Kathy Burke: Money Talks

Photograph: Channel 4
Rating 7.8
Streamer All4
Seasons 1
Episodes 2 x 45 mins

That British stiff upper lip comes with a few rules: don’t talk to people on the tube, always put the hot water in before the milk, and whatever you do, don’t talk about money. But in her true, blunt style, Kathy Burke is saying bugger that, and is having a right rummage around in people’s finances. 

So what’s she found? Loads of debt? A credit card bill that’s full of lunches from Pret and unnecessary Ubers for ten minute trips? Well, probably not with the people in this first episode, as the people featured are stinking rich. Burke is meeting the people who are wealthy and don’t mind telling us, using her classic open-minded and frank approach to get these people to discuss their finances, and what it’s like to be loaded. And it’s something she knows a thing or two about, but for her being rich isn’t about driving fancy cars or being able to drop a few grand on a nice meal – it’s about not being skint.

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Which is very much the attitude of one of her guests, Alfie Best, who grew up in a Romany gypsy family, and now owns a £340 million caravan park business, but who says he works harder than ever for fear of losing it. As always, Burke is kind and considerate as Best shows her round his lavish house and sports cars. And she shows equal consideration to Megan Barton-Hanson, who appeared on Love Island’s fourth season, and who now makes thousands by selling sexy pictures on OnlyFans, saying she’d rather do that than do fake endorsements for products she didn’t care about. Then, she pops over to a TikTok house full of young content creators, where the 26-year-old boss mentions their multimillion salary as casually as if he were talking about earning a few quid from a weekend job.

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There isn’t some grand point to make here, which is usually the case with a Kathy Burke doc, instead working as more of an exploration on attitudes around wealth, with a slightly grittier episode on poverty following this one on wealth. And with any other presenter, this would likely be a weakness, however with Burke’s loveable bluntness, and her open minded and articulate character, this makes for great watching. We just can’t help but wish we had chance to snoop about in her finances, too. But then again, we can’t fault her for honesty, nor her seemingly boundless curiosity and empathy.

And it’s just those traits that have the critics lapping this show up, with The Financial Times’s Suzy Feay saying “Burke has an ability to talk to just about anyone with an open-minded disinclination to judge — provided they’re not a member of the Tory cabinet,” adding that “throughout it all, Burke is warm, curious and empathetic.” The Telegraph’s Anita Singh agreed, saying “Burke’s documentaries are always immensely watchable. The appeal comes from her good-natured bluntness.” However Lucy Mangan of The Guardian reckons “the enduring weaknesses of the format are that there is no overarching thesis, no exploration of the various issues raised, no contextualisation, no wider perspective given.”

First shown July 2021. You can watch a clip by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.

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