CHRISTOPHER STEVENS on BBC1’s new drama Ambulance
CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Screaming sirens, weeping crew… welcome to tricky Britain
FOOTBALL DREAMS: THE ACADEMY (C4)
Take a Kleenex before reading on. You might want to cry a little. Let it all hang out – it’s the British way now.
The whole country is perpetually on the verge of tears, even the paramedics. With cameras following an emergency response team on Ambulance (BBC1), driver Kyle was wiping his eyes on his sleeve as he left his job.
I admit it worries me a bit that an ambulance crew could cry uncontrollably as they speed through traffic. When they say they’re on ‘blues-and-twos’ I thought they meant sirens and flashing lights – not clinical depression.
During one call, where a woman with a back injury was lying on the porch of her home, Kyle gasped, “OMG! It’s absolutely awful.
I wouldn’t find that reassuring. It’s probably just me, though. The Beeb is set to embrace this tactile trend, with a whole host of 999 officers arriving on the scene in a state of hysterics. They might call it emotional rescue.
The whole country is perpetually on the verge of tears, even the paramedics. With cameras following an Emergency Response Team on Ambulance (BBC1), driver Kyle wiped his eyes on his sleeve as he left his job
Episode One: Firefighters Harry and John sob uncontrollably as a theater fire destroys a priceless collection of Judy Garland memorabilia. In a poignant final montage sequence, we hear Elaine Paige sing Cry Me A River.
Episode 2: Drag queen Sea Sea Ryder is called on a rescue mission to rescue trawlers in a storm. With no time to change into a raincoat, she heads through the waves in a sequin ball gown, looking fabulous.
Later installments might feature an air ambulance pilot who overcomes his fear of heights by taking a therapy dog on every flight.
Seriously, none of this would be out of place in the new ambulance, which focuses on the emotional strains suffered by NHS staff. In the control room, former miner Tom and his colleague Holly were frequently devastated by the calls they were handling.
The spooky lair of the night
Lawyer Jenny and her partner Fadi have bought a faded Victorian mansion in Southport, complete with castle turret and battlements. They showed George Clarke at Old House, New Home (C4). I think they better call Ghostbusters.
They wouldn’t be human if they weren’t sometimes upset, but being so open and vulnerable must be exhausting. It used to be that there was no shame in professional detachment – but in the age of Instagram, anyone with dry eyes looks heartless.
Young footballer Bola, who was playing for his place in Crystal Palace’s Under-12 training squad on Football Dreams: The Academy (C4), was learning to control his emotions.
The boys were encouraged to put all their teenage passion into the game, but keep a cool head on the pitch. “Getting angry isn’t one of the emotions you need,” Bola scolded himself.
He and his best friends Kairo and Kayden were all dedicated and talented guys.
But if that’s all a footballer needs, there would be half a million young men making a living in the Premier League. The beginning of this six-part series focused exclusively on the game and the unrealistic dreams it sparks, not asking what happens to those who don’t succeed.
We saw nothing of the school work of the three boys. No one mentioned the impact on their studies – they were constantly playing five-a-side, training in the garden, watching games on TV or being transported to the training ground.
Kayden, pictured being chased by Kairo, as part of Crystal Palace’s youth academy. Kairo talked about buying his mother a Bentley 4×4 with his first salary. Kayden was already costing a pool, hot tub and home theater
Kairo talked about buying his mother a Bentley 4×4 with his first salary. Kayden was already costing a pool, hot tub, and home theater.
It is natural for boys of this age to have extravagant ambitions. But if the academy inspires them to dream without making sure they can fall back on solid schoolwork, that’s irresponsible.
Meanwhile, every junior player was well acquainted with football platitudes. They may never play at Wembley, but they can always say: “At the end of the day, it’s a team game and I have to stay humble.”