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At heart, I'm an unemplyed British person

My favorite television shows these days are mainly on BBC America. Aside from the obvious choices, Doctor Who and Torchwood, I've also developed a taste for shows that are, apparently, only watched in the UK by housewives, retirees, and the unemployed: You Are What You Eat, How Clean is Your House?, Cash in the Attic, and Bargain Hunt.

These are distinctly daytime style shows--even here, BBCA mainly airs them during the daytime, so I have to DVR them so I can watch them in the evening, which seems a somewhat odd time to watch them. Personal/home makeover shows and shows about selling (valuable?) antiques at auction just seem right for the daytime, sitting in your bathrobe with a nice cup of tea--not so much for the evening.

My (brief) reviews of the shows:

You Are What You Eat: This is sort of like a British-style personalized version of The Biggest Loser, produced by Channel 4, where tremendously bossy and abrasive "holistic nutritionist" Gillian McKeith barges into the lives of obese British people (see--Americans aren't the only fat ones) and, after insulting them and examining their stool samples (seriously), puts them on a strict diet that they invariably hate, and harasses them when they don't exercise enough. Eight weeks later, we're shown the results: the people have invariably lost weight, look better, and say they feel better. I always wonder if they continue on their weight-loss path after the cameras have gone (a question I have about most weight-loss shows), but it makes for an enjoyable 30 minutes. Solid beta+.

How Clean is Your House?: Apparently, the UK is full of really, really dirty houses. I mean nauseatingly, disgustingly, appallingly dirty--full of germs and insects and, not infrequently, rodents. So, Channel 4 brings us this lovely little show where the "Queens of Clean," Kim Woodburn and Aggie McKenzie, invade some of the most slovenly hovels you've ever seen. Some of them even here in the States, though it's the episodes in the UK that are the best. Essentially, it's a home makeover show where the makeover is simply cleaning the filthy place. Kim and Aggie have brilliant chemistry, and the show's always good for a laugh and a bit of good-natured schadenfreude. An alpha-.

Cash in the Attic: I know there's an American version of this, but I've never seen it, and I doubt it's half as fun. The premise is simple: a host (a rotating cast of BBC presenter types, with the dreamy Alistair Appleton being my favorite) and an expert (usually one of two in-house types) rummage through someone's house in attempt to find things to sell at auction for a specific goal that the owner's have. The first half is the rummage--the second half, the vastly superior half, is the auction. There's something very dramatic about auctions--watching things crash and burn or rise and rise and rise in value until all sense of proportion is lost. I've only once seen an episode where the team didn't raise enough to meet the full goal the family had. Yes, they use terribly painful puns, and the contestants can sometimes be a bit stiff, but it's rather addictive fun. An alpha.

Bargain Hunt: I first encountered this show on various PBS stations, and I was quite pleased when it turned up BBCA. Of these shows, this is the "gamiest" (not that it tastes like goat) in that it has two teams and winners and losers, and, usually, an amazingly obnoxious, yet oddly likable host, David Dickinson. Goal: but things at an antiques fair and resell them at auction for a profit. The two teams are given money and an expert, whose advice they almost always ignore, with disastrous results, except for when they listen to him, with disastrous results. Generally the contestants fail miserably to produce a profit, and the winning team is simply the one that lost the least amount of money. Great fun, and incidentally informative. An alpha.


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