TV review: Once more unto the bleach, dear friends

Let us spray… Hayley from Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners. Photograph: Channel 4
18 Feb 2013 @ 9.10 pm
| Entertainment
Let us spray… Hayley from Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners. Photograph: Channel 4
Let us spray… Hayley from Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners. Photograph: Channel 4

lucy-bellerby-byline-photo-bwFilth before the watershed has Lucy Bellerby reaching for her Marigolds


bellers-on-the-box-logo-230

I approached Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners (Channel 4, Wednesday) with some trepidation; I was slightly worried that I would identify with the Jif-clutching Hoover fanatics to an unhealthy degree.

I like to keep to a tea towel washing schedule and once created a Mr Muscle/bleach/boiling water concoction that could kill any living organism with just a sniff, but I have nothing on the cleaners in this show. One of them, Linda, is shown Hoovering her own dog, and some of the others polish their floors five times a day.

The plan is for them to meet people at the other end of the spectrum, who live peacefully amongst baths blackened with grime and rats scampering across their hairy carpet, and to convert them to their neurotic brillo pad ways. “But wait!” I hear you cry. “Isn’t that the exact same premise as How Clean Is Your House with the big-bosomed powerhouse Kim and the tiny wiry Scottish fearmonger Aggie?”. Yes, yes it is, but Kim is now above such things after doing a stint in the I’m A Celebrity jungle, and Aggie is presumably off somewhere shouting at men who live alone in dirty bedsits and sternly shoving evidence of poo particles up their noses.

First off, we go to ex-antique dealer Christoper’s house. Christoper is a wizened hippy Gandalf in the worst possible sense, and his house is revolting. He shows his cleaning mentor Andy round his piles of junk and mouldy pans, swishing his patchwork poncho through the cobwebs and catching spiders in his hair.

Then the swat team sort out a community drop-in centre, which is covered in bits of old food and crumpled special brew containers. A perma-tanned woman called Hayley is on hand to cheerily splash about several bottles of neat bleach, nearly poisoning the other workers as they stumble out half blind. They do all help each other to see that living at extreme ends of the grottiness scale is not a good idea, but I know which side I’m on. Someone hand me my Marigolds, for its time to do some spring cleaning and the dog looks like it needs a quick vacuum.

On Monday night, my Facebook and Twitter news feeds were filled with people going “eh..?” after watching Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror (Channel 4, Monday). Which is, I think, exactly what Mr Brooker was aiming for. If you watched the last series, you’ll know that the programmes aren’t for the faint hearted; being mainly about terrifying Hunger Games style technology led worlds.

The first episode of season 2 was no different. It featured a young couple called Martha and Ash. Ash dies in a car accident, and after his death, Martha orders a robot version of him that has downloaded all his social networking updates into its hard drive so it can speak and act like him. Robot Ash ambles naked around the house, spouting regurgitated tweets from 2007 and generally making unsettling viewing, especially when said viewer is surrounded by a TV, laptop, iPhone and Kindle, the gently pulsating lights slowly rotting my brain. I started thinking “what if I die? And my loved ones are distraught (obviously) and buy a robot of me and all it talks about is ‘big fat gypsy weddings LOL’ and ‘look at this picture of my dog eating its own sick!’ and ‘#PRAYFORBIEBER’?”.

Hayley Atwell as Martha in Black Mirror: Be Right Back. Photograph: Liam Daniels for Channel 4
Hayley Atwell as Martha in Black Mirror: Be Right Back. Photograph: Liam Daniels for Channel 4

That’s the thing about Charlie Brooker; he cuts close to the bone. I’m now petrified that all technology is going to take over and that I’m going to find an errant face-bot hiding in the attic, silently projecting instagrams of sausages and cats onto the wall. I’m trying to cut down on my screen time but it’s no use; the end is nigh. And you can bet that when it comes, I’ll be live tweeting the apocalypse.