It’s hard to know what would possess anyone to make a television show about “flipping” property at a time like this. The UK is in a desperate housing crisis, the rental and sale markets are out of control, and the cost of living is a waking nightmare for millions.

Even despite these circumstances, however, someone somewhere span the TV show-generator wheel, watched as it landed on “reality competition show,” “property development,” “£100,000 prize money,” and finally “weirdly boring?” and came up with George Clarke’s Flipping Fast, a misjudged and sometimes maddening attempt at entertainment programming.

The first episode aired on Channel 4 tonight, as TV architect Clarke (best known from George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces), alongside brother and sister property experts Stuart and Scarlette Douglas, explained the rules to the six teams of participants. Each team would be given £100,000 to spend on buying and renovating property over the course of a year, going over budget would mean disqualification, and whoever made the most profit at the end of the year would win, and get to keep the £100,000.

Ultimately, the premise, in taking advantage of the wild UK market to provide the show with stakes and drama, feels uncomfortable, because for many, it’s exactly the state of that market which means that home-ownership, and all of the rights that come with it, is out of reach.

This was even true for some of the contestants. Two of the teams introduced in the first episode – Norfolk-based Pamela and Gordon, and Sussex mum Zoe, doing the process alone – were lifelong renters, and dreamed of using the prize money to buy their own homes. That they were willing to spend a year of their lives attempting to earn the £100,000, with no guarantees, felt a lot like an indictment of the current system, which locks so many out.

In fact, so much of what came to pass in episode one felt like a crash course in what we know of the impossibilities of the state of property in the UK, rather than the entertainment viewing that was probably intended. There was, for example, Zoe’s attempt to buy a three-bedroom house in Birmingham, with catastrophic leaks, and a guide price of £27,500. Via online auction, she was outbid, and the property sold for a jaw-dropping £81,000, presumably to someone else looking to turn a profit with an even bigger budget.

Elsewhere, my favourite housing trope reared its head. It’s so common as to almost be a meme that when you read one of the many articles about how a young couple “got their first steps on the property ladder,” somewhere hidden in the effusive copy about how they bravely brought homemade sandwiches to work instead of having Pret like the rest of their feckless generation, will be the fairly large caveat that the couple in question also received a big financial gift from their family members.

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The fact that 28-year-old journalist Harriet, also working alone, was able to ask her father-in-law and brother-in-law, builders by trade, to do free renovations on the flat she had bought – resulting in a profit of almost £19,000 when she sold it – felt like this trend in practice, again showing the unevenness of the market.

It’s a shame that this series has come from Clarke, who has written so eloquently (indeed, for this paper) about the housing crisis and the need for radical, transformative council housing, which seems at odds with the “flipping fast,” profit-centric approach of the show. The concept itself is so irksome simply because it treats homeownership as a game to be played, when to so many of those who desire it, but can’t afford to do it, it means so much more.

But the most unfortunate aspect of George Clarke’s Flipping Fast is that as well as being a bad taste idea, it also wasn’t especially enjoyable. You would at least hope to be surprised at what had been achieved, for a Grand Designs-style pay-off, but the renovation reveals at the end of the episode didn’t feel very inspiring – instead, it was lots of white paint and neutral carpet.

The show, ultimately, was predictable, because anyone who has ever contended with the housing market, for sale or rental, in this country has come up against so many of the obstacles it depicted. The experience is usually so terrible that I can’t imagine wanting to watch a TV show about it, too.

George Clarke’s Flipping Fast continues on Wednesday 1 June at 9pm on Channel 4