Going under cover

As Dunedin's only antediluvian television reviewer, I am often showered with unsolicited gifts, which I file in a drawer with a piece of yellowing paper with the word "payola" written on it stuck to the front.

That piece of paper is attached to the drawer by a short length of cracked and discoloured sticky tape, which has curled in on itself at one end.

I note these details only so as to give you the general gist of the circumstances at hand.

I was opening the drawer just the other day to throw the latest television broadcaster's gift in with the others, and the wads of cash I get from some of the larger networks, when I noticed the most lovely "Party Mustache" - Item No E 180 - made in China", with a small warning on the back noting the hazard to children because of the small nature of the toy.

I am attracted by danger as much as the next man.

I took the moustache out of the packet.

I put it on.

That very instant, I knew I had taken one step too far, and had entered into a sort of pact with the devil.

I knew also that I had no choice but to preview the DVD sent to me by the moustache-peddling public relations geniuses who know how to take advantage of an elderly man and his morals.

Also, my feet hurt, and my back was playing up.

I had a pair of new shoes, but they were making my feet overheat.

That made my head swim.

Then I felt as though I had forgotten something, but I could not remember what it was.

I searched out the TV show attached to the gift and was horrified to find it was Undercover Boss Canada.


Of all the cockamamie nations!

The Undercover franchise, of course, is the work of Stephen Lambert, the 53-year-old English television producer and executive.

He is best known for creating and launching awful international hit formats such as the award-winning Wife Swap, Faking It and Secret Millionaire.

This is, like, amazing, yeah, but localised versions of Undercover Boss are being produced in Denmark, Spain, Turkey, Sweden, Belgium, France, The Netherlands and Israel.

I know.

On Undercover Boss Canada, someone called John is the chief executive of the Toronto Zoo.

He pretends to be Jim Taylor, a fellow who is trying various jobs at the zoo as part of some unrelated documentary.

To cut a long reality series short, he learns a thing or two about his workers, everyone gets a lovely present, and nobody seems to take anybody to court for the obvious breaches of trust and employer responsibilities.

Thanks for the moustache.

- Charles Loughrey

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