Television: Dead passengers? Whatever you do, don’t put them in the toilet

‘A Very British Airline’ ends up feeling corporate. That’s not a problem ‘Orange Is the New Black’ has ever had

New recruit: A Very British Airline

New recruit: A Very British Airline

Sat, Jun 7, 2014, 01:00

Corporate training courses for new recruits always seem a bit weird to outsiders. They look like cult meetings, but with whiteboards and colour-coded handbooks. British Airways’ course for would-be cabin crew – air hostesses in the days when travel was glamorous; trolley dollies now if you’re sneery – is nearly military in its demands. Four “snapshots” – cautions for any infringement, from a ladder in their tights to being two minutes late – and you’re out.

In the “behind the scenes” documentary A Very British Airline (BBC Two, Monday), one trainer explains tardy Patrick’s empty chair by saying that “the delegate has been terminated”. The remaining recruits are told softly that “they should take some time”, so they file out, dabbing their eyes as if Patrick has died in the middle of the night instead of being sent back to his old job at a call centre.

Groomed to within an inch of their lives, the recruits learn how to deal with a variety of tasks, including what to do with a dead passenger. “Don’t put them in the toilet,” they’re told. “It’s disrespectful.” The dead used to be given eyeshades and newspapers, and have vodka and tonics plonked cheerily on their trays, the recruits are told, but there’s no pretending now.

We briefly meet BA’s Irish chief executive, Willie Walsh, and spend more time with its Dutch branding and customer-experience boss, Frank van der Post. But this show is too torn between pleasing human-interest fans (the training-course colour) and plane spotters (technical minutiae about the new Airbus) to make a really satisfactory film.

There are two more parts to A Very British Airline, and I can’t image what they’ll fill them with. Either the airline business isn’t as vibrant and full of fascinating people as you might imagine or, as seems more likely, British Airways hasn’t become one of the most famous brands in the world without being able to make sure that, no matter how behind-the-scenes it seems, any film about it stays on corporate message.

Getting Keelin Shanley to present The Consumer Show (RTÉ One, Tuesday), which is back for a new run with its jaunty magazine format, is a wise move, and lends the show heft. While her fellow presenters do items on budget food shopping and hair curlers she has a meaty one on the dangers of blind cords.

Four children have died here in cord accidents in their homes in the past five years – an alarming statistic. John Shine of the National Consumer Agency appears to talk about the helpful tips on his agency’s website and the blind-cord safety video they’ve made. (Seriously, who’d bother logging on for that?)

Then it gets a bit Prime Time as Shanley presses home the points that dangerous blinds shouldn’t be allowed on the shelves, that legislation, not guidelines, is needed to ensure children don’t accidentally hang themselves, and that the National Consumer Agency should be getting on with that instead of faffing about with guidelines.

I find the HSE anti-smoking ads featuring the Greystones man Gerry Collins, who has now died from cancer, too sad to watch, so I don’t hold out much hope that I’ll be able to stay with

My Last Summer

(Channel 4, Wednesday). Filmed over two years, the three-part film follows five people, aged from 38 to 58, who have been given terminal diagnoses. Over several weekends they come to a country house to “talk about dying away from suffocating sympathy and free from people who don’t know what to say”.

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