News & Updates
Is Tree Planting a World's Toughest Job?: BBC Reality TV in a Brinkman Camp
By Dawn Brinkman
It had been over a year of back and forth with the TV producers and their proposal of a tree planting reality documentary before the three British rookies hit the Prince George tarmac in mid-May of 2014. The premise of the show is how the unemployed youth (18-25) of Britain hold up in the BBC series World’s Toughest Jobs. During this “courtship period” we made it clear how difficult the job is, and outlined the qualities we look for in a rookie planter. We weren’t paid to host the show at our camp, but candidates with work visas could potentially learn how to carry out honest hard work and become fast, money-making returning planters, that is, if they were cut out for the job.
However, upon meeting the young urbanites, Kieran, Danny and Shannon, who unfortunately we had no role in vetting, we immediately realized our hiring criteria had gone unheeded. The three candidates were used to parental care and the material comforts of city living, had never done hard physical labour, and were in for a real shock.
Tree planting broke these guys so fast that after five days in camp and on the block two of the three had already quit. Only one of the three candidates managed to survive the first few days; he stayed in camp a total of two weeks (key word “camp”), only going to work five days total. He then quit the day after the camera crew left, leaving the impression that he never planned to stay on beyond what the cameras would capture. We gave them all the resources we would have afforded any new planters in training (and then some), but these guys were soft as butter and in the end we just had to laugh.
What did we learn from all this? One: tree planting is indeed one of the World’s Toughest Jobs – having done it for so long we can easily forget. Two: the fish-out-of-water scenario makes for great entertainment, since drama often sells better than success. Three: If this ‘is’ an accurate cross-section of British youth’s work ethic they may have a serious situation on their hands.
Fortunately the guys behind the camera were good fun, took some awesome footage of planting and got on great with the crew; we were sad to see them go. Our crew also thought the whole shebang was a hoot, and we now have this hilarious souvenir of that time three un-vetted Brits came to plant in the wilderness of BC for a few days. While it’s no NFB’s Do It With Joy (the original 1976 tree planting documentary directed by Nick Kendall), the BBC gave us an opportunity to share a special time and place in our lives and have a good laugh watching ourselves and friends do what we all do best, overcome adversity and look damn good doing it.
Check out episode 6 of BBC's World's Toughest Jobs here: