Wednesday, May 11, 2005

On Reality Television

On Reality Television

Greetings to my esteemed colleagues, who have found these pages for the first time through the pages of the staff magazine. You are obviously wondering what the hell’s going on, and what this has got to do with The Values. Answer: stuff all. This one’s for you.

It's clear now that ITV's Celebrity Wrestling is the biggest flop since the day Dolly Parton became the victim of The Tennessee Bra Burglar. People, it seems, are coming to their senses and just don't want to see terrible shouty programmes just because they've got That Woman Who Might Have Shagged David Beckham on it. At last, the population has realised that it is simply brainless television shoddily made.

Of course, Celebrity Wrestling, as a concept, could have been brilliant. But it suffers from one massive handicap: they let ITV make it, stripping out any sense of fun, style or wit in the name of shouty shouty thicky trash.

Where are, enquiring minds want to know, the grudge matches that really matter? A Blur vs Oasis royal rumble. Valerie Singleton vs John Noakes. And naturally, Kirstie Allsopp vs Sarah Beeny in a paddling pool full of baby oil, just for personal preference.

Hell's Kitchen. What is that? A bunch of Z-listers cooking for other Z-listers. The only programme ever where you are rooting for the salmonella and an armed gang of health inspectors to bring the proceedings to an early end.

So. Where do we go from here? There was a time when being a celebrity meant something, to have achieved greatness through entertainment, public works, or, if pushed, sports. Now every bugger who has ever gone running to Max Clifford with a sob story or some tale of John Leslie's trouser snake is feted as some sort of superstar, fodder for the red tops and the satanic celebrity magazines they have spawned.

Sigh. If only our television were more like Italy's. The Italians really know how to put on variety, and put out wall-to-wall shows of some class that ITV can only hope for. Then they buy up the formats and fail miserably (Man O Man, anybody?) The Italians have very strict rules about who becomes a celebrity and who does not. I believe the qualifying standard is 36-DD. John McCrirrick wouldn't stand a chance, unless he goes up by at least one cup size.

ITV executives take note. Channel Five has Ron Jeremy, Flavor Flav, a porn star and a large, green duck living on a farm this week. That’s proper rubbish television, that is. You need to commission one (if not all) of the following programmes immediately if you want to break the BBC's Doctor Who stranglehold on the ratings. Trust me, I'm a professional.

* Celebrity Crucifixion - put it up against Songs of Praise and Jade Goody's slow, painful death will take 'em to the cleaners.

* Mel's Kitchen - Get Mel C, Mel Smith Mel Giedroyc and loads of other famous people called Mel, slaughter them painfully, cook them and serve them up to John McCrirrick and Michael Winner in a fine Hollandaise sauce. Come to think of it, Bonnie Langford played Mel in Doctor Who. That's good enough for me.

* Big Brother - None of that crap where "wacky" "tossers" sit around a house all day. I suggest we skip that entirely and go straight for the bit where Winston Smith is forced to wear a helmet containing starving, rabid rats. Celebrity of choice: Jimmy "The reason I can't watch my TV any more" Carr.

* The Running Man - Oh come on, it's the natural conclusion of the whole genre, and only a matter of time before Ian Huntley gets his big break (both of his legs).

* Chav! - A group of has-beens and never-weres are filmed (using security camera footage only) living - and competing with the natives - in the roughest council estate ITV can find, where they must aim to become King of the Chavs whilst fed on a diet consisting entirely of Red Stripe lager and turkey twizzlers. Then, the footage is carefully edited together and burned as a lesson to all concerned.

* Emmerdale - One day you're an A-list celebrity, married to one of the most famous names in music and doing Hollywood blockbusters. The next, you're in Leeds. Life, eh Patsy?

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