Catch Up TV review: Smuggled, The Secrets of Amazon, Ant & Dec’s DNA Journey
James R | On 17, Nov 2019
Smuggled (All 4)
Several weeks ago, the bodies of several of Vietnamese nationals were found in the back of a lorry in Essex. The tragic discovery reinforced the horrible truth that people trafficking remains a prevalent activity in this country, and also delayed the broadcast of a new Channel 4 reality series, Smuggled.
The show, which aired this week and was made before this summer, tasks eight Brits with going abroad and then trying to smuggle themselves back into the UK. On paper, it sounds like horrendously poor taste, but as a companion piece to the many documentaries of recent years that shine a light on the refugee crisis, the two-part series is a surprisingly eye-opening and worthwhile watch.
The Brits trying to cross the border “illegally” do so by a number of means, including one woman hiding in a compartment in her camper van and another kayaking across the Channel. There are no real stakes to the endeavour, with the participants often joking throughout their challenges and Channel 4 production team members no doubt just off camera, but they highlight how easy it can be for people to get into the country – and, more pertinently, how easy it is for regular people with the resources of a TV company behind them to do so. The reality for migrants is much tougher and riskier, and there aren’t people on hand to help out. But this is an entertaining series that should help raise awareness of human smuggling among the general public and will hopefully provoke some thoughtful discussions.
Dispatches: The Secrets of Amazon (All 4)
Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world – one in three online purchases are made through its site. But Amazon is arguably just as well-known for the rumours and reports of its allegedly poor workers’ conditions. Channel 4’s Dispatches investigates the claims, as well some of the other problems rumours to surround the online retailer’s growth. They include the usual online issues of advertising and data-gathering, as well as concerns about some products sold by third parties on the site’s marketplace that might not meet safety regulations (the items are removed once they are highlighted). Presenter Sophie Morgan walks us through the multi-pronged investigation, making it clear that, even as Amazon refute some of the claims, this 30-minute peak behind the scenes could go for several hours. The result raises enough questions to make you consider where you’ll be doing your Christmas shopping this year.
Ant & Dec’s DNA Journey (ITV Hub)
What’s the one thing better than Who Do You Think You Are? An episode of Who Do You Think You Are? with two people. That’s the logic seemingly behind ITV’s documentary exploring the heritage of its two A-list presenters, Ant and Dec. The result takes the duo from Newcastle to Ireland and then to New York. While the notion that there are shocking revelations isn’t quite delivered upon, their enthusiasm for the family connections and heritage they do uncover makes for a likeable and entertaining hour. Even when they’re not presenting, the friends are simply fun to watch – when it comes to their success, that chemistry is the only science to worry about.