Dave's ‘24 Hours to Go Broke’ is dangerously irresponsible

Watching celebrities throw away £8,000 is the last thing we need now the economy has finally recovered

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The Independent Online

Last week the media was united in announcing the end of the recession. Following stories of falling unemployment levels and the economy’s restoration to its pre-crisis levels, the nation's mood on money is the lightest it has been for six years.

Now, Dave – comedy TV channel and purveyor of general mood-lightening – has aired the first in its five part series, 24 Hours to Go Broke.

Last night's episode - set in Armenia - followed two comedians (David Baddiel and Richard Herring) as they tried to spend £8,000 worth of Armenian Dram in the capital city of Yerevan. 

The duo were challenged to spend the entire sum in one day, and were not allowed to give any of the money away, or pay over the going rates for goods or services. At the end of each episode they must have spent all of the money but own nothing.

Having two comedians fritter £8,000 in the aftermath of a global financial crisis makes me cringe at how irresponsible it is.

Dave is watched by approximately 27 million people in the UK, many of whom will be feeling the pressure to splurge cash meaninglessly after being told they are now free to spend, spend, spend.  

Last week the media was united in announcing the end of the recession. Following stories of falling unemployment levels and the economy’s restoration to its pre-crisis levels, the mood on money is the lightest its been for six years.

In March, Lib Dem MP Steve Webb was rightly criticised for suggesting that pensioners should be able to choose whether to squander their savings on high-performance sports cars.

Should Dave not face similar criticism for suggesting that unthinkingly spending £8,000 on absolutely nothing is just light-hearted fun?

It surely isn’t a good idea to carry a feeling that the recession never happened; public spending cuts are – after all – still very much on the agenda for the 2015 election campaign.

Of course, 24 Hours to go Broke is not the only programme on TV to spend vast quantities on sending comedians or celebrities to explore different countries for viewers at home.

Baddiel and Herring discuss this in the course of the episode, asserting that “all television shows that are sending anyone, anywhere, are doing the same thing”.

Except they’re not; last night’s 24 Hours to go Broke was much more than just a gratuitous waste of money. It was apparently also an excuse to celebrate the UK’s emergence from former economic difficulties by belittling and laughing at a poorer nation than ourselves.

Armenia doesn’t get much in the way of press coverage, but you probably won't be too surprised to learn that it isn't the richest country. According to figures from the World Bank, 32.4 per cent of the population live below the poverty line.

Throughout the show there seemed to be a complete disregard for the Armenian people and their dignity. In one instance, Baddiel practically forces a young Armenian woman into taking money she is clearly uncomfortable with having, just so she can be his street guide. This is, at best, aggressive charity passed off as entertainment.

Aimlessly throwing this money away was a slap in the face, for both the Armenian people and for those at home still struggling in the aftermath of recession.

In the future, Dave should be more careful with the messages it sends. The worst might be over for now for the UK, but this doesn’t mean we should start throwing our money away. If the last financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we should try and keep it safe for the next one. 

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