In a Label Online Exclusive, we've got the extended edition of 'The Reality TV Factor' from Issue 2 of Label Magazine. Read more thoughts from our writers in this, the first of a three part special, right here on Label Online.

Ok, so we all know the general rules regarding the production of a reality TV show, especially when it comes to ‘Big Brother’.

Rule number 1; find the most incompatible, fame hungry civilians of the UK to live altogether under one roof. What can go wrong?

Rule number 2; similar to Disney’s ‘Happy’, ‘Dopey’ and ‘Grumpy’, each housemate must fulfil a character role; for example, there HAS to be a contestant(s) so mind bogglingly stupid that the only viable explanation for it would be that their brain was possibly evicted at birth.

Rule number 3; obstacles must be engineered to ensure a sense of ULTIMATE CHAOS. The tension this creates is genius – will housemates survive without hot water for a whole week? Sometimes I don’t know how I didn’t fall off the edge of my seat.

Now this sounds like the set up from hell, and I know I’ve been quite cynical but in all honesty when that club anthem of a theme tune blasted out of my television set in the year 2000, I was drawn in like an auditionee to a bright light. I’m not proud of this.

It’s trash, I told myself, but there was something about the sweet Geordie tones of Markus Bentley narrating each time a contestant made a trip to the bathroom that was simply magical.

Ok, maybe not magical, but for reasons unknown I wanted to see more. I wanted to sit in the comfort of my own home and watch people. Now I’m no expert, but replace the element of television with a public place, and now add in a trench coat and a pair of binoculars, and this is a borderline criminal offense. Is it weird that people like to watch other people?

It seems to run in the family, bar my brother. Dad is the sort who would say he’s not interested but in the corner of your eye you would see him edging nearer towards the telly, until finally sitting down and hoping no one had noticed his personal defeat.

Mum auditioned for the show. Yes, you read it right, my 53 year old mother was desperate to go from living in our house, to living in another house, with a load of people she probably couldn’t stand and wouldn’t last five minutes with.

I don’t even think she really knew why she wanted to be a part of it. No, ‘Big Brother’ is not at all insightful or educational, but wasn’t it brilliant when a contestant was having a bitch in the diary room and didn’t realise it was being aired to the rest of his/her housemates?

I have to admit however that ever since ‘Big Brother’ left Channel 4 and I’ve grown older, I can take it or leave it; probably leave it. 10 series were enough, and it’s time to move on.

So we make way for new reality drama, such as the X Factor; and we have those beautiful moments – you know the ones. When some facially challenged, seemingly delusional contestant limps from the wings towards the ‘x’ marked on the stage and then howls the eerie notes of ‘Mad World’. Simon raises his hand and asks her if she has a second song, then suddenly she belts out ‘I Will Always Love You’ as if she were Whitney Houston’s double; we sit back in amazement, and the words ‘Omg, do you think that was staged?’ fall effortlessly from our mouths.

It’s real life, just in a different form. For me, personally, it’s a love hate relationship, and there is a certain degree of snobbery regarding the subject, so if anybody asks, reality TV is rubbish…


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