Posts tagged “bbc”

People Like Us

People Like Us was a mockumentary that ran on BBC radio in the late 90s before becoming a TV show. The radio shows are hilarious and a great illustration of what can and does go wrong in fieldwork. Each episode is essentially a total War Story.

The shows follow a hapless reporter, Roy Mallard, investigating the lives and work of ordinary people: a bank manager, an artist, a stay-at-home mom, an actor and so on. Things go awry: despite being married (Really? You?) he finds himself awkwardly attracted to an interviewee, only to realize that another interviewee is her bitter ex-boyfriend. He’s a passenger in a recklessly driven car. He’s witness to firings, incompetency, violence, relationship hassles. He trips, drops things, is sneezed upon, breaks a washing machine, and more.

At the same time, his attempts to interview people and get to the heart of what their lives are about are thwarted. If not by circumstances, then by the inarticulateness of his interviewees, or by their sheer misinterpretation of his questions (e.g., Q: You’ve been here for a long time. What kind of things have changed? A: My hair.)

People Like Us manages to be completely absurd yet with an eye-rolling kind of truth that any user researcher (and journalist, I imagine) will identify with.

The radio series has been posted to YouTube and I’m embedding all the episodes as a playlist below. Check ’em out and let me know what you think.

BBC Radio show on ethnography in business

Shop Talk is a BBC radio show featuring a discussion of ethnographic research in business. Thanks to Michael Andrews and Louise Ferguson for this.

It was a bit challenging for me to listen to; Genevieve Bell was the only person who (in a very radio-unfriendly fashion) tried to move the sound-bites into a discussion, usually to be squelched by the host. There was just too much to cover in 28 minutes – too many people giving their spiel about what this is, why it’s necessary, who is qualified (or not) to engage in it, and in a couple of cases some examples of what was learned and what the implications were. Definitions of terms such as “ethnography” and “anthropology” were not common amongst the panelists and created what I would imagine was some confusion among non-industry (ie, the user research industry) listeners. Me, I was just annoyed by that discussion.

Anyway, there are some nice bits in there, and it’s pretty good to hear some different voices on the topic, and for me, to hear my profession discussed from a UK business perspective, that was quite refreshing.


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