NBN’s new reality show, The Briefcase, has thrown the cat among the pigeons.
One reader, for example, sent a letter to the Herald before the show aired, claiming it was “plumbing the depths of depravity, insensitivity and social norms”.
He wasn’t alone in his condemnation. Even after it aired, some derided it as “poverty porn, exploitative and awful”.
But a couple who feature in tonight’s episode said the show had done wonders for them.
Troy and Mem Hockley lived at Tanilba Bay in Port Stephens for the past 15 years, before recently moving to Murwillumbah in northern NSW.
They [obviously] weren’t allowed to reveal the show’s outcome, but said it was an overwhelmingly positive experience.
“It was massive for me – a good opportunity to find out who I am,” Troy said.
“It throws you in a situation where you can be a hero or not, to see if you can stand up to it.”
Mem said the exposure enabled her to keep her charity going and expand it.
“It’s not all about money,” she said.
“It was a great opportunity to tell the story of the charity work we do.”
So, how does the show work? Each episode features families in financial need finding a briefcase on their doorstep containing $100,000.
With the money, comes a tough decision. Keep all of it, keep some of it and give some to the other family or give the other family the lot.
They have to make the decision after hearing the other family’s story. The show has a twist. Neither family knows the other must make the same decision.
In last week’s episode, both families gave the entire amount to the other family. So both benefited.
Publicity material for tonight’s show described Troy and Mem as a “positive, fun-loving couple, who live in a rundown home with their four children: Susana (15), Phoebe (13), Bronson (10) and Cory (4).
“Troy’s ad hoc work as a contractor means he’s never sure when and where the next job will come from, so paying their bills is a juggling act,” it said.
“Mem is constantly trying to help others. She runs her own charity, called Mem’s Soul Food, which helps disadvantaged girls. It is self-funded, even though her own family struggles to make ends meet.
“With an average weekly income of just over $1330 and the constant stresses of debt, the family of six live week-to-week and have only a few dollars in their savings account.”
Mem said she reached a point last year with her charity work, where she thought “I can’t do this any more”.
She said the TV show, which was filmed in January, inspired her to keep going.
New Lambton’s Ross Greig has a bone to pick with the ABC.
The 7.30 current affairs program ran a story last Thursday about former Australian soldiers fighting to get a visa for an Afghan interpreter left behind in Afghanistan with fears for his life.
As part of the story, an interview was done in Newcastle. In the report, a glimpse of Nobbys Beach was shown.
The reporter stated in the story that “Nobbys Beach, two hours north of Sydney, is a long way from Kandahar”.
“I’m a great lover of the ABC, but I was irked. It’s like saying Fort Denison is two hours south of Newcastle,” Ross said.
For good measure, he added: “The best thing about Sydney is the road coming north”.
Ross said Novocastrians were a proud lot, conceding they were “sometimes overzealous”.
“We’re the second largest city in the state, the seventh most populous metropolitan area in the country and known throughout the world for our medical science, industry and seaport,” he said.
“I can’t believe the ABC with all their intellectual abilities would come up with a statement like that. They should know better.”
You tell ‘em Ross.
Joke of the Day
In news about the US presidential race, Donald Trump has selected a running mate.
He chose the only person suitable for the job. Himself. We stole that joke from Jimmy Fallon. Thanks Jimmy.