When Did it Become a Crime to be Well Brought Up?

When did it become a crime to be well brought up in financial comfortable circumstances and be lucky enough to attend a good school or university? Here, in modern Britain, apparently.

I appear in an E4 TV show called Made in Chelsea. Its premise is simple; it follows the lives of several young 'socialites' in what is one of Britain's most upmarket postcodes. It's glamorous, diverting and, hopefully, a bit of fun for viewers.

So I'm always slightly taken aback when I learn, usually from TV critics and commentators, that in fact, rather than appearing in innocuous, distracting, light entertainment, I'm actually engaging in bloody class warfare. Pass me a helmet.

If you believe the detractors, my MIC colleagues and I are 'gilded socialites', 'spray tanned exhibitionists', and 'privately educated, hedonistic' youngsters whose lives are a 'seemingly endless jaunt around London's most exclusive bars, restaurants and health clubs'.

Well, how very dare they!

When did it become a crime to be well brought up in financial comfortable circumstances and be lucky enough to attend a good school or university? Here, in modern Britain, apparently.

Do the stars of any other TV show get treated this way? By that I mean like stereotyped, gormless mannequins for other people's class prejudices and bias. Well yes, actually, they do.

You only have to look at the hugely successful show, The Only Way is Essex to see those same rampant class prejudices. Except, er, this time it's the other way round. Just as we're over-privileged and undeserving, living off someone else's hard work, the TOWIE stars are portrayed as acquisitive, nouveau rich wannabes, desperately trying to get rich.

Hang on, can you have it both ways? For what it's worth, I don't think so. It's lazy, narrow-minded and backwards looking. And it's clearly one of the aspects of Britain that foreign visitors find most bizarre.

More importantly, is it fair to use TV shows enjoyed by millions of viewers as, at best, a social commentary, at worst, a blunt object to batter people over Britain's perceived class divide?

Take it from me; just as the stars of TOWIE aren't all fake tan-obsessed, pneumatically boobed clotheshorses, we're not all Sloane Rangers or trust-afarians on MIC.

I might have gone to a good school, have a fairly RP accent and successful family, but that doesn't mean I'm some sort of rich, shallow, champagne swilling dilettante.

During the first three series of Made in Chelsea I had a nine to five role as a PA - okay, it was at a hedge fund, but it was a job - and I worked bloody hard, fitting filming around my spare time.

West London's not the centre of the world for me. Yes, it's upmarket, the streets are swept and there's no graffiti, well not much though we'd love a Banksy or two, hint, hint, but it's also filled with lovely, hardworking and friendly people and, most importantly, it's home.

Chelsea was once London's bohemian quarter. Artists like Rossetti, Whistler, Singer Sargent and others all lived and worked around the King's Road and Cheyne Walk. Oscar Wilde lived in Tite Street in Chelsea in 1884.

Bankers might have superseded the artists; the writers replaced by film stars, and the biggest homes sold to Russians, but the friendly, creative atmosphere survives.

There's a certain type of reverse snobbery in Britain that suggests if you're not working class and gritty you're not a real person. It's especially prevalent in our view of television and people who appear on the small screen.

Yes, times are tough economically. People are suffering. It's easy to joke that in Chelsea that means giving up the second Lamborghini, but it's deeper than that. But criticizing - and hating - people because of where they were born, who they know or where they went to school is the politics of envy, pure and simple.

Whatever Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell - who lives in Islington, by the way - might think, we don't go around casting people as toffs or plebs, in or out, upper or working class. People are either classy or they aren't, it's that simple and birth, money and position really doesn't come into it.

People are just people. Whether we're Made in Chelsea or Essex.

Binky is also a regular blogger for the UK's leading beauty website Escentual.com


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