The Complainers

Comedian Dom Joly presents this new six-part
series in which he and a crack team of
‘complainers’ set about tackling the myriad
irritations of modern life. In the first episode, Dom
wages a one-man war against CCTV. He travels to
Coventry to see some ‘talking cameras’, finds out
why a virtually crime-free town in Devon needs
£80,000 of surveillance equipment and tries to
reclaim his image from the people who are
watching him. Plus, a wheel clamper is clamped;
some cheeky builders get their comeuppance;
and restaurant diners are pushed to their wits’ end.
“Modern life can be really irritating,” says Dom
Joly. “Bad deals, bad laws, annoying people –
they’re everywhere.” To redress the balance, Dom
and his team of mischief makers plan to wreak
comedic revenge on everyone and everything
from cold-callers to cabbies, parking fines to
public transport. Dom and the gang pledge to
mock, undermine and generally annoy those who
would irritate us. Along the way, The Complainers
unearths some unbelievable truths about life’s
everyday annoyances. “It’s a war out there,” Dom
says. “And we’re on your side.”
Dom’s first battle is against the seemingly
ubiquitous tide of CCTV cameras that have taken
root in streets, shops, banks and public spaces
up and down the land. Britain has an estimated
five million security cameras – more than any
other country in the world. Dom wants to know
why the powers that be have become enthralled
by CCTV, and where our rights truly lie. “Can you
remember anyone asking for your permission to
film you?” he asks.
Dom makes his first stop in “beautiful” Coventry,
home of Lady Godiva and – appropriately enough
– Peeping Tom, where a new type of camera has
been fitted with speakers, allowing operators to
berate, harangue and scare passers-by.
Operations Manager Trevor Pepper tells Dom that
Coventry has left its rough image behind and is
now the fourth safest city in the country. “It hasn’t
always been like that – 25 years ago it was
probably one of the most violent places in Europe,”
he says. Naturally, Trevor believes that CCTV
deserves some of the credit for this turnaround.
Dom tries out some of Coventry’s talking
cameras and gets to bark orders at hapless
pedestrians. He then takes to the streets, where
he finds out the locals are less than thrilled with all
the surveillance.
Meanwhile, the sleepy little town of Dawlish in
Devon has just splashed out on £80,000 of CCTV
equipment – despite having an extremely low
crime rate and a largely geriatric population. To
find out more, Dom visits the CCTV control centre
in nearby Newton Abbot, where even the
operators are under surveillance – prompting
Dom to ask, “who reviews the person who’s
reviewing the review?”
Finally, Dom tests his civil rights by asking for a
copy of his CCTV image back from the people
filming him. Under the Data Protection Act,
individuals are entitled to demand a copy of their
image captured on film, so Dom poses in front of
cameras all around London, and then enters a
bureaucratic quagmire in a bid to reclaim the
footage. Can he take on the surveillance state
and win?
Also this week, complainer Richard gets his
revenge on the wheel clampers by giving one of
them a taste of his own medicine. Fellow
complainer Jenny hires a lady friend to give a
bunch of wolf-whistling builders the shock of their
lives. Dom tries to sell weight-loss doughnuts.
And the great British reticence to make a
complaint is tested when three unfortunate
couples have to sit next to the restaurant diners
from hell.

Comedian Dom Joly presents this new six-part
series, in which he and a crack team of
‘complainers’ set about the tackling the myriad
irritations of modern life.
Wreaking comedic revenge on everyone and
everything from persistent cold-callers to belowpar
cabbies, infuriating parking fines to public
transport and local councils to health and safety
officials, Dom and the team mock, undermine and
generally pledge to annoy those who irritate us.
Along the way, The Complainers also manages
to unearth some quite unbelievable truths about
life’s everyday annoyances. This is the stuff ‘they’
really do not want you to know – and which you
could not make up.

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