Who’s the Boss? on BBC Two

Companies are always looking for new and creative ways of making the way they work better, or so I am told.

One of these new techniques is the fancily titled ‘collaborative hire’, where the boss hands over decision making on potential recruits to a popular vote of their employees.

This is the focus of BBC2’s new three-part series Who’s the Boss?, where we witness Jill and Andrew fighting it out for a chance to become operations manager (I don’t know what it is either) of a “leading fruit and vegetable distributor”.

Neither of them know that they are being secretly watched by the whole company as they are put through their paces with a number of tasks – from planning delivery routes, to dealing with customer complaints on the phone. Imagine The Apprentice but with fewer egos and more salivating over gourds.

The idea is a reasonably solid one, and we are constantly shown experts extolling the great values that such an approach has, but the show is perhaps a little too gimmicky for it to be truly seen as sensible.

It is soon clear however that the employees care less about actual qualifications, instead turning the show into a thinly disguised popularity contest: when Andrew remarks that he is a “hard task master” in his opening interview, the watching employees shudder in horror at such a remark.

In reality, the contest was probably over before it had really had a chance to begin.

Of course, this is not the fault of the show. Who’s the Boss? soldiers on admirably for the best part of an hour, doing its best to create a sense of genuine drama – hard to do when a middle management position at a fruit and veg distributor is all that is at stake.

It all comes down to a rather sad climax in which Jill is hired and Andrew is left to slink out the building, past those who voted against him.

Still, at least the narrator manages some cracking puns.

Image: Jan Ramroth

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