Confessions from the underground

3 Feb

I love channel 4 for many reasons, they have the Simpson’s, My big fat gypsy wedding, Hollyoaks and Jon Snow. However their series of documentaries on controversial topics is definitely the largest reason for that love, I’ve spent many evenings with my flat mate Rachel glued to the television, having a bit of a lively debate on our differing views (me and Rach are a bit of a personality contrast, but that’s what keeps our friendship so interesting!)

So when I saw the programme ‘Confessions from the underground’ advertised there was no question that I was sitting down to watch it, as someone who has had a fair bit of experience doing the commute to London and tackling the tubes, I found this a fascinating programme from the viewpoint of people working behind the scenes on one of the oldest yet busiest subway systems in the world.

If you’ve gone on the tubes before, and I’m sure you have at some point, then like me you may have felt some apprehension for the first few journeys. I’ll never forget the first tips my dad (a hardened London commuter veteran) gave me when I started commuting. Never stand in the first row behind the yellow lines, try to stand behind two people who are shoulder to shoulder so they create a barrier if you get pushed, keep one foot forward as a form of balance and stability in case you do get someone who deliberately pushes you (yes apparently that happens) and try not to wear anything that has dangling bits which could get caught between doors. 

I watched interviews with staff who genuinely cared about the safety of commuters, tourists and other travellers using the underground, and created a compelling picture of an old and lagging system pushed to the limit by cuts, with underground staff barely holding the pieces together. One woman described the system as ‘running on  luck’ whilst another young man spoke out about how the drive to make the underground faster and efficient has led to severe breaches in public safety and was ‘killing with cuts.’ They raised interesting points and opinions on how London would cope with an influx of visitors for the 2012 Olympics, giving an insight into what I already imagined was a thankless job, describing some of the treatment and tasks they have to perform its a wonder they turn up to work at all.

With a great amount of in-depth research and  interviews on a system that a large majority of the country depends on yet takes for granted, this was an amazing programme narrated by one of the all time greats Richard Wilson. Watching this you can’t help but compare our subway system to other countries like Japan, Russia, France and China  and wonder why Britain wastes money on so many pointless endeavours, when it could be spending it constructively on updating a system that’s very much in need and in constant use.

Thought provoking and insightful, if you haven’t seen it, make sure you do!


One Response to “Confessions from the underground”

  1. Writing Jobs February 4, 2012 at 2:33 am #

    Great review thanks. I really enjoyed it very much.

    Enjoy writing? We would love for you to join us!

    Writers Wanted

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