Thursday, 12 August 2010

Undercover Boss 2.4 'The Jockey Club'

Paul Fisher went undercover on
C4's Undercover Boss
Let me just start off by saying that Undercover Boss is not really a show that I would ever normally watch. As you can imagine though, with last week’s instalment featuring the Chief Operating Officer of The Jockey Club going undercover my interest was sparked and I tuned in – albeit a few days after it initially aired.

I know I’m rather late in posting my thoughts on the show, but that is because to be honest there was never really any intention to do a piece on Undercover Boss; however after watching the show I really did feel compelled to write a little review, so here goes.

The Jockey Club run most of the country’s top race courses, including Cheltenham, Haydock and Newmarket and Paul Fisher is the aforementioned C.O.O.

Fisher decided to go undercover because The Jockey Club are forced to rely on casual staff to make race days work as most courses only have twenty race days or so a year so full-time staff just doesn’t make financial sense.

Fisher wanted to find out just what sort of service these casual staff were offering race-goers and if they were presenting the sort of image The Jockey Club expected.

Posing as Richard Setter, an out of work accountant trying out entry level jobs for a TV show, Fisher’s first stop was Cheltenham during Festival week this year.

There he worked on the entrance to the course as an entry attendant, working alongside a remarkable man named George who at 81 was still going strong and performing crowd control at one of the busiest courses in the country.

Fisher’s next stop was Sandown where he worked in the course’s sea food restaurant as a waiter. From Sandown he travelled north to Carlisle where he worked with the ground staff run by 67-year-old Tony Wootton. Fisher’s final stop was Huntingdon, where he worked alongside the results board team.

For the first three quarters of the show it was pretty standard fare – out-of-touch boss brought back down to earth by the dedication and passion of the ‘minions’– but it was the last 15 minutes that really got me.

As emotionally manipulative as the final moments of the show were they really got to me and I actually did feel a little emotional afterwards.

I’ve never seen the show before and I assume that each episode ends this way but seeing the four people Fisher had worked alongside all rewarded for their hard work really was touching.

Especially in the case of Tony from Carlisle who had been worried about losing the company house he lived in when he soon retired. Fisher not only confirmed Tony would be allowed to stay in the house upon his retirement he also named Carlisle’s new hurdles track after him.

The guy from Huntingdon, whose name escapes me, was also rewarded handsomely for his unbelievable dedication. He was offered his dream – a full time job with The Jockey Club, it really was heartstrings stuff.

Maybe I fell for this episode of Undercover Boss like a sucker because it focussed on Horse Racing, but I fail to believe that anyone else would not have been moved by what they saw.

It is still available to watch on Channel 4 on Demand and if you get the chance I really recommend you check it out.


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