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TV review: Daisy Maskell: Insomnia and me, and Kurupting the Industry: The People Just Do Nothing story

20 August 2021

BBC/Proper Content

In Daisy Maskell: Insomnia and me (BBC1, Tuesday of last week), the radio DJ sought to get to the root of her difficulty sleeping

In Daisy Maskell: Insomnia and me (BBC1, Tuesday of last week), the radio DJ sought to get to the root of her difficulty sleeping

REGULAR, untroubled sleep is a key indicator not only of a well-balanced life, but of spiritual well-being. No wonder, therefore, that I toss and turn through most of the small hours; and so it was with personal interest that I tuned in to Daisy Maskell: Insomnia and me (BBC1, Tuesday of last week).

Given my disengagement from popular culture, I had not previously encountered Ms Maskell, who commands vast audiences as compère of Kiss FM’s Breakfast Show. Her job’s requirement that she rise at five every morning poses no particular problem: she’s awake almost all night, anyway.

The film documented her attempt, finally, to get to the root of the problem that affects millions of fellow Brits, especially young people, exacerbated by Covid, making most days a battle of will as we struggle with underlying exhaustion. Regularly having less than five hours’ sleep a night is a serious health matter, damaging physical and mental well-being.

She consulted everyone that anyone could think of, raising awareness of the issue by means of the social media by which today’s youth live or perish: there is a huge online community YouTubing each other all through the night to share the fact that they’re not asleep (rather stoking the fire, I’d have thought). Ms Miller is feisty and funny, going about her quest with disarming openness; and the programme took one of those changes of direction that I particularly relish.

It morphed from being a general study to focusing directly on her: she began to uncover personal traumas and conditions that relate to her inability to switch off, her abnormally high constant brain activity. By the end, she was working with a clutch of different therapists, determined to get to the roots of her difficulties, persuaded that only by doing so could she finally enjoy a good night’s sleep.

The fictional stars of Kurupting the Industry: The People Just Do Nothing story (BBC1, Wednesday of last week) surely longed for Ms Miller’s DJ-ing success. The central theme of this mocumentary — launched privately on YouTube, and then, to their bemusement, taken up by the BBC, where it has run for five seasons — is that their Brentford-based pirate radio station is pathetically incompetent, fuelled by monstrous egos and an entire absence of self-awareness (or, indeed, awareness of anything much at all).

It is a parody germinated from within: their pointless characters and activities are dangerously close to their actual lives; they send up, uproariously, what they know very well, and — this is rather important — love. Mainstream star after star lined up to say how accurate it all was, just a tiny beat away from the reality. The lads are on the verge of releasing their first feature film; so, buried deep within the chaos and improvisation is surely some discipline and purpose, underlying their ruling passion of just having a laugh.

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