Sunday, January 26, 2014

Weight Loss Ward (ITV)

ITV's Weight Loss Ward (about extremely fat people) has proved to be somewhat compulsive viewing. Take Doreen Thomas: age 56, height 4ft 11, and weight 31 stone. Doreen can barely move and has been living downstairs for ten months. Her glasses have been upstairs since March, apparently.

"She's tried losing weight in the past, but it's never really succeeded. If we don't do something now she probably will be dead," says her nurse.

Doreen Thomas orders treats (from Stoke Sentinel)

On-screen, Doreen comes across as crafty and manipulative. She lives on benefits, has a full-time paid-for carer and snacks incessantly on treats ordered online.

My puritan reaction is of course outrage: why are we paying this person to waste her life in this way? She even refuses an operation to insert a gastric balloon! What could possibly be the purpose of her parasitic life?

On reflection, how would it help if Doreen were transformed into a bland, everyday mediocrity? As a welfare monster she gives millions the pleasure of lip-curling moral superiority. In her own (thankfully) inimitable way she has entertained and instructed more people than many a C-list pop star.

Yes, "Weight Loss Ward" has entirely justified Doreen Thomas's life - short as it's likely to be.