In this new series we’ve decided to dedicate our Sunday nights to you, dear friends, by spending one hour every Sunday for the next six weeks watching an episode of The Tube, a BBC documentary series that aired last year, and live-blogging the best bits. That way it’ll be LIKE YOU WATCHED IT TOO. Never say we don’t make sacrifices for you lot.
Just in case you do want to follow along, we’ve embedded the episode below.
1:00: Ooooh, a faintly ominous voiceover tells us that “below London’s streets exists another world…” Sewers filled with jewels and money dropped through drain covers?! The criminal netherworld? An ancient burial ground?
1:30: Right, yeah, sorry, they mean the tube. Our bad.
3:00: Uh-oh, we’re at Liverpool Street station on a Friday. Men in suits are really not coming across very well so far.
3:11: Man, I really hate men in suits.
3:47: “It’s a bit concerning, really, that these people hold our lives in their hands”, says Jane Oakes, station supervisor. “These men in suits are powerful but they are like children and you have to treat them like children.” Right on, Jane.
7:15: A cleaner is called to clean up a “code 3”. We’re informed that means vomit. (code 1 is blood, 2 is urine/faeces, 4 is a spillage, 5 is broken glass, and 6 is litter, FYI.)
8:30: The poor cleaner dealing with the code 3, Neringa Simiene – a former professional cyclist – says she thought UK would be a paradise. Needless to say she was shocked when she got here. “Vomit after vomit,” she says, “Nobody apologises.” I feel faintly embarrassed even though I have never personally committed a code 3. Yet.
14:00: Ah, Morden. Graveyard of the comatose. A nice man who we wouldn’t mind being woken up by – no, not like that, stop it – has to drag all of the very confused people off the train. His trick is to take their bag, so they follow it like puppies after toilet roll (is that a thing? Or did Andrex just make it up?)
17:15: Aw, time for the trains go to sleep in the depot! Sweet.
18:48: Now we’re at Harrow-on-the-Hill, and there are lots of serious men talking about what happens when weekend works don’t get finished in time for Monday morning. Bernie Webb, chief engineer, is even wearing his lucky shirt. We get that everything needs to be sexed up nowadays to avoid all the teenagers switching over to those half-porn, half-music video TV channels (or something) but this is all a bit over dramatic. I mean, is it really the end of the world if someone can’t hop on the tube on Monday morning? There are worse things, aren’t there? I mean, buses exist! And legs!
20-26:30: Lots of moaning. A very disgruntled mother is angry that her baby is crying because they can’t go home on the tube. Call me cynical, but I really don’t think the small child is upset that he’s not getting to go on the train. He probably has no idea he’s even a person.
26:50: Yes! A straight-talking bus driver! My absolute favourite breed of person. “They don’t how lucky they are in London,” he says, and I applaud vigorously.
28-30:00: Obligatory shots of confused foreigners looking at the tube map.
32:00: This wouldn’t be a BBC documentary series without some insight into the human condition. This episode it’s provided by Adrian McCabe, a customer service assistant at Tower Hill station, who says “London can be overwhelming for people,” he says. “We’re not designed to live with this number of people. We can’t have a connection with people. If you have any form of illness or bereavement or problem London can be a very hard city to live in.” I feel like now is the time to say we’re here for you, dear readers.
36:30: Uh-oh, a stabbing! Crikey. It’s got very serious all of a sudden.
40:00: Leicester Square Station Supervisor Wassim Malik recalls an incident when there was a man dead on the floor by the escalators and people trampled over him to get to where they needed to go. “Welcome to London!”, he says. I’m not sure what I’m feeling right now, but it closely resembles both pride and shame.
43:00: We are introduced to James Horton the mechanic. His wife thinks he’s a bit of an anorak because when they go to Europe he gets excited about seeing different kinds of trains.
45:00: (I just realised I never gave you an update on the stabbing. Don’t worry, the girl is fine! Hurray!)
53:30: We’re at some station early in the morning and some chap is telling us how hard it is to stop pigeons pooing every where. They’ve tried a plastic owl and loud eighties video game noises but unbelievably neither has managed to scare the pigeons away.
56:00: We’re back at Harrow-on-the-Hill, and it’s tense: will they be finished in time??? Of course they will! Bernie is wearing his lucky grey shirt! Unparalleled drama.
58:00: It’s left to Mark Davies, control assistant at Liverpool St, to sum up what we’ve learnt over the last hour. The tube running properly relies on “a lot of people in the background, who you don’t see or hear from”. Who knew?