The Naked Office

I was doing some ‘research’ today which involved sneaking in the back door of my local pub when it was officially closed up for the afternoon — the landlord had previously told me he’d be staying open all afternoon and he must have felt guilty when I turned up at 4.30pm with the doors shut. So I hung around in there for a quick pint — then had to stay for a couple more when it started raining outside — while he counted up his takings and watched some mindnumbingly sensational programme on Virgin TV on his Freeview TV about car crashes and people falling off motorbikes.

There was a bizarre trailer during the advert breaks about a programme that seemed so ludicrous and prurient it could only ever appear on such an obscure channel — ‘The Naked Office’. It appeared to feature people taking their clothes off in their offices but you couldn’t tell if they actually did because as the trailer was shown at 5pm then Virgin put big labels over any potentially controversial body parts.

I happened to be flicking through the TV guide tonight and came across the actual programme on Virgin+1. I was amazed to see that the programme was being positioned as some sort of business psychology programme rather than the peep show that most viewers no doubt expected. There was some ‘expert’ on who made the specious argument that if office workers stripped off naked for a day then they would be more open and it would ‘enhance communication’. This is the kind of HR bollocks that I’m interested in for ‘The Angel’ — the sort of unquestioning, controlling mentality that assumes people can be coerced into abandoning all dignity just by a few uplifting words from a motivational speaker.

Of course, these same HR consultants are no doubt the people who would come down mercilessly on any sexual harassment in the workplace and, thinking about the Peter Kay John Smiths advert mentioned in a post below, I can think of a very obvious practical reason why ‘The Naked Office’ will find its male participants quite reluctant to join in.

No fear, the whole programme was one flaccid non-event. In the end no-one got naked — a few of them paraded for about ten seconds in their underwear, long enough to display their array of tattoos, but no more titillating than one would see at the beach or swimming pool.

The programme was utter crap but a source of ideas for the novel and I’m wondering whether Emma should do a ‘let’s go naked Friday’. While on this programme the expert sensibly stayed fully clothed, I wonder if Emma might cause no end of tension if she suggested to James that she had to take the lead by stripping off in a copycat event that she might quite innocently organise — she’s going to be into crystals and mysticism anyway.

Charlie Brooker completely skewered an earlier edition of the programme in one of his better reviews in the Guardian.