Imagine not being able to read a text message or the destination of a train, or use the internet. Over eight million people in Britain wake up to that reality every day. Sandi Toksvig hosts this new, uplifting two-part series that explores Britain’s staggeringly low adult literacy rates, offering a diverse group of eight adults – aged from 22 to 66 years old – a life-changing opportunity to overcome the one thing that has always held them back. Each week for four months the group receive intensive individual one-to-one tuition to learn the basic skills necessary for many everyday situations. Along the way, Sandi gathers the group every four weeks to face a new, entertaining challenge in the real world that puts their new-found literacy skills to the test, before all their hard work culminates in an emotional final test held in front of their family, friends and teachers. With different personal motivations for wanting to improve their literacy, the group are united in their quest to shed the shame and lift the stigma around illiteracy. In the first episode, the group meet each other and Sandi Toksvig for the first time, as the mammoth challenge that awaits them becomes a reality when Sandi immediately puts them to the test. After the first four weeks of individual tuition, the group come together for a travel-based challenge to assess their improving reading skills, as they’re paired up and tasked with reading maps, signs and arrival and departure boards in order to make it to lunch in the Peak District with Sandi. For 22-year-old mum Emily, who hasn’t left her hometown alone for the last four years, will this be a step too far? Stay-at-home dad Craig, who’s 30, is used to getting lost, but in the past has always called his mum for help. But without his mum on hand, how will he manage? After a further four weeks of lessons, Prue Leith joins Sandi to challenge the group with a cookery task to test their new-found writing and reading skills, as they write a shopping list and visit a supermarket before following and cooking a chicken pie recipe for Prue to taste. For 66-year-old factory worker and town crier Tommy, it’s the first thing he has ever cooked, but how will it go down with Prue? And in an emotional visit to Tommy’s workplace in Stoke, he reveals that one of his lifelong ambitions is to write and read a thank you letter to his colleagues and staff. Can Sandi help him realise his dream?
The Write Offs (Ep1/2) – Tuesday 9.30pm on Channel 4