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A depressing and sadistic reality tv 'experiment' that is unfolding as I type on British television. A group of 16-year-olds are subjected to an isolated 1950s education (no outside contact beyond limited letters, no modern luxuries) and required to pass O levels. Modern teachers are used, but chosen on the basis of their ability to behave like the starchiest, most misanthropic Bash Street Kids-style caricature of a 50s schoolteacher imaginable.

The goal of the program seems to be to demonstrate that it's not much fun being forced to dress in uncomfortable, ill-fitting clothes, and then get shouted at, bullied, humiliated and ridiculed at five-minute intervals. I can only assume the program makers are taking bitter revenge on the teenagers for their comparatively comfortable modern education, but I have to wonder where this trend (which began with the National Service reconstruction Lad's Army) will lead. Prison? Workgangs? Slavery? To what level of degradation will we lower one another in pursuit of entertainment?

My one hope is that the pupils swiftly arrange a brutal insurrection and turn the entire affair into a performance of If.... Their educational oppressors dispatched, may the youth then storm the television studios, deliver us from grim and joyless programming and demonstrate a future.

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