Back To The Floor

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 September, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 September, 1999, 12:00am

It may be tough at the top, as they say, but how many bosses remember how trying it is at the bottom of the career ladder? The BBC persuaded a few good management sports to swap their lofty positions for a week among the workers, setting the scene for another intriguing business series.

Back To The Floor (World, 8.30pm) kicks off tonight with Working Holiday. Terry Brown, managing director of British tour operator Unijet, must spend a week in Tenerife as a lowly travel representative.

A working holiday on a tropical island hardly sounds like hardship. But we will see that Brown has little time for holidaying. He has to put up with sleepless nights, smoothing down tired travellers delayed for hours at airports, struggling with out-moded word processors, dealing with mountains of paperwork and an exhausting schedule on 'airport day'. Never, he finds out, should a rep ask a holidaymaker if everything is OK. A complaint is bound to follow.

This series is more than just entertainment, as it may result in real changes in the organisations featured as the managers try to sort out what frustrated them in the field. The BBC has since made Back To The Floor - Again, in which the top dogs return to find out how effective their measures have been. Back To The Floor might also prompt some viewers - present and future managers - to be more aware of the inefficiencies and frustrations that their underlings must put up with.

Remember the man who donned a wig and transformed himself from a dull systems analyst by day to a ballroom dancer by night in the delightful Japanese hit Shall We Dance ? The actor, Naoto Takenaka (pictured), returns to our screens tonight in the lesser-known Tokyo Biyori (World, 9pm), which he directed the year after appearing in Shall We Dance.

This time, though, he is no comic sidekick. Takenaka plays the lead, Mikio Shimazu, based on a photographer who kept a diary of his marriage and published a book of his wife Yoko's portraits.

Much of the story of their time together is told in retrospect, after the death of Yoko, played by Miho Nakayama. He was devoted to her, even though he did not fully understand her highly-strung character.