Not the good life

ITV, a commercial TV station in the UK, just launched a new reality series about people going back to the land. Now it has axed the show from its Tuesday night line-up after a disasterous performance in the ratings.

The Real Good Life , lasted for two episodes instead of its planned three. The opening 60-minute show last week had 2.7 million (13%) with the audience falling by 400,000 to 2.3 million (12%) in its second outing in a 30-minute slot at 8pm. Next week it will be replaced by a repeat of It’ll Be Alright on the Night.

Like so much on ITV at the moment, it feels like this programme was first conceived in 1978, and then forgotten for years until it was found in an old box marked “stale ideas”.

“The Real Good Life” is a reference to a 1970s comedy about a middle class couple who gave up urban bliss for country hell. But the families in this series haven’t moved to the countryside; they’ve dug up their own back gardens in suburbia. And the ITV cameras are following them through four long, tough seasons, to see whether they achieve fulfilment and full stomachs.

The Smiths from Lincolnshire, the Attfields from Hertfordshire and the Aldridges from Berkshire gave up their jobs, renounced luxuries, cut up their credit cards, rotavated their gardens and…and, well, what? What are these modern-day Tom and Barbara Goods aiming for?

But nobody told ITV, or the production company Talkback, that things have changed since 1978. You can now live very cheaply and comfortably off the grid, if you have the right attitude and information. But not in suburbia.

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The Good Life - Complete series on DVD - Buy it from Amazon UKThe Good Life – The complete series of the orignal comedy on DVD – Buy it from Amazon UK

Growing your own vegetables is one thing if you happen to live in remote countryside, where land is relatively cheap and plentiful, and the nearest shop is a 20-minute drive away. But people who live in urban communities are generally unsuited to coping with the pace of vegetable-growing.

A stupid idea, badly done.

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