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For some time now, it’s been rough on the High Street, but it was particularly harsh last week. First, the once mighty Debenhams declared that the store was closing, then Arcadia, followed by Bonmarche, went into receivership. Where, and in what shop, is it going to end?
Television has become accustomed to tracking the wellbeing of the High Street, and in factual series and news reports, its decline has long been expected, to the point that it seems unavoidable. Within Poundland: That is refuted by secrets from the Shop Floor (Channel 4, Monday, 9 p.m.)
The store, known for its inexpensive and cheerful goods, is far from retiring, opening new shops to add to the more than 800 it already has, and investing £ 25 million in what it calls “Project Diamond.”
No, Poundland isn’t, at least not yet, looking to break into the engagement ring business. Poundland is seeking to enter and cater to the middle class in the luxury market. If it can be done by Lidl and Aldi, why not little Poundland, the thought goes.
The management team and workers are pursued by this latest two-part series as they attempt to make the retail magic happen.
General Manager Barry Williams arrived at the Walsall store to help the team stock the freezers with the kind of food that should be like catnip to the middle class. Pizza with pesto and grilled vegetables, followed for dessert by maple and walnut ice cream?
Williams, who began as a stock boy at Kwik Save 30 years ago, understands and is very optimistic about a profit margin a mile away. So is Austin, his second-in-command, who is leading a team to Scotland. When the boys test out their Scottish accents, you may want to run to the kettle. They certainly purchased them at a dollar store.
Not all is well upon arrival at the Glenrothes shop. It’s dusty, the shelves are badly stacked, and the storage is the stuff of the nightmares of Mary Portas. The manager gives us nice advice on how to fix stuff and promises us a return visit, just as important.
As we see when the boss hands over those Poundland cookies for the ride home to England, there are no bad feelings. In Scotland, without a cheap snack which bears a passing resemblance to a well-known brand, we never let a guest leave.
Next, we drop by the recycling department, where we’re told it’s been four years since the store sold just £ 1 things, and we’re watching the homeware department lead the upstairs trend of giraffe ornaments, picture frames, and fancy planters. Taking on Ikea: It’s a brave thing.
Is it going to work? It’s not for lack of trying, if not.
Now, if you were searching for a great foreign female detective, where would you shop?
Many would stop by “The Bridge,” home to the Saga Noren (Sofia Helin) of Sweden, and that would be a nice option. But for some of us, our Selfridges will forever be Laure Berthaud (Caroline Proust) of the Paris Police.
Between the two’tecs, there are some parallels. Laure likes grungy jeans, and Saga likes leather pants. With razor-sharp intuition, they’re both highly intelligent detectives. And both of them, it has to be said, are disasters outside of work. Complete wrecks of emotional trains. The only difference in Laure’s case is that she’s not the most out-of-control misfit in her squad. Have you ever seen Gilou?
I’d highly recommend making his acquaintance when the BBC starts rebroadcasting the first season before the eighth and final season comes here in January (iPlayer, starting Saturday). It’s a lot to catch up on, but well worth it.
Spiral is set in the Paris streets that the train passes on its way from the airport. This is definitely not the French capital as depicted in Emily in Paris. Berthaud and her posse are to Paris what The Sweeney was to London and Taggart was to Glesga. Someone has to take to these mean streets, and he’d better be rougher and tougher than the bad guys he’s after.
Normally, I can’t do anything with programs that try to explain the magic of a comedy. Nothing kills the fun faster. But certain shows can take anything thrown at them, so go ahead and watch We Love Dad’s Army (Channel 5, Sunday, 9 p.m.).
Jimmy Perry and David Croft’s sitcom is the show that never gets old. No matter how many times you watch s