on 11 May 2000
Charles Jennings is no Donal MacIntyre, but you have to admire a man prepared to spend a whole season undercover with the upper classes. Spotlighted in all their horsey ghastliness, Jennings, for the most part, keeps a priggish distance from his quarry, horrified and intrigued in equal measure by their lack of self-consciousness and their uninhibited self-love. The vignettes he provides are almost baroque in their layering of detail, as event by event the season lurches forward, and the toffs damn themselves still further.
More effectively rousing (and infinitely more amusing) than any polemic on class could ever hope to be, Jennings comes into his own when he occasionally shrugs off his bumbling manner and rants in the way we all long to. You may not feel particularly ill-disposed towards the upper classes when you start out, but Jennings's gentle but deadly dissection of them is extremely convincing.