Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The B-Team

As a certain classic 80's TV show used to say, "If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team". Of course, that was twenty years ago, and times have changed. These days you just pick up the phone and call Ann Widdecombe.

Last night saw the start of 'Ann Widdecombe to the Rescue' on BBC2. It's a bit like 'Troubleshooter' with Sir John Harvey-Jones, but instead of sending in the former chairman of ICI to turn around troubled multi-nationals, we've got a backbench Tory MP telling people not to smoke. Something tells me it doesn't quite have the budget of the former programme.

But on the bright side, Ann does manage to solve three problems per half hour show, which is value for money. Not that she works alone. As the woman herself says, "when I have problems there's a combined effort at solving them - almighty God and me" (no mention of the A-Team at all). So that's Ann Widdecombe and God to the rescue. Which makes a mockery of the programme title.

But ignoring that, we watched as Ann stated her intention to sort out the nation's troubles, before being driven off, complaining about her seatbelt, to the tune of Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. No, I don't know why either. But she soon arrived in Staines, where she met Joy, a mother of three, who was concerned that her husband's love of golf was affecting their marriage and the children. Martin, we were told, went abroad on a golfing weekend five days after Joy gave birth, was absent three weekends out of four, and was threatening to play a couple of rounds on Christmas morning while the kids were opening their presents.

Ann listened patiently to Joy's genuine concerns, before giving her verdict:

"Nag, nag, nag - no wonder he's on the golf course".

Which went down well. As did her pronouncement that "she'll lose him in ten years time if she goes on nag-nag-nagging". Something tells me Ann wasn't quite seeing both sides of that particular problem. But no matter - Martin soon agreed to cut down his golf by one weekend a month, and Anne moved on to Liverpool, where she met Neil, a camp hairdresser, who was worried about his staff ignoring the salon's 'no smoking' signs. Clearly a problem of earth-shattering proportions, and one he could never be expected to tackle alone.

Ann summed up the situation with the words "these staff have turned his salon into an Augean stable". Nice to see King Augeas getting a mention on a primetime reality show. Could be a first. She continued by announcing that "they all need a spell in the army". Which is ironic, considering her party's stance on gays in the military.

Anyway, Ann bustled around the place for an afternoon, apparently doing very little, before announcing that the problem was solved, and having a manicure. She then headed south to Colindale, where she met tattooed mother Ruth (who looked about 25) and her teenage daughter Stephanie, who couldn't seem to get on, and were close to full scale war.

Ann empathised with the situation by stating that "when I was 14, I was a perfectly reasonable teenager", before witnessing Stephanie's outbursts and asking "has she actually seen a doctor?". A couple of rows and some tears later, Miss Widdecombe successfully solved all the pair's problems by... um... well I'm not sure really. She seemed to basically tell them to stop arguing. Does that work? Well, this is reality TV, so I suppose it must do...