First up was "What Not To Wear", a brilliant British show. Trinny and Susannah are two fashion conscious ladies who take someone who has been dobbed in by their friends/family/work mates about their lousy dress sense. They are brutally honest about the dress sense of their chosen victim, and give them advice on what they should be wearing, and then send them off with a £2000 shopping budget. Trinny and Susannah tend to show up while the victim is shopping and "help" out.
In the end, the victim gets a full make over (hair and make up) and finally get to see the new image they present. Every single one I have watched has been an amazing transformation. Usually it's a case of the person just doesn't know how to dress well, and won't experiment, or there are serious body image issues they have to get over. The pair of them are scathingly honest, and it's very entertaining, and more importantly, it works.
Last nights victim could have been a model. 6 foot 1, slender, willowy frame. However, she was very self concious and dressed in plain slacks and shapeless tops. She looked very blah. It didn't help that she hated shopping. They advised her that vintage shops would be a perfect place for her to shop, to find the unusual shapes and colours that will add to the standard clothes that she can find.
They pounced on her while she was in one of these vintage shops where she was bitching about every single piece of clothing that she found. They picked out a few pieces that they thought might work for her, and got her to try them on. She was still bitching about everything, and they all looked about ready to kill each other. Then she walked out of the dressing room in an outfit that she thought wouldn't work and looked in the mirror and realised that she looked stunning in it. The look on her face was amazing.
Everything else was easy once she realised they were right. By the end of it she looked absolutely stunning, and was so much more self confident about her self.
Real fun show to watch.
Then there was Property Ladder, another British show. This one was about people buying houses/flats to renovate and then resell. One of the ones they looked at made some good decisions and ended up selling the place for about 60 thousand pounds more than they were expecting. The other one made some really bad decisions (thinking with their emotions, not their head), ended up having the budget blow out from 60 thousand pounds to 140 thousand, and decided to move into the place and "wait for spring so they could get a better deal". The best of the real estate valuations was 45 thousand pounds less than what they spent.
The third show I watched was Jamie's School Dinners, a show by Jamie Oliver about the dreadful mess that is British School Dinners. The show was made early 2005. British schools provide dinner (lunch to us) for their students, but those meals at that time were absolutely dreadful. The ingredient budget for each serve was a mere 37 pence, and as a result the vast majority of the food was pre-packaged fast food or other assorted crap like that.
It also didn't help that most of the students didn't want to eat anything else, because that's what they are used to. Most of the kids were eating burger and chips or something like that, with no real vegetables or fruit. What Jamie was trying to do was produce healthy meals that the kids would eat within the allocated budget.
Last night's episode was only the first episode of the four, so he's only just started, but I was aware of the end results anyway. The good news is that he ended up succeeding, and causing a hell of a lot of change in the way the British Government thinks about school dinners. As a result of the show, the British Government pledged £280 million over three years to upgrade school meals and the like.
So I was wandering around the website looking at the information packs that were available, and came across one that I think a couple people on my friends list might be interested in.
The School Pack (pdf document) lists what people can do to to help out their school, and also includes a 2 week menu (complete with recipes) of food, something that I thought might be useful. These are nutritionally balanced meals for large numbers of people done on a small budget. Sounds useful.