Reality TV: Not So Real After All?
First there was Blue Peter; then there was the GMTV fiasco; now there are rumours of X-Factor going down the same 'match fixing' route. All of this makes me wonder: is this the beginning of the end of Reality TV?
Earlier this year, the presenters of popular children's programme Blue Peter went on air and shattered a few thousand kiddie hearts when they said they had "faked the winner of a phone-in competition." Apparently, a technical glitch came up after a phone-in competition was announced and one of the production crew decided to save the day by having one of the girls who was visiting the BBC studios that day to 'ring' the programme. This girl pretended to be a caller from London and was then declared the winner.
When the whistle was blown on this operation, everyone right from BBC Children's Controller to the presenters, apologised for this mess. But the deed was done.
But this was baby stuff compared to what happened over at ITV's popular morning show, GMTV. From 2003 right until the time the deception came to light in 2007, the show had raked in £20 million or thereabouts, thanks to some fake phone-in contests.
A contestant for these phone-ins has to pay the premium rate, which could be around £1 per minute, with calls lasting up to 3 minutes or so. According to reports, around 62 million good people phoned in on the premium numbers, hoping to win some easy money. Add the figures and you get a rather neat sum. Of course, when the news broke, the presenters greeted the outraged Brit public with suitably apologetic faces and GMTV was fined a paltry £2 mil.
Now rumours have started circling that top dog of reality tv programmes, X-factor. The latest installment is supposedly rigged. Or so 'they' say. Fans of the programme would remember that last year, contestant Ben Miller walked off in a huff (only to return a few winks later) amidst allegations of 'fixing'. So what is different about this latest season's offering? Apparently the rigging is being carried out on a much larger scale than ever. When some of the groups turned up for their audition wearing identical gold dresses, it raised more than a few eyebrows. Attendees of the boot camp are crying foul to the media that the finalists have been ear-marked already and it is all a giant charade. Sour grapes? Or the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
Even Nigella seems to be faking it. Cognoscenti has it that her show is a giant charade: the buses she takes for her shopping jaunts around London are all specially hired for the show, with the 'passengers' thrown in. The kitchen where she dishes her new recipes is not her 'real' kitchen, but a studio one, situated on an industrial estate in Battersea. Even the 'friends' for whom she cooks for are not her 'real' friends but 'invited guests', most of whom have never clapped their eyes on the culinary queen.
All of which boils down to, surprise surprise, is that reality tv ain't no 'real' after all. Programmes that are supposedly shot 'live' turn out to be recorded ones (like BBC's Saturday Kitchen) or have fake winners or worse. With all the rigging that seems to be going round, why are the public still falling for the whole charade? Personally, I'd rather watch a good pot-boiler or a gripping drama any day, than a bunch of losers in a glass house, fart, burp, bitch and air their vacuous thoughts dall day long. So I say, it is time to get off the so-called reality television and get on with real lives.
Failing that, you could always live vicariously through Heroes.
Reality TV: Not So Real After All?
- » Published on October 09, 2007
- » Type: Review
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