TV review: Behind the scenes at the crackpot factory

A Brit of a nightmare: Heidi and Spencer. Photograph: Channel Five
26 Feb 2013 @ 8.28 pm
| Entertainment
A Brit of a nightmare: Heidi and Spencer. Photograph: Channel Five
A Brit of a nightmare: Heidi and Spencer. Photograph: Channel Five

lucy-bellerby-byline-photo-bwThe gruesome twosome from Celebrity Big Brother are back and Lucy Bellerby can’t quite believe her eyes


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You may remember my scathing attack on “Speidi” as they entered the Celebrity Big Brother house a few weeks ago. If you aren’t familiar with them, they are Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, a couple who rose to fame on the US reality show The Hills.

They rose to fame because they are absolutely crackers, and in Speidi: Scandal, Secrets and Surgery! (Channel 5) we get to see behind the scenes at the crackpot factory that is their lives. As part of their planned takeover of Britain (and the world), they go and do a book signing at WH Smiths. They employ a team of about seven bodyguards to protect them from their vast amounts of crazed fans; which in reality are a few bored looking teenagers who get a picture with the gruesome twosome before buying themselves some pick’n’mix and a new Pukka Pad.

Spencer has styled himself as a media villain; an obnoxious player who pimps put his wife to various magazines and TV shows so they can get rich. But the problem is that his persona is not an act; he is truly terrifying. He has the kind of crazy eyes that are usually the last thing you’d see before being bashed over the head and buried under the patio. If you look carefully, you can see Spencer’s hand up the back of Heidi’s shirt, operating her waxy features via a series of strings and pulleys.

And Heidi… oh Heidi. It’s well publicised that she had a ton of surgery a couple of years ago including a chin reduction, brow lift, second nose job and liposuction. Now she totters around with her Barbie body looking absolutely miserable – I want to fly out to LA, tackle Spencer to the floor, and give her a hug. However my sympathy for her suddenly dissipated when she whipped out her gun collection and stated that she was proud to be an American because it meant she could shoot someone if she wanted to.

Well Speidi, I’m glad you like it over there, because that’s where you’re staying. We’ve already got the over sharing, manipulative nightmare that is Jordan in Britain, and she’s got Croydon Waterstones booked up till March.

Now to a programme that makes the artificial, diamante-encrusted life of Speidi look needless and ugly. People Like Us (BBC Three) follows the residents of an estate called Harpurhey in Manchester; a place that has been named as the most deprived area in the UK.

The Wishy Washy Laundrette is run by the Wakefield family. Blonde, cackling Carol and her daughters spend their lives making long suffering dad Paul run around after them, through a fug of hairspray and smoke. They have just acquired about eight bulldog puppies, and their house is a riot of teenagers blasting out Nicki Minaj songs on their iPhones while Carol Febreze’s everything in sight and screams at her husband out of the window.

Then there’s landlord Nick and his tenant Pidge; both locked in a battle over Pidge’s late night partying that’s driving the neighbours mad. Nick looks and acts exactly like Jim from C4’s Friday Night Dinner; he doesn’t say where he comes from but I’d put a tenner on it being Royston Vasey. He reckons anti-social behaviour is all down to kids not playing board games anymore; when he was at uni he spent all his spare time playing Monopoly, Cluedo and Risk, and he’s never felt the need to nick cider from the Co-op.

Nik and Pidge, People Like Us. Photograph: Des Willie for BBC/Dragonfly
Nik and Pidge, People Like Us. Photograph: Des Willie for BBC/Dragonfly

My favourites are Patrick and Arroll, who manage to save enough cash to go raving in “Chavos” (Kavos). They get holiday T-shirts made up with Roy and Hayley Cropper on from Corrie, and sit about in their tiny flat fake tanning and ruminating on life, concluding that “30 is dead in gay years”.

It’s a shock to see the kind of extreme poverty people are still living in in the UK. Life is hard for a lot of the residents of Harpurhey, but it never seems to stop them from being warm and funny. Many of them are happy with their lot in life, and the ones that aren’t strive for bigger and better things, dreaming of leaving the estate and becoming famous. People Like Us is a brilliant snapshot of real life, and if you watch one thing this week, this should be it.