Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Scrappers

I want to find room to squeeze in mention of a new BBC1 series 'Scrappers' that started last week and features a family-run scrap yard in Bolton. There's something rather special about this Lancashire town, having already spawned two other TV heroes of mine, namely Fred Dibnah and Peter Kay. Well I think this new series is going to do the same for at least one of the participants and it's a story very familiar to probation officers - that of pretty much unemployable clients with records as long as your arm, little or no formal education, missing teeth and lots of tattoos - oh and kids.

As they say in the North, 'where there's muck, there's brass'. Straight-talking Terry Walker and his Essex-glam wife Lyndsay have discovered this to their fortune. They're millionaires thanks to Metro Salvage, the scrap company they've run for over 20 years. They live in a mock Tudor footballers-wives-sort-of house and the motley crew of rough diamonds they employ I think makes for engaging TV. Boyle has been with Terry since he left school at 14, while Dave credits working at Metro for keeping him alive and probably preventing him doing a life sentence.

I love the way 'cash is king' up there in Bolton, as if credit cards haven't arrived yet, and I guess the employees either don't believe in banks, or just haven't got around to sorting an account out. The provision of an onsite cafe run by two sisters is a master stroke, both in keeping the staff from straying, dispensing good food on credit, and providing homely advice, all in a one-stop-setting.   

This is the set up, as nicely summed-up by a comment I saw on a review site:- 
Like all of these "fly on the wall" "docs", scenes are staged or re-staged for the cameras, people are "performing" as themselves... for the cameras, a narrative has been stitched together from individual scenes... for the cameras, scenes have been selected to form that narrative from all available footage, whether it was originally in time/event sequence or not...
You get the idea. It is "real" in the sense that the performers are not professional actors, and the location is a real scrapyard, but pretty much everything else is up for manipulation by way of creative licence.
Hyper-active Boyle, a young man who schooling gave up on at the age of 14, is very recognisable indeed having been diagnosed as having ADHD. He drifted towards the scrapyard run by Terry and the young scallywag clearly reminded him of his own youth. By the second episode we see the boss trying the manic young lad out on the yards massive telescopic grab, to the utter amazement of the other staff. But what's highly illuminating is to see his change in demeanour when doing something he's really interested in and the concentration he can muster when given a chance.

I know all this is to a certain extent 'set-up' TV, but not even these canny producers can fake and cleverly edit everything. Pretty much illiterate, Boyle nevertheless gets full marks in the machinery written exam both to his, and everyone else's, astonishment. As he jubilantly exclaims, it's the first certificate he's ever gained, indeed the only one he's ever had a go at. I found the essential message of hope and triumph over adversity to be the perfect antidote to endless TR crap. I look forward to further episodes as Boyle no doubt has a few close shaves and lucky escapes along the way. But that's probation all over isn't it?

14 comments:

  1. WTF has this got to do with anything?

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    1. I worry that you struggle to see the relevance-time for a career change perhaps?

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    2. Have missed this so far because it is on the same time as Corrie, Thanks for the link,

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    3. I enjoyed this blog. It was inspirational, showing the importance of relationships and employment to life chances. I agree to about Dinbah and Kay.

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  2. As a po, I went to posh homes, The High Court, Gypsy encampments on the roadside, doss houses in Cities AND scrapyards, and I worked with a film camerman as a client.

    It has everything to do with whatever a blogger chooses to write about, but as a po, understanding such opportunities that kept clients out of court and gaols were as important as any other opportunities, it was also important to be able to engage with folk from scrapyards etc, and be known as a po.

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  3. This show has "legs" as they say in the media land , they will mine sum nuggets in the scrapyard ....wait til we get to see the back stories of the "lovable rogues". We will all want to talk about it .

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  4. Wyn Davies head of Serco on Radio 5 Live after 6pm tonight, talking about the poor prison service report of today.

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    1. http://blogs.channel4.com/simon-israel-home-affairs/damning-report-uk-prisons-highlights-rise-violence/827

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    2. And our government keep handing them contracts!!
      And lets not forget they keep Palistian prisoners, charged with no offence locked up in Isreali prisons.
      This company is just pure filth.

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/g4s-under-fire-for-taking-70m-contract-to-service-guantanamo-bay-9667345.html

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    3. Damning report into UK prisons highlights rise in violence

      Week after week there seems to be yet another damning report on the state of this country’s prisons.

      Today it is the Serco privately run Doncaster Prison where the Ministry of Justice has been trialling “payment by results” for those sentenced to under a year.

      The word “violence” appears 22 times in the report of an unannounced visit by prison inspectors and there’s a grim picture emerging from behind the scenes or rather the walls of this 20-year-old South Yorkshire category B prison.

      Levels are four times above the norm, or as the inspectors put it “level of assaults and fights was very high. The management of violence was arbitrary and not well focused. Support for victims was poor.”

      Last week in a report on Glen Parva “violence” was mentioned 24 times and inspectors had this to say: “In our survey prisoners reported extremely high levels of violence and intimidation by other prisoners and we found other evidence to substantiate this.”

      More people died in prison in 2013 than any other year, with suicides up by 69 per cent in a year. The prison service management’s own assessment rated 28 prisons as “of concern.”

      But six of those including the two mentioned above have been upgraded on request to avoid being tagged “of serious concern”. Only we do not learn why.

      Today Labour held a prison summit. We were not allowed in. The Howard League for Penal Reform was among some prison charities which didn’t turn up.

      They are uncomfortable about providing the Government with room to accuse them of being the opposition’s poodles.

      So you would think there would be a lot to talk about on our programme. But no one from the Ministry of Justice wants to. We have made repeated requests and the refusal seems at odds with Chris Grayling’s recently expressed desire to promote his department’s transparency.

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  5. Surrounded by many akin to the first commentator...30+ years in and refusing to let them and all that is TR win......me too Jim.....me too

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    1. Thanks - means a lot - you either 'get it' or you don't.....

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  6. Four individual deaths to deal with this week. A client; another client's best friend; a different client's partner and another client's brother. This is the unexpected side of Probation. Our clients and their families play Russian Roulette with their lives.

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    1. Oh dear that's dreadful. I know from experience how upsetting it is when clients die and I can vividly remember the circumstances of every one. Thanks for sharing and take care.

      Best wishes,

      Jim

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