Enter Matrix House – the Phenomenon of Nev
Turn up, log in, release the #bantz
Yet those looking for the usual DRUDGERY won’t find it here. What many will struggle to recognise is the unconfined joy – and definite sense of community at Save Britain Money, a self-styled consumer champion of anything from boiler replacements to PPI claims with a staff exceeding 700 and a turnover of £25m. Great care is taken to show that Nev runs a fun operation – Having A Laugh At Work While Getting The Job Done (so another area where the cup of David Brent clichés overflows).
The array of afterwork social activities also appears pretty impressive – Hollywood Days, singing auditions, blind dates, band nights (in the office), all added to and mingling with the general crack that we are assured is only ever a few nights away. Sure I have shared the occasional joke and the occasional pint but generally the vast majority of colleagues have been strangers beyond the confines of the office (always been wary of those whose office pals form their main social circle). Nev, however, goes out of his way to track down the outsiders and integrate them into the core working culture of his office.
Most of the staff’s thirst for the boozy social is pretty implicit. I’m waiting for the episode featuring our heroes on a night down the Mumbles. We’ve strayed into stereotypes of Welsh drinkers, but the coverage also cements a more universal link between office life and the need to wind down with 40 units of industrial alcohol two or three times a week (rather than considering any of the other myriad options for downtime). Nev plays a telling role here too – someone who’s been there and encourages (through all the events) a regular night on ‘the pop’ despite its destructive properties.
British unemployment, despite flattering numbers just out. With the UK so reliant on financial services, call centres are increasingly the only viable employment option in many areas, especially post-industrial areas, and will continue to be so through “reshoring” as Asian economies become less competitive relative to the west. There’s a sense of ‘there’s fuck-all else around, so we’d better get stuck in here and enjoy it’. But should we believe every call centre is like this? Should we believe this call centre is actually like this? (tbf the bonhomie doesn't look staged) Should we believe Nev is the benevolent all-knowing fun guy as portrayed? Where are the unions for those not flying through to star-salesman status, having disciplinary or illness issues? What pay structure is the firm operating? Is anyone addressing that casual sexism which is never too far away from the surface?
These are all questions that interfere with this harmless slice of ‘modern British office life’ that BBC3 wants to portray.