Let’s see. First it was pink is the new black, then it was 50 is the new 30 and, now, after seeing The Call Centre, which premiered last Monday on BBC Three, many are convinced that The Call Centre is the new real-life Office. Nev Wilshire, chief executive of Swansea’s third biggest call centre, Save Britain Money, is definitely the new David Brent.
The fly-on-the wall-documentary series following the ups and downs of Nev and his staff of extraordinary characters. Real, but right out of the People Like Us and Office playbook. There are definite nods to The Office from a production standpoint, beginning with its name, the interviews to camera and the obligatory cutaways to endlessly running photocopiers.
Meet the staff at The Call Centre
– Nev Wilshire, the chief executive of Swansea’s third biggest call centre, Save Britain Money, bleeds Swansea. Born and bred in Swansea, Nev is a very hands on boss who makes it his business to know the ins and outs of the call centre workers’ professional and private lives. His motto? Happy people sell, of course.
– Hayley Pearce is the call centre tea lady. Hayley is a party girl who you will never catch without her fake tan or false nails. She often organizes trips for her friends to big dance events all across the UK. Now 23, Hayley has worked in call centres since leaving school at 16.
– Craig “Springer” Spring found himself at the Call Centre after having sold loft and cavity wall insulation for the past 16 months. Outside of work Springer is an avid footballer and is still on the look-out for the serious girlfriend he’s never had.
– Dwayne Batchelor has lived in the UK since 2001, originally coming over from his native South Africa to play cricket. Following a stint running a B & B in Scotland, Batchelor settled in at the call centre in Swansea nearly four years ago.
– Kayleigh Davis studied sport science at college but quickly decided that the office environment was more her style. She was cheated on by her last serious boyfriend and call centre boss Nev tried to mend her broken heart by holding a speed dating night in her honor to the tune of £500.
– Stephen ‘Twe’ Williams is the prankster of the call centre. Twe grew up wanting to be a police officer because of his desire ‘to tell people what to do’. But he found out that his forte is in sales and has been at the Call Centre for three years.
Series producer, Jon Connerty, shares his insights as to what it was like to spend 7 months in a call centre in this behind-the-scenes account of the making of The Call Centre.
Drift on over to BBC Three tonight if for nothing else but to cringe at Nev’s next newest one-liner. First week viewers have already been treated to the likes of ‘Swallow that frown’ and ‘Smile as you dial’. The best and/or worst, however, was ‘S.W.S.W.S.W.N – some will, some won’t, so what? Next!’. Laugh if you want, but Nev is laughing all the way to the bank. With over 700 employees making hundreds of thousands of cold calls a year, Save Britain Money is fast becoming a major player in the booming call-centre industry. The is cult telly at its finest. Let’s hope it makes its way to the States soon.