Posts Tagged ‘Reality TV’

The Apprentice Lookalike Fun – Week 5

April 23, 2009

kimberly The Apprentice 2009

You wanna see balls? Well, I’ll give you balls right now!

‘Business owner and believer that no dream is too big’ Kimberley Davis bears a canny resemblance to ‘1970s childrens’ dolls’ the Cabbage Patch Kids.

I guess you could say Kimberely wasn’t the first all-American, cotton-headed vegetable to grace our screens.

My Life As An Animal: Pigs

April 20, 2009

My Life As An Animal BBC Three

My Life As An Animal is a show in which two seemingly intelligent people, untainted by mental illness, agree with BBC Three Producers that they will live with pigs for a week. They do this either because they’re so desperate to be on television that they’ll happily smear themselves in wet, gluggy manure to get there or (less likely) they’ve been badly advised on what the content of the show will be.

The format can be broken down like this:

  • Two Members of the Public meet Terry Nutkins
  • He tells them what pigs do.
  • They watch pigs snuffling about all day and doing very little.
  • MotPs are thrown into the pig pen where they live for a week.
  • They make friends or enemies with pigs, snuffle a lot and eat pig-feed.
  • They watch pigs get killed in the now-compulsory abattoir shot.
  • The end.

So – a sublime journey. How deeply will the human psyche be probed? What valuable information will we gleaned as we make adults scamper about on all fours, sleeping in straw and making grunting noises?

The contestants, Richard and Lyndsey, began by being ordered into clothes from a wheelbarrow that had been smeared with pig urine and poo. ‘It smells!’ they cry, stating the profoundly obvious. And they continue to state the obvious throughout the show.

– ‘This is literally a pigsty’
– ‘They smell’
– ‘They keep banging into me’
– ‘Urgh, it smells round here’
– ‘Oooh, it really stinks’

Richard – the first contestant – appeared to enjoy the process. He learned that ear-sucking on a waxy lughole is the very tenderest of intimate expressions among piggies, and he set to work nibbling ears like a pro. Soon enough he was kipping among them like he was one of their own, having grown worryingly close within a matter of hours.

Lyndsey, a Radio Five Live DJ, had a harder time living as a pig for a week. There were tears and tantrums during the early part of her stay when she realisd she’d be sleeping among them. She wanted her own sty, she complained – not realising that would obliterate the whole point of this stupid outing. Later, when a piggy nipped her on the lower leg she roared like a baby and demanded she get to go home. But then, persuaded by the crew, she got back into it and spent the rest of the day running around haystacks. The soppy cow.

Aside from that, ‘having totally immersed themselves in their pig-lives’, they watched pigs do sex and then snuff it in a slaughterhouse. They swapped places so that Lyndsey could see she’d actually got the better end of the deal as she sampled the non-organic pen. But still it was impossible to work out what we’re meant to have learned. Something about farming techniques? Something about human nature?

Whatever it was, it completely escaped me. The suspicion is this is another outing in which the title and concept are all, and that the actual content of the show doesn’t actually matter.

Did it not occur to anyone that the idea is completely and morbidly pointless? ‘It’s a new low!’ they seem to be shouting over in BBC Three-land. ‘Let’s celebrate it! Here – smear yourself in some shit!’

Watching the show, when the contestants complained – particularly Lyndsey who took to punching her stymates on the snout – you wanted to grab them by their lapels and dash their heads against the nearest trough, screaming at them that, as they’ve decided to live like pigs, they should stop complaining (in human) about how much they hate it. And what’s more, if they were going to do this bullshit experiment properly, they should be stark bollock naked. And the only human contact should come from the farmer. And if it was unwelcome contact they wouldn’t be able to complain beyond a terrifying, shrill squeal.

But then you realise that hidden camera footage of an obese farmer boning a mute, naked media type in a cold field wouldn’t make great television – but then, neither does this shit.

NewsGush: Bookies on Boyle

April 17, 2009

Now, I don’t watch ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent because it’s a pile of shit. It’s also got a judging panel made up of three arseholes and is fronted by Ant & Dec. Frankly, if I tried to watch that rot, my telly wouldn’t survive the thrashing I’d inevitably mete out to it from a mixture of frustration, despair, ruinous fury and good, old-fashioned common sense.

But some people do watch it, and the majority of them are going mental about Susan Boyle in the clip above. She’s turning into an ‘internet sensation’ with her Youtube clip being watched at a frightening rate. Bookies have shortened her odds on winning the thing, and Guardian journalists are getting in a tizzy about her initially being judged on her appearance.

So – apparently people who look like normal folk can sing!

Who’d have thought?

What a patronising and worryingly profitable shit-bonanza Cowell’s running.

The Apprentice 2009 – The Preview!

March 18, 2009

The Apprentice 2009 BBC

It’s here!


(Edit – it actually is here now – Ep. 1 reviewed over here)

By now you’ll be well aware that the new series of The Apprentice begins on the 25th of March.

As has become the tradition, the BBC have issued some scant but tantalising details about the runners and riders. So let’s have a look at them, here and now – and make some wildly speculative judgements on their good character while we do so.

Anita Shah

Anita Shah

Anita is inspired by James Caan, it says here, so she’ll be the one stroking her beard in a warehouse, too nervous to invest in anything. She ‘can make impactful statements’ she adds. I’m not sure if ‘impactful’ is a proper word, so she’s made an impact right from the off with this year’s first taste of language-mangling, or ‘langling’ as I like to call it, impactfully.

Ben Clarke

Ben Clarke

Viewers of HBO’s The Wire will know Ben from his role as Democrat candidate (and, latterly, Mayor of Baltimore) Tommy Carcetti. Ben states that ‘making money is better than sex’ – the sort of claim that demonstrates the speaker is a one-minute-man.

Debra Barr

Debra Barr

Firstly – that’s not how you spell ‘Deborah’. Secondly, any woman with ‘a passion for business and a love of horses’ is instantly terrifying. Add all this to the cold eyes of a killer, and Debra’s already looking like a candidate to fear.

Howard Ebison

Howard Ebison

Howard’s an award-winning dancer, apparently – so expect a few jokes at his expense from Alan Sugar – the ultimate man’s man. A part qualified CIMA (Management) Accountant, Howard looks a little bit like Ben Mitchell off Eastenders in this promo shot, minus the hearing aid.

James McQuillan

James McQuillan

James is a former child chess champion and a football fan. His profile doesn’t feature any incriminating quotes, so it’s possible this fellow’s a Lee McQueen type. But we won’t know until we tune in.

Kate Walsh

Kate Walsh

Kate says she has ‘the ability to sustain business relationships at all levels’ – and I haven’t the foggiest what that’s about. She’s ‘highly motivated’ and has ‘really achieved within a corporate environment across sales, marketing and a number of different aspects of business’. Yes, Kate – but what does that actually MEAN?

Kimberly Davis

Kimberly Davis

Kimberly’s an American – but ‘not a typical New Yorker’, which is a stereotype she says she’s faced. I don’t know what a typical New Yorker is. A hot dog vendor? A cab driver? George Costanza? She’s an accomplished musician and dancer, so should there be a musical round, her and Howard can team up and really impress with an all-singing, all-dancing song and dance.

Lorraine Tighe

Lorraine Tighe

The obligatory single-mother, Sugar will no doubt be onside with Lorraine as she’s had more life experience and has ‘had a very hard time’. She sums up her attitude to business as the ability to drive a dead horse to the winning line – which is pretty much what’s expected of her here – so good luck pushing those moribund equines to disaster, Lorraine.

Majid Nagra

Majid Nagra

Majid is a Business Development Manager who got expelled from school. Sadly no details are forthcoming regarding his expulsion – do they kick kids out for ‘schmoozing and bullshitting’? He runs youth charities and has his own car hire business and the papers point to the fact that he might be a source of comedy.

Mona Lewis

Mona Lewis

‘Former beauty queen’, it says here. Mona’s also not educated beyond her A Levels, and that lack of formal education will probably chime with Sugar. She says she wants to do this for her son, so expect much hand-wringing about wanting to provide her boy with the kind of opportunities she never had, etc…

Noorul Choudhury

Noorul Choudhury

Confusingly, Noorul has a CIM qualification – he’s a chartered marketer – but he works as a science teacher. A strange career change that, considering the CIM is bloody difficult to get. He also deals in cliches, believing himself to be ‘feisty’, ‘ambitious’ and ‘driven’. Interviewing this lot must’ve got terrible repetitive.

Paula Jones

Paula Jones

There’s often a mental redhead – remember Jo and last year’s Jennifer? – and ‘scatter-brained’ Paula looks like she might be there to fill that slot. She was born and raised in Wallsall, so we can look forward to editing that mocks her outrageous Brummie accent.

Phillip Taylor

Phillip Taylor

Phillip has the generic sales-face. Notice the complete lack of character and the identikit haircut. Completely unremarkable. But it’s very early days – for all I know he’s a genius and a wit, but on the strength of this quote: “Business is the new rock ‘n’ roll and I’m Elvis Presley”, chances are he’s not.

Rocky Andrews

Rocky Andrews


Seriously – ‘Rocky’??

Apparently ‘Rocky’ is on £100,000 per year already – so his only reason for appearing is good, ol’ fashioned showing off. He owns a chain of sandwich shops after leaving a promising career in football due to injury. God knows why he’s taking part.

Yasmina Siadatan

Yasmina Siadatan

Going by this photo, Yasmina looks to be quite suitable for television. Her profile blurb hasn’t annoyed me at all, and I’m not sure if that’s because of her presentable photo. It probably is.

Go Yasmina!

*   *   *

And that’s your lot. All of last year’s Apprentice reviews are here. if you’re feeling nostalgic.

See you on the morning of the 26th.

Naked: Office Workers

February 25, 2009

It’s as if the people over at BBC Three have created a programme on their Acorn Electron – a Future Commissions Generator, if you like – which gobbles up stats on past successes and then, based on the shows that got people talking, mocking or jeering, reformats them using as little originality as is electronically possible.

So, thanks to the FCG we’ve reached the point where Freaky Eaters has dispensed with the food theme completely, leaving us with just the ‘freaks’ (which is BBC Three-speak for people with hang-ups). Obviously they can’t make a show on that premise alone or they’d just be transmitting artfully lighted shots of a handful of neurotic people babbling in a white studio and bumping into one another, so they’ve nicked the ‘nudity’ from How To Look Good Naked and chucked it in to see if it works. And whether it works or not, they’ll put it out regardless.

The Naked strand is the result. Naked: Nurses, Naked: Office Workers, Naked: Tramps, Naked: Eunuchs – these days all you need to do to empower people is to convince them to take all their clothes off and, bingo! They’re walking, talking superbeings! Balls to logic and dispense with common sense – just strip to your duds and feel at one with the universe!

In Naked: Office Workers, Isha is a working mum with body issues. Victoria has the sense that her bottom is too big. So far, so Gok Wan – but the other participants are all concerned with issues outside of self-image. John feels he’s too short to be taken seriously. Noel is crippled by shyness and Victoria isn’t over her ex. It’s never explained why public humiliation will help these seemingly decent folk confront their issues in any depth or with any insight – it’s just an uncertain dive straight into the tasks with mentors Jonathan Phang and Emma Kelly, and we’re expected to go along with them.

Phang is an Image Consultant who has apparently ‘worked with supermodels’. I don’t know what that means, but he looks like an overweight Ronald Reagan. If his job is to guide people on how to present themselves, he clearly doesn’t listen to his own advice.

Kelly is his right-hand girl and she’s a psychologist, presumably at amateur level, and she’s there to gee people up and work them into a state of hypnotic suggestibility so that they’re prepared to bite the bullet and ‘move forward with their lives’. In layman’s terms, her job is to persuade them to get their kecks off.

A series of pointless tasks follows. A primal scream session, a period of smashing up computers taken straight from Office Space, the keeping of a ‘mirror diary’ and some public speaking in front of people who were presumably on their way home from the pub and had nothing better to do. There was also abseiling – just to fill in the gaps – and finally, before the money shots, some Big Brother style, at-home bickering between contestants. The fight, incidentally, had absolutely no substance but was treated with epic grandeur by the presenters, who acted as though savage war has broken out. They behaved as though, if the fight was allowed to carry on, there’d only have been mutilated corpses to photograph naked the next day.

After a lengthy, year-long hour they all had their photos taken, slipping off ill-fitting bathrobes and grinning stiffly. One contestant, John, dropped out at this point and it was hard to resist giving him a round of applause for not getting steered into the exploitative route the others were dragged down.

Finally the shots are displayed and some uplifting music kicks in. The viewer is presumably meant to be left convinced that the last hour has given everyone a good feeling about themselves. Stronger and more assertive. Viewer, programme-makers and contestants, all bettered by the sight of some nobodies getting their normal clothes off and standing sheepishly naked in a stately home.

Personally, despite the fact I look like an adonis under these stained garments, I could never go on one of these shows. Obviously I believe they work wonders for all involved, but I get on rather well with my neuroses. My hang-ups have been keeping me going for years. If I wasn’t a paranoid, insecure mess, I wouldn’t be where I am today – so hold back on the approach, BBC Three. I’m simply not interested.

Just a Thought – Jade on LivingTV

February 24, 2009


My interest in reality television runs its course when a series ends. The resulting deals – guest spots on the Tuesday Night Project, tabloid coverage, Heat covers, OK covers, Hello covers,  Now covers, Next covers – they’re all for morons, right?


So what the hell is going on with the coverage of Jade at the moment? The bizarre, sentimental freakiness of the last few days is enough to turn the stomach – both at the soft-focus, Max Clifford exploitation festival it’s becoming and also at the outright hypocrisy that’s dribbling out of the television and from the mouths of idiot journalists.

It’s not just the tabloid press. The higher-minded (but just as manipulative) broadsheets and nightly talking heads are also enjoying a spurt of repulsive self-analysis, disguised as altruism and goodwill. I’ve seen features on Newsnight and in The Observer and The Times – and no doubt I’ve missed many others.

Jade Goody occupies a very weird position in public knowledge. She’s the epitomy of the untalented celebrity, celebrated for nothing. Her normality is what made her famous and with fame as her ultimate aim, once she reached that peak there was nothing left for her to do but milk it. She was born without a silver spoon and with no talent to speak of, so all she could do was sell herself. And bizarrely, people handed over their cash.

The worst thing about this current state of affairs is the presence of circling vultures, literally waiting for the death of their prey before they can cash in their chips. So – I’ll share a few of my questions before my head implodes at this phenomenon.

  • Who is actually watching LivingTV’s ‘Jade’ – her new reality show in which the casual, morbid voyeur can watch a familiar face degenerating and dying?
  • Isn’t this a shameful enterprise, devoid of actual, meaningful content and consisting of nothing other than celebrity death?
  • It’s tasteful enough when it’s onscreen, but isn’t the screen soiled with sensationalism and grotesquery when the show’s switched off?
  • Who is that buys ‘Hello’ magazine so they can gawk at shots of Jack and Jade sharing their last, personal moment in front of millions?
  • How much does Max Clifford make in all this?

Jade and her family are being exploited to the tune of a few a thousand quid, earning it in a grim race against time so they can chuck soiled notes in a gaping grave. It’s as simple as that.

‘Ah’ – they counter… ‘but who is exploiting who?!’

As they say this they make that ‘aren’t I clever?’ face and raise an eyebrow as though they’ve made the most brilliant and insightful second hand comment in history. And, to be fair, it’s a difficult question to answer – the money she’ll receive will be monumental… but where’s the soul? The dignity? The meaning?

Can somebody let me know?

Boys & Girls Alone

February 11, 2009

Boys & Girls Alone Channel 4

I hated being a child. I chuckle with glee when I spot a grey hair on my thinning crown and dance a jig on my doddering old legs in celebration of the fact that I’m one increment further away from the horrendous swamp of bright colours and squawking idiocy that was childhood.

Childhood mainly seemed to involve making friends (often based on who could run fastest), those friends eventually pissing you off, you pissing them off in return and ultimately one of your number (possibly you) being ejected from favour and left to wallow in immature misery on the sidelines. With grass-stains all over your shorts and scabs on your knees. And then you’d get home late as a result and get a ruddy good telling off for your troubles from those looming, intolerable swines you were forced to call parents.

Childhood’s little more than a prolonged period of mania, like a horrible, frenetic dream. You’re constantly searching for answers and coming up short because you lack the experience to form conclusions. And if you’re not wandering around in a tight circle, despairing in the midst of what could be existential angst – but you don’t know because you’re too young to figure out what that actually means – you’re wasting the best years of your life absorbed in digging a hole in the garden with a spoon. And then getting told off for digging a hole in the garden and for bending the cutlery, again.

The concept of sharing stuff with your pals and siblings was one of the hardest ideas to get your soft head around. You were handed a bag of crisps, say, and your first instinct, wasn’t to say thankyou. You’d have to be prompted to do that. You’re not, in that first moment, remotely concerned with saving them for later.

You want to wolf them all down, every last maize snack or potatoey morsel. You don’t want to give a single scrap to anyone near you. You want to hide in a cupboard until you’ve stuck them all in your stomach and you’re damned if anyone’s going to stop you. But adults would make you share your crisps as you sat there in hand-me-down, discoloured trousers, diluting all the fun in one breath of unreasonable reason. The long-bodied bastards.

The worst of it all is that you didn’t know what you had until it had buggered off, leaving you in a bedsit with an overdraft and loads of forms to fill in. Suddenly it had all gone away, and those old sods who stopped you taking your Speak ‘n’ Spell into the bath had stopped giving you pizza and making your bed.

So I don’t envy the kids in Channel 4’s Boys & Girls Alone. They’re in the midst of an orgy of awful insanity, filled with thumps, recrimination and bitching arguments. After that, they’ve got a festival of hair-sprouting, self-doubt and insecurity to go through before they’re left to face the world of work without any real assistance (after a stint of humiliating themselves through ill-judged activities at University, if they’re unlucky enough to be shunted in that direction).

I feel even more sorry for them in that their own folks felt it’d be a good idea to stick them in a same-sex house for a couple of weeks unsupervised (apart from the odd social worker, solely placed there to prevent them from killing one another).

Two episodes have been and gone and the kids, in isolation, are charming. Full of hope and innocence, they trundle along contentedly or speed around willy nilly, without a care in the world. But the moment they come head to head with one another, as the production team probably predicted, fireworks follow. So many arguments, tears, physical and mental abuse, so much confused ideology smashed heartlessly by common sense, that it makes excellent television, but to describe it would be hopeless. With minds this undeveloped, it’s impossible to characterise or stereotype any of the infants as they’re learning every single day exactly who they are. Each one is simultaneously a bully and a victim, or an idiot and a genius in one stunted parcel.

As for the argument that this could impact negatively on the kids, I don’t buy it. I went on a PGL Adventure Holiday when I was a youngster – and the bizarre and ludicrous event that is ‘cub camp’ – and the antics we got up to on those jaunts (setting fire to a dead rabbit, force-feeding a fat kid dry pasta, reading lots of split-beaver porn and smoking proper fags) would put these kids to shame in the bad behaviour department.

The fact it’s televised is the only danger, I reckon. But these short-arse runts can just blame the whole thing on Mum and Dad when they become spotty adolescents. They’re bound to blame everything else on them anyway, so it won’t change a thing.

The Friday Question: You Produce!

January 23, 2009

production booth


The remit has been expanded to include any current affairs, news or magazine show.

Good morning.

Today’s Friday Question concerns the folk who lurk behind the scenes. The button-pushers, the format-tweakers and the devils in the shadows. I speak, of course, about the Reality TV Production Team.

They are the unseen heroes and villains of Reality TV. If it wasn’t for them, nobody on Masterchef would go on about how winning would be a dream come true, because they wouldn’t be asked constant, leading questions along the lines of ‘just how amazing would you feel if you won it?’.

The Apprentice cast wouldn’t be urged on with cumulatively aggressive questioning and Big Brother housemates wouldn’t, at audition stage, be encouraged to act like complete arseholes the second they get in the bungalow…

SO… If you were behind the scenes of any reality show, be it Wife Swap, Maestro, Strictly Come Dancing or any other that come to mind, how would YOU tweak the format?

You can add or take anything away from the usual progression of events. You can guide the participants to act in a certain way. You can even make everyone take all their clothes off! So that they’d be naked! With all tits and arses everywhere!

You are the Producer.

What will you do?