. Paterson: "Do you have help with your cows?" Nun: "I have a man once a week." Paterson: "Goodness!"

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

    £20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

    Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

    War with Isis

    Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
    Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

    A spring in your step?

    Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

    Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
    Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

    Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

    For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
    Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

    Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

    As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
    The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

    UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

    Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

    Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
    Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

    Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

    If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
    10 best compact cameras

    A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

    If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
    Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

    Paul Scholes column

    Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
    Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
    Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?