Reality television has exploded onto our screens. The voyeuristic intent offered up by cameras and microphones invading, homes, stages, dates, kitchens and even jungles seems to be an ever-growing media opportunity that TV execs simply cannot stay away from. This commercial opportunity ensures programme models and content styles are constantly being reinvented to maintain relevance across multiple audiences. The stars or rather participants in these fly on the wall intrusions range from wannabe celebrities through to high profile individuals perhaps sliding towards undesirable obscurity. None the less we the public remain transfixed and as committed as ever to this type of cringe viewing entertainment no matter what genre it swallows and spits out.
Romance is always top of the agenda and in 2015 the public was first introduced to Love Island. Under normal circumstances a group of people being thrown together in a villa at the sea with sunshine and sangria doesn’t sound like much to make a reality tv show from, but the successes of shows like the Bachelor have demonstrated that where love is involved all bets are off. Add to this the selection, or rather recruitment process of those involved, all good looking well turned out 20 somethings with a ruthless ambition for fame and you have the makings of a hit. Who wins the public decides, based on boys and girls coupling up for the duration of the show, and cementing “lifelong” love affairs. Over a period of two months the public are invited to vote for the couple they wish to be expelled from paradise via premium SMS services and programme specific apps ultimately determining a winning couple who go on to Instagram fame for a period of 5 minutes.
A pretty face and a six pack are not necessarily a talent but for over 20 years our Saturday night viewing has always included a reality TV platform hell bent on discovering the next biggest pop star, boy or girl band any which could come from anywhere and prove that the spotlight can shine on anyone. Typically the majority of the contestants are talentless, hopeless dreamers consumed with the belief that they are the next Lady Gaga or Drake. In reality however what they don’t realize is it is them the no hopers who make for the best television. Producers take viewers on a journey via a plethora of sob stories with the ultimate aim of getting the public to vote for their favorite no matter how talented or talentless they are. We reach for our smart phones and text to vote, and discuss our preferences via social media and at office water coolers for weeks and months.
Celebrity is often short lived, but once tasted is often addictive. Imagine throwing 12 celebrities usually on the slippery slope to anonymity or perhaps having encountered financial hiccups into the Australian jungle surrounding them with cameras and opening them up to world warts and all. Not only are the celebrity contestants tasked with challenges that test their fears and phobias, but they are forced to dine on some of the most hideous menu items imaginable. Buried in a box of snakes, covered in spiders and forced to eat kangaroo privates whilst washing it all down with a pint of blended meal worm is what is undertaken in order to replenish the fame jar and bank balance. We the public can’t get enough of it, we watch in our millions and the contestants fight, fart and forage for fame. In the end it’s up to us who wins , and the commercial value of winning to a contestant can re invigorate a career. We, as we always do pick up our phones and send a premium SMS in the hope that our favorite will win.
It’s been 21 years since Craig Phillips a bricklayer, won the first ever series of Big Brother, at the time a unique television concept much like watching a fish swim around a bowl. Craig went on to secure a lucrative career as a TV personality, hosting several DIY and home improvement shows on a multitude of channels. The opportunity worked for Craig, as it has for the likes of One Direction and Olly Murs, it also jump started the careers of Harry Redknapp and Shane Ritchie so it’s not all superfluous mindless content. It should be remembered however that although the programme provided the platform, it was our text vote that secured the win.