A new horror has emerged from the Stygian depths we know as BBC Three. It is called 'The Call Centre', a show purporting to be fly on the wall inside the Welsh headquarters of Saving Britain Money. This epic hellhole is overseen by a man presumably brought back from some past medical dilemma by the blood of David Brent. The script of The Office flows in his DNA to the point one can legitimately question the authenticity of the whole project. In fact it is probably healthy to be that cynical because what lies within is beyond description.
That overseer is known simply and only as 'Nev', presumably shorthand for 'Never Again', in the way one speaks of concentration camps. Speaking of which this particular gulag is populated by a crew of sales hungry back combed spray tan enthusiasts whose life stories comprise the narrative of the programme. In the first episode, of the two broadcast thus far, we meet Hayley who's love life she mistakenly made available to 'Nev'. This became the ultimate challenge, in his mind: to find Hayley a fella - never mind how she might feel about it. In the process this bumbling fifty something lump of insensitivity proceeds to embarrass her in the way industrial tribunals are not fond of. His behaviour waves off any notion of sensitivity or tact - all of which, in Brent fashion, he would regard as good humoured, vacillating between cringe inducing and genuine harassment.
During the same episode 'Nev' is interviewing new recruits with two prime examples of the man's laughable pandering to his much much younger workforce. Firstly, during a group interview/welcome session one person at the back of the room makes the mistake of yawning. This compels 'Nev' into a fake rage, as some demonstration of the kind of vim and vigour he wants to inspire in his sales force, culminating in the launching of a savoury projectile at the yawning captive. You don't yawn on 'Nev's' watch! Secondly and as a dismal ending to this farce, an 18 year old wannabe called Natalie is paraded through the sales floor like a piece of meat while 'Nev', like a Town Cryer reading Fifty Shades of Grey, proclaims "Beautiful Welsh girl coming through, you'd give her a job wouldn't you lads?"
There's tears, tantrums (one girl is demoted to tea lady through her tardiness, blissfully unaware she's been reduced in stature from callmaker to teamaker and mistress of the urn), spray tan and sick, and a girl (the same tea girl) in hotpants with a face like an orange rabbit clearing it up. Dont' worry, it was her sick.
Saving Britain Money. I'm not entirely sure how; the narrative is interspersed with clips of the staff being soundly rejected by the Britain whose Money they are inexplicably trying to Save. It isn't explained how the company works and it doesn't seem to matter. These are the people that ring you up at Inappropriate O'Clock to sell you, variously, PIP claims or Cavity Wall insulation grants - basically whatever the latest bullshit scam is, they are on it. The only success these people can claim comes from, presumably, the sheer volume of calls they make. The law of averages is in their favour, not the quality of their service or product.
The second episode featured more of the same telling the sad story of George, an outsider from the wilds of England who desperately wanted to fight into an environment he clearly was at odds with. It was painful watching; George was clearly a nice guy making every effort to fit in. But it was clear he was better than this venal carnival. The essence of his story, as described with customary tact by 'Nev', was his failure with the women - and what a thing for a young man to bear. An utter failure of masculinity.
Of course that macho trope is pure bollocks. However in a speed dating event set up by, you guessed it, 'Nev' he had only one woman expressed any interest. Unfortunately for him, cruelly cementing his outsider status, she had no real interest in him. His sales team had gotten wind of this and coached him to blow her out before she got the chance to do likewise. The whole alpha male point scoring exercise (us blokes gotta stick together) was painful to watch and was of course met with the not-so-silent approval of his peers. A desperate instinctual attempt by George to rise in stature within the pack that had the unfortunate effect of portraying the woman negatively, even 'Nev' described her in a faintly unsavoury fashion, jokingly referring to her as 'a bit of a maneater'.
And that is the wonderful world of modern Britain, where dreams go to die.