Nev Wilshire (l) with underling
Nev Wilshire (l) with underling

How is it possible for a TV show called The Call Centre about a firm making nuisance phone calls to strangers be anything but tiresome?

How can an office boss who has swallowed the David Brent guide to being an 'entertainer' at work, not induce a volley of sweary abuse at the TV set?

How is it possible that working in a sales call centre is anything other than the close relation of boiling your own head, day after day?

These questions all arose during and after viewing episode one of BBC3's new prime-time show, The Call Centre.

The answer probably lies somewere near the heart of this compulsive show - CEO of Save Britain Money (SBM), Nev Wilshire.

A former bankrupt who made a fortune and then lost it, self-made Nev today lords it up in his new kingdom like a colossus.

What makes the Call Centre compulsive is seeing Nev's management style in action and how it goes down with his mostly young minions - the ones who make all the calls about PPI insurance.

This show would be more accurately named the 'Nev Show.'

He is constantly teetering on the brink of doing something wildly inappropriate in the workplace. This sense of being permanently on the teetering edge of a workplace tribunal apocalypse meant tearing my eyes away from the screen was impossible.

Some of Nev's on-camera antics in episode one (yes, the very first episode) included hurling objects in the direction of new employees after a group sing-along of Mr Brightside, making frequent physical contact with staff, pattering with female staff in ways which came near 'THE LINE' and doing interviews by asking colleagues if they would give hopefuls of the opposite sex a job.

Such actions would surely induce paroxysms of panic among HR professionals, but watching Nev stay the right side of creepy made for cracking TV.

There is evidently method in this madness: staff reciprocated with apparently sincere warmth (to the camera) and SBM has recently been voted in the top three places to work in the whole of bloody Britain.

I should declare now a cherished prejudice: I am certain doing a job in an identikit warehouse like the one in Call Centre would soon lead to me hanging myself by the cord of my sales phone.

I mean; imagine cold-calling people all day who don't want to talk to you and just wish you would go away. That's why I became a journalist; to get stories by contacting people and prising from them... oh hang on.

The Call Centre is an insight in to an environment which is typical and untypical at the same time. It's like going through the rabbit hole and ending up in an industrial estate. I found it seriously challenging stuff.

Bring on episode two.