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Eleanor Forrest: Are we keeping it real or is it too much?

Weekend | Published:

Has reality TV gone too far? After the ground-breaking first series of Big Brother, a plethora of reality TV shows exploded onto our screens as nearly every channel began creating similar programmes each with their own twist.

Reality bites – Bear Grylls, Kim Woodburn and the Bake Off team

Enter Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls, that definitely takes the reality TV scenario to the extreme.

Bear asks participants to fend for themselves, making their own shelter and finding their own food, whilst he sails off into the sunset and into a Four Seasons king-sized bed only gracing the contestants with his presence when its time for one of them to go.

After this year’s contestant Paris Lees quit Celebrity Island, due to worrying weight loss and an illness, we watched as the remaining contestants haphazardly strangled a, conveniently placed, pig for food.

As TV channels continuously push the boundaries, it beg’s the question; Has reality TV gone too far?

This point couldn’t be more demonstrated with the case of Kim Woodburn, who’s behaviour turned into a violent meltdown that saw her alienated from all of her fellow contestants and eventually placed in a separate room by the show’s security.

Now if she was really that much of a problem surely she’d be asked to leave entirely? And, shouldn’t she have been made to leave and be given the break she clearly needed?

Alas no, TV’s insatiable need to watch every bit of anarchy to increase ratings, demanded more. This was further demonstrated by the tired old script that is the feud between Mrs Woodburn and Loose Women’s Coleen Nolan which is simply a ‘money grab’ after leaving the Big Brother House, which Kim admitted.

With each new variant of the Big Brother scenario, it seems that viewers have become increasingly desensitised and accustomed to the original shock aspect these programmes incorporated.

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Reality bites – Bear Grylls

Since it was announced that the Titan of the genre, Big Brother, would be cancelled after it’s 2018 season its become clear that the initial drama and fascination that the basic formant once encouraged is now falling on deaf ears.

It seems Channel 5 has moved on while upping the stakes, with their new series Celebs in Solitary where we can sit and watch famous faces sit in, you guessed it, solitary confinement for five days.

As a fan of reality TV shows such as the Great British Bake Off and Strictly Come Dancing, the appeal is certainly clear.

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Watching these shows is usually done with friends and family so there’s a social side to this kind of viewing and the distraction of sitting down to watch people bake like I never could and dance like I think I can, is welcome.

So what will we have next? How will reality TV evolve from here?

If Bear Grylls’ portfolio is anything to go by, we might start seeing celebs go head-to-head with handmade weapons or contestants of the much loved Great British Bake Off might be required to make a life-sized replica of a gingerbread house in under two hours and then sit in fear as they vie for the Star Baker award and Paul Hollywood to bestow his silent handshake of approval.

Reality TV has become intertwined with our lifestyles. Consuming it might not be the best thing for our brains but the enjoyment gained combined with the social element mean that shows of the genre have become a staple diet to weekday evening wind-downs.

But when does entertainment stop becoming good-natured and start becoming nonsensically cruel and could we spot it when it makes an appearance?

Eleanor Forrest

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