Remember when the kettle drum-banging theme tune for the Beeb’s flagship current affairs strand reduced adults to salivating wrecks ahead of its hard-hitting shock-docs about organ-running in the WI or why rain is evil?
Ever since its emasculating slip in the schedules to pre-watershed prime time, Panorama (BBC One, Monday 8.30pm) has dealt only in exposés of stuff you already knew about. Next from the ‘bear defecates in woods’ file was the stunning claim that supermarkets are profit-making organisations that secretly want shoppers to spend more money with them rather than less. (In the trade this is called ‘retail’.)
Most of the show was shoppers moaning about “having to outwit the management of Tesco” as if checking the price was like beating Deep Blue at chess. Meanwhile, host Sophie Raworth got tearful over Asda’s use of the ‘Wow!’ on its website. It was as revelatory as lifting the lid on a jar of lemon curd.
Former OFT boss John Bridgeman added some gravitas, but seemed to be fighting the urge to say that most people are a bit dim and so can’t really be trusted to do their own shopping.
There’s probably a serious question to be asked about whether complex pricing is effectively a tax on low IQs. Panorama didn’t go near it, although funky psychologist Gorkan Ahmetoglu revealed from beneath his Sideshow Bob barnet that we’re biologically hardwired to buy yoghurt we don’t want if the price tag is yellow instead of white.
Then it was on to Raworth pretending she didn’t get the metric system, tutting into her hidden camera about having to compare apples with oranges and kilos with units. It’s hardly rocket science (except in the bagged salad section, where that’s exactly what it is). Next time you see a crazy woman talking to herself in the aisles about the price of fruit, stop to give her a hand: it’s probably a BBC snoop in deep cover.
Then again, maybe maths really isn’t her strong point - which may help explain why Panorama is now just a neutered Watchdog, grumpily licking the scars where its journalistic cojones used to be.
Either way, next week’s show on the euro will be fun. Try making those numbers add up.