Midway through How the Other Half Live, Brian Cox erupted with a terrifying rage akin to the billionaire Logan Roy in Succession.
This is fine and painful, man. And it hurts like f all the time,” he screamed out, turning on his documentary crew. Logan Roy would never grow so indignant and upset about women in need who are fighting to provide for their children.
But Cox, who plays Roy, was furious, and his fury could be seen on television.
Actually, I bet the majority of Channel 5 viewers are familiar with Cox from the 50 years of work he did before getting a part in Succession, a fantastic show that receives a tiny fraction of the viewership of something like All Creatures Great and Small.
Cox is a fantastic host and a welcome addition to Channel 5. He has a directness about him that makes it difficult to predict what he will say or do in this show, which is the first of two parts that explore both sides of the wealth gap.
He stormed out of a community pantry in his hometown of Dundee to yell at the director because he was so incensed and moved by hearing about people who, despite working, could not afford to feed their families.
He nailed the unease that can accompany watching documentaries like this when he said, “Something feels a bit mercenary about what we’re doing.”
Cox transported us back to the time of his youth in Dundee, where his father owned a grocery store but passed away with just £10 in the bank. The recollection of returning home at age eight and learning of his father’s passing practically stopped Cox in his tracks as he entered the building.
This was where the documentary was strongest. But I wish the program had shed more light on his current lifestyle and whether his wealth makes him feel guilty, unlike the former City trader from the East End who received a bonus of £395,000 but couldn’t bring himself to tell his dad because his dad made £20,000 a year.
It was wonderful – there was an incredible atmosphere because… we had these poles that we used to hang our washing from, and everyone had their washing up, so there was a sense of community. There was a scene [in the trailer] where we go to where I grew up and there’s a shot of me on Coronation Day when I was seven.
“At this time, the lines are present and the poles are vacant. Additionally, whereas doors in tenements used to have your name on them, they now don’t even have that anymore.
Therefore, the entire depersonalization phenomenon that has affected people is really horrible.
After experiencing both, Holly then asks Cox, “How does that sit with you?
Cox clarifies: “Though it took me 60 years to get where I am now, I don’t have any complaints about my own situation. I’ve done quite well.
“I don’t feel guilty about it, but what’s happening to people makes me feel horrible, and it hurts.”
Cox explained to the hosts of the program how the team had trouble getting more wealthy guests because the majority of them were reluctant to speak, but that there were no shortages of poorer families nearby.
But as Brian returned to discussing the budget for today, he started to grow emotional.
Cox said as his eyes began to swell: “No changes will be made by this budget. Since the poor have already reached their lowest point, nothing will change for them.