Remember when schoolkids dreamed of growing up to be professional footballers or astronauts? Not any more. Now our children dream of becoming long distance lorry drivers, thanks to the staggeringly moronic and deeply worrying reality TV series Eddie Stobart: Trucks & Trailers.
Let’s be clear about this, kids. Being a truck driver is not a good job. It’s the job you end up doing if you get a GCSE in woodwork and get kicked out of school for smoking. It’s boring. It’s stressful. It’s badly paid. You sit in a cramped, dirty cab for hours and hours on end.
To make time pass more quickly during the long, dreary days, you bully and terrorise drivers of smaller vehicles by driving 18 inches behind them, at 75 miles an hour, in pouring wind and rain. You flash your headlights at other road users, all the time, for no apparent reason, hoping to annoy them, intimidate them, distract them, and make them drive their cars into ditches.
Amazingly, over six and a half thousand fans of “Eddie Stobart: Trucks & Trailers” turned up recently at Rockingham Race Circuit in Northamptonshire in order to queue all day and get photographs signed by a bunch of monosyllabic, uneducated, potato-headed truck drivers. Channel Five have turned these under-achieving meat heads into pop stars. Folk heroes, even. It would be funny if it wasn’t so disturbing
Most famous of all the Stobart truckers is Mark Dixon, a 24 year old heavy goods driver with over 36,000 followers on Twitter and the IQ of a Heinz Baked Bean. On the 3rd of January he simply tweeted “Honk honk.”
During the festive period Channel Five showed dozens of episodes of Eddie Stobart, even in Primetime on Christmas night. One show featured a trucker driving round and round Piccadilly Circus for a whole morning while waiting for an opportunity to reverse into a narrow loading bay and pick up some wooden crates. All the skill and romance of a World War II Spitfire pilot.
Another episode featured a trucker called Jimmy “doing battle with some troublesome bollards.” Sadly I missed the programme where the Stobart team waterproofed a railway bridge on the M6.
Ben Crowe’s sardonic, knowing voiceover does little to disguise the fact that this programme is an unashamed, thirty minute commercial for Eddie Stobart. How the programme gets past the compliance people at Ofcom is totally beyond me.
This is one of the dumbest, laziest, and potentially harmful pieces of television ever made – clearly responsible for insidiously encouraging a generation of easily led, overweight youngsters to forget trying to get into university and instead leave school at seventeen and try and get a heavy goods license.
If you Google Eddie Stobart, all you find is thousands of posts from disgruntled members of the public who have been affected by the company’s alleged breaking of laws relating to long distance road haulage. Many of the comments point out that the drivers are allowed to work crazy long hours, which have allegedly led to horrific pile-ups, injuries and road deaths. Stobart are also in the process of making huge numbers of truckers redundant in order to maximise their profits.
Strangly, none of this is mentioned in the TV series. May I respectfully suggest that as we enter a bright new year, Channel Five consider commissioning some reality shows that are uplifting, inspiring and feelgood, rather than dragging us kicking and screaming into the depths of boredom, failure and despair.
Or maybe they’ll just make a show about people who work at MacDonald’s. Hey, that’s not a bad idea…