These days anyone can get a reality TV show. If you’re a hoarder, from Essex, a tinker, a teenage mum, adopted, fat, a C-grade celebrity (better if you are also fat), looking for a new house, rich, stupid, shagging Hugh Hefner, running a shit hotel, running a shit business, prostituting your children in weirdo pageants, an out-of-control teen, a crappy dog owner, a mob wife, getting married, fat and getting married, a patient in hospital or better still, multiples of the above, then you’re in.
*TOWIE bint. I am guilty of watching too much “reality tv” but I have never watched this show. It would hurt my brain.
I remember the first series of Big Brother UK. It was awesome. Put 12 normal people in a house with booze and cigarettes and cameras and watch them be normal. It was compelling. Move on 10 years and put 12 mental camera-loving dickheads into a spa and make them compete in ridiculous pseudo-olympics to win a car or a spot presenting an sms game show on late night TV – not so much.
Normal people are the most interesting. In my job I interview all kinds of people and without doubt, the best, the most interesting, the most humbling and the most amazing are people who have no idea about the media, or no desire to be a part of it. They don’t want TV shows or magazine covers, they are just glad someone wants to help them tell their story.
The proudest moment of my career is also a sad one. I wrote a story about an actor who committed suicide. I spent all day calling all my contacts and finally managed to find a few people who knew him and worked with him. I wrote the story, so terribly conscious that those who knew him and loved him would read it. The next day, when the story came out, his mother called me. Her son had been dead less than 48 hours and yet she called me and thanked me for the story I had written about him. I have never been more touched or humbled in my life.
Real people are amazing. Real people are fascinating. People with orange-glow fake tans talking utter nonsense to the camera and flashing their knickers are boring. We are desensitised now. Those clever people on TV think we want bigger, better, faster, more. We don’t. While there is a part of us which says “thank god I’m not you”, I believe there is a bigger part that wants to empathise, that says ‘yes, you’re like me’. But those people don’t want to be on TV. It is hard to take that leap because everything is so stylised and over the top. You know you won’t appear on TV as you really are. YOu will be edited out of existence and made to be something you are not.
Who could blame them? Reality TV is boring. It no longer reveals anything about ourselves. Just gives the fucksticks a place to go and play.