It's always good to see the arrival of a new prime time docu-soap on the BBC. Without them, reality shows with the word 'celebrity' in the title wouldn't have any contestants, and the charts would be devoid of novelty records. So hot on the heels of Maureen from 'Driving School', Ray the Clamper, and Jane McDonald of 'The Cruise', BBC1 last night attempted to launch a new star on an unsuspecting public, namely one Karen Carr, marketing manager of the MetroCentre in Gateshead, and a woman who's no stranger to fake tan.
The show, which charts the day-to-day activities inside Europe's largest shopping complex, is wittily entitled 'Trouble in Store' (though personally I'd have called it 'MetroSexual'), and over the next eight weeks will follow dull-as-ditchwater, sorry I mean larger-than-life, characters such as Karen, as they go about their daily lives.
We watched as Karen, who will no doubt be launching a purely coincidental singing career within the next couple of weeks, met celebrity fashion witches Trinny & Susannah, who kindly told her that her jeans were "hideous", and looked like they'd come from a market stall. Karen protested that "they're Mango", receiving the curt response, "I don't care". So that went well. But on the plus side, she did agree to cut down on the fake tan, so she might look a bit less like a Caramac Easter Egg in show two.
The supporting cast included Bill Pointer, the MetroCentre's resident traffic warden, and a man who clearly enjoys his work. He was attempting to beat his record of 61 tickets in one day, commenting that "if all else fails, we'll take the handbrakes off and push them onto double yellow lines". With an endearing attitude like that, it's not surprising Bill has his own security guard. Though as he says himself, "They call me Billy the Bastard, and it's not true". So obviously Bill's not his real name.
Then there was Graham, head of the Metro's undercover squad of store detectives, and a man "known as The Duck". Presumably because he has webbed toes and waddles when he walks. I didn't have a problem with Graham per se, but after you've heard the voice-over refer to him as The Duck about ten times in five minutes without a word of explanation, you do begin to feel like throwing a brick at the telly.
Finally (with the exception of a couple of DJs, who were just too darn annoying for me to even mention), we had Chris Clarke, the centre's security advisor, who stated "It's not a 9-5 job, it's a 24 hour, 365 day a year job". Blimey, the man must be knackered. He should learn to delegate.
All in all though, the most important thing I learnt was that if you line a carrier bag with foil, you can place as many clothes into it as you wish, and the security tags won't set off the alarm when you leave the store. That tip comes courtesy of PC Gary of the Northumbria police force. Thank him for me, will you - I'm off down the shops.