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It Pays to Watch Martin Lewis!
It Pays To Watch!
Member Name: jo1976
It Pays To Watch!
Date: 25/09/08, updated on 27/06/13 (172 review reads)
Advantages: Martin Lewis - what more reason do you need? OK - it saves you money too!
Disadvantages: Lots and lots of information 'at speed' !
I'm a big fan of Martin Lewis and his website www.moneysavingexpert.com, so I was delighted when I heard that he had a new TV show showing on Channel 5 earlier this year. I watched every episode of the first series (much to the disgust of my other half who finds my adoration of Martin somewhat sickening! Personally, I think he's just jealous because he doesn't look as good in a stripy shirt!)
Anyway - back to the programme.... It Pays To Watch first aired on 9th January 2008 with a ten week run initially (which was later extended due to the popularity of the programme). The second series is currently showing on Channel 5 on Wednesday evenings at 7.30pm. It is presented by Martin Lewis alongside Ruth Liptrot (who you may also recognise as a news reporter for Channel 5). The pair work really well together by playing the role of financial expert (Martin, obviously) and eager financial novice (Ruth).
Each show tends to have a broad theme around a particular moneysaving issue. For example, the most recent episode concentrated on savings and looked at ways of maximising returns from different types of savings accounts, amongst other things. It's not a 'money programme' along the lines of serious programmes usually broadcast on BBC2 at some ungodly hour, it's very much a modern magazine-style show aimed at people who may not have given their personal finances much thought before. Although each show is based around a financial theme, it's geared to saving ordinary individuals money, whether this be by reducing household bills, making the most of limited offers and loopholes or reclaiming charges and taxes that have been unfairly levied.
Much as I am a big fan of Martin, I did find some of the episodes in the first series to be a bit overpowering. He is a fast talker anyway, as anybody who has seen any of his tv appearances on GMTV or Tonight with Trevor McDonald, for example, would already be aware. I think the excitement of having his own tv show and the desire to cram as much information into a half hour programme sometimes got the better of Martin! His already fast talking style seemed like somebody had their finger permanently on the fast forward button - leaving viewers exhausted and, sometimes, more confused than informed, unfortunately. The potential audience may not be as familiar with some of the moneysaving concepts and could come away feeling totally bamboozled by the sheer amount of information thrown at them 'at speed' (a phrase Martin uses very frequently!)
The two episodes from the current series that have been aired so far, show a marked improvement in terms of the quantity of information that is featured in each programme. This means that the presentation is less rushed and it doesn't feel as though everything has been shoe-horned into the show at the expense of the quality of the programme. Having less information to get through seems to make Martin much less manic and probably makes life easier for Ruth too!
As the show has already covered many of the key consumer moneysaving issues, this series gives Martin an opportunity to go into greater depth over some of the issues and themes which were touched on in the last series. It also seems to be less biased towards the internet which is a good thing as many of the people in most need of this sort of moneysaving advice often don't have ready access to the web.
The series is also featuring some of the success stories from viewers. For example, earlier in the year the programme showed people how to check that their house had been put in the correct band for Council Tax purposes. One viewer was able to claim back around £4000 in incorrectly banded Council Tax payments and will continue to save money every year from now on, thanks to watching this programme and following Martin's advice.
Lots of the tips and features involve real-life moneysavers which helps to make the savings seem more real and achieveable. There have been features about frugal living - making homemade toiletries, cleaning products, growing your own veg and keeping chickens have all been recommended as possibilities for making your money go further. Whilst I wouldn't necessarily be able to (or even want to) follow every suggestion made on the programme, it does offer food for thought and gives hope to any family that may be struggling financially, especially given the current financial climate.
Martin seems to love his visual aids, sound effects and role plays. He often uses a very literal play on words to come up with an accompaniment to a particular financial feature. For example, if he's talking about Cash ISA's he tends to get a huge cake and starts to slice it up. If he's talking about moving up the ladder - you can expect to see him dressed up as a window-cleaner with his shammy leather! Anything featuring bankers usually results in Ruth sporting a bowler hat and a moustache...you probably get the picture by now. All of these little gimmicks. tacky as they may be, serve to keep the viewers amused (well, it amuses me) and keeps people's attention over subjects that they might not generally be that interested in.
Another feature added to keep the subject matter from being too dry and boring was the obligatory celebrity appearance. Last time around, there was a Celebrity Wallet Workout, which was actually my least favourite feature of the show. Each week a celebrity (along the lines of Vanessa Feltz or Christopher Biggins) would give Martin access to their his or her wallet. Martin would then attempt to show them ways that they could save more money and make their money work harder for them. Unfortunately, most weeks the advice seemed to boil down to the same thing (using a cashback credit card instead of a debit card) and some of the celebrities seemed distinctly underwhelmed by the potential savings involved! It was also very, very rushed and didn't really add anything of substance to the programme.
Luckily, that feature seems to have been dropped for the latest series and replaced with a money facts quiz (featuirng a celebrity guest yet again!) This feature seems much more in fitting with the rest of the programme and also gives the viewer the opportunity to play along at home and try to outperform the celebrity in question. (I got three out of three answers correct this week, just for the record!) The best-performing celebrities are given one of the highly coveted golden pigs - which is no mere money box but a symbol of moneysaving greatness!
So - my overall verdict? A programme which features the irrepressible and ever-enthusiastic Martin Lewis and also promises to save you and your household money? It definitely Pays To Watch!
Edit May 09: Unfortunately, Five decided not to commission another series of this. Just have to rely on the brilliant website www.moneysavingexpert.com
Summary: It Pays To Watch this!