If you want proof positive that we Brits have in these times of austerity retained our sense of irony, you need look no further than our mainstream reality shows.
Britain’s Got Talent is one of ITV’s flagship shows and is the show of choice for no-hopers and wannabees seeking fame and fortune. The clue to the show’s remit, you would have thought, is in the title. But that didn’t stop the great British public who awarded a Hungarian mimetic ballet troupe the premier accolade.
Turning over to the Beeb, we have the Voice, a show with a format which at best seems half-formed. The judges hear the contestants but don’t see them and so judge them on the quality of their voice alone. So far so good. But the show descends into just another karaoke competition once the judges know who they are. However, the British public have rescued the Beeb who have been wrestling to no avail with the problem of how to perfect the format by awarding Andrea Begley the crown. So now we have a show which starts out with a panel of judges who cannot see the contestants being won by a singer who cannot see the judges – perfect!
So where do reality shows go from here?
Britain’s Got Talent did, apparently, produce the TV highlight of the year so far when viola player, Natalie Holt, left her seat in the orchestra to pelt the particularly oleaginous Svengali, Simon Cowell, with eggs. Hold on to that thought a second.
Rod Liddle asked in the latest edition of the Spectator what must rate as the question of the week – which television chef would you most like to see throttled in a restaurant? Whilst I agree with him that Nigella Lawson wouldn’t have been top of my list, I think there is the kernel of an idea here.
As a nation we like to build up our celebs only to knock them down again with gusto. How about a reality show that involves the great British public selecting a celeb for some form of public humiliation? The list of candidate groups – bankers, politicians, minor royals, irritating TV personalities – is so extensive that there will be no shortage of programme material.
The more I think about it, this may well be the route to salvation that the British reality TV industry is desperately seeking. Now where did I put Endemol’s telephone number?