You can't argue with the concept of Wednesday's new TV One series Would Like to Work. It is noble and heroic to take unemployed people and psyche them up so they win a job. But does it make compelling TV?
The local reality series is hosted by Pommy-sounding Duncan Thomson - if I'm allowed to say that post-Paul Henry - with help from presentation consultant Victoria Carpenter and Madison Recruitment CEO Julie Cressey. Dr Thomson is a psychologist who each week takes crumpled dole-bludgers and turns them into dynamic go-getters. That's the theory, anyway.
The subject of the first episode is 23-year-old former mastmaker Alan McMurdo who has an unfortunate speaking style and needs a shave. He walked out on his last job because he and his boss didn't see "oy to oy" and had a shock when he stopped working. "Ut dud hutt me quite hudd. I thought, 'shut, I've gut no money'."
I thought Dr Thomson might start by sending McMurdo to elocution lessons so he at least could be understood, but instead he finds him a potential role at Carters Building Supplies where having well-rounded vowels is not a vocational requirement. But before he could go for the job McMurdo had a practice interview which Dr Thomson secretly watched.
I think it is fair to say McMurdo is not the sort of guy who is going to be in the running for a Nobel Prize any time soon. "This sounds quite mean and horrible, but I'm getting a bit bored," Thomson says. Honey, I know the feeling. Fortunately Dr Thomson has the inspiration to get McMurdo in touch with his "inner action man" by sending him into "the Dunker", an underwater device for training helicopter pilots to get out of their submerged machines. Things are looking up for the show when it seems that McMurdo is either going to drown or become animated enough to use words that aren't suitable for family TV. "How are you feeling?" Dr Thomson asks McMurdo as he is strapped into the machine. "Like I want to hutt someone," McMurdo replies. Honey, I know the feeling.
I hope I won't be letting the cat out of the bag to reveal here that McMurdo survives. Also, that he is effusive in his reaction to the experience.
I also won't spoil the suspense by telling you whether or not McMurdo gets the gig as a Carters customer services representative. You can draw your own conclusions about how successful a programme like this would be if it showed sad-ass jobseekers sent back to Winz. But it is fair to say Dr Thomson does succeed in "dragging Alan out of his shell".
Would Like to Work is a fine initiative. It includes some useful information for jobseekers - do some research on the company you want to work for, practise your interview skills beforehand, dress smartly, don't suck up. Maybe they could try to find Paul Henry a new job in a future episode? I'd like to see him wriggling out of that dunking machine.
- Would Like To Work debuts on TV One, Wednesday at 7.30pm.
-Herald On Sunday / ViewBy Deborah Hill Cone Email Deborah