Love Thy Neighbour Review: Love Thy Personality Contest

LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR: Thursday 3rd March, Channel 4, 9PM

Oh dear… At some point in tellyland, a line will surely be drawn that states how far a programme can go in the pursuit of juicy TV before it is deemed humiliating and a little bit undignified.

However until that day comes, we are presented with the latest spawn of competitive reality TV courtesy of Love Thy Neighbour, a series where people from all walks of life willingly suffer the indignity of being judged and pitted against each other, all for the prize of a country house in a village ‘set in its ways’.

Genuinely wanting to give a family a new life – and not at all interested in making an explosive show which holds up small-town prejudices to ridicule (yeah right) – Channel 4 have offered a home in the picture-postcard perfect Yorkshire Dales village of Grassington, where each week, two aspiring families will visit in the hope of winning the locals over. One family from each ‘round’ will be invited back, before battling it out with the other lucky few for the ultimate prize.

In tonight’s episode, we meet Nicky and Steve, a modern couple who have children from separate marriages, shock horror. What will the villagers think? Their competition are Simone and Phillip, a couple from London who say they want to move to the country to escape the threat of knife crime for the sake of their young boys. Presumably in favour of a friendly dollop of racism, because this village certainly have their reservations about welcoming a black family into the fold.

Carpenter Steve provides the eye candy for the village, with one woman swooning: “Philip the carpenter is a dish! It’d be my dream to watch him pulling my kitchen out and putting it back in.â€? Ooh er. Meanwhile, there is hope for Simone and Phillip, as Phillip is an aspiring Tory MP keen to help with local issues. And as one villager says, Grassington is possibly the safest place in England for a Tory majority vote…

The undignified moments are largely the whole having-to-be-interviewed-by-the-villagers thing and delivering a corny speech about how much village life means to them. Kind of like X Factor, but with personality contests instead of singing (on second thoughts, that’s pretty much X Factor these days). With villagers not warming to Nicky, and others unsure of how a black family will ‘fit in’ around town, you’ll have to watch to find out who is victorious tonight.

Verdict: addictive TV: just don’t question the ethics too much…