She may have been hailed by some of her Twitter followers as “the new Louis Theroux” following her BBC3 documentary Meth and Madness in Mexico but it seems the jury is still out on Stacey Dooley’s investigative powers.
In the first of her three-part documentary series on drugs, 28-year-old Dooley headed to the desert with the Mexican Army where they visited an enormous meth lab that has been producing meth amphetamine on an industrial scale.
It seemed to go down well with viewers but not all media reviews have been favourable with The Independent labelling it “the most inexplicable combination of presenter and subject matter since Channel 5 chose Keith Chegwin to bare all for Naked Jungle.”
It’s not the first time Dooley has come under fire for her investigative programmes. Her 2012 documentary Japan, Fall of the Rising Sun — part of a series in which Dooley travelled the world to witness the effect the global economic crisis was having on the young — was heavily criticised for the manner in which it reported suicide and was accused of breaking the Samaritans’ media guidelines on this issue. New Statesman said it was “shockingly bad taste to have such a sombre and serious subject approached in a lightweight ‘yoof’ tone.”
Dooley’s first TV appearance was in the 2008 BBC documentary on the dark side of the British high street, Blood Sweat And T-Shirts, in which the then 21-year-old fashion-obsessive was exposed to the reality of sweatshops. The BBC then decided to give Dooley her own series and over the past seven years she’s been all over the world, covering everything from religious extremism and sex trafficking to domestic violence and binge drinking.
There’s no doubt that Dooley always tackles hard-hitting topics but whether her approach is as compelling is still up for debate. Her wide-eyed innocence makes her come across as younger than her 28 years at times and it’s fair to say that she doesn’t typically drill down deep enough into the heart of the issues being covered. However her approach seems to resonate with younger viewers and, if it’s getting the younger generation interested in important global issues, that’s no bad thing. But we don’t think Louis Theroux needs to worry just yet.
In the next instalment of the Stacey Dooley Investigates series, to air on BBC3 on April 14, the presenter will embark “on the trail for the world’s best-selling party drug… ecstasy,” meeting dealers earning huge amounts of money from selling the drug and the police force who are about to make a big bust on a lab.