Something’s really been bugging me about reality TV shows like I’m A Celebrity
PUBLISHED: 18:28 27 November 2019 | UPDATED: 18:28 27 November 2019
They may have stopped eating live animals on I’m A Celebrity, but it doesn’t mean the show still seems desperate for TV ratings, says David Clayton
You know that feeling when you're all alone with your opinion? That moment when you find yourself saying, "Is it just me?" When you don't want to sound out of kilter with popular culture? Well I'm alright now. I feel vindicated.
I'm always up for a bit of knockabout TV fun and I can get drawn-in by a bit of jeopardy, so I was what you might call a lukewarm fan of programmes such as I'm a Celebrity.
I could grimace like everyone else at the creepy-crawly and gunky challenges and revel in the discomfort of whoever was on the wrong end of the "game." What used to make me uncomfortable was the general disregard for the creatures who were unwitting participants in the various trails.
As grubs, bugs and slippery reptiles were thrust into the usually confined space shared by a soap star, (sorry, who is that again?) I didn't give much of a chance that they'd all emerge alive from the panicked thrashings of the celeb. A bit of a squash in more ways than one. I'd harrumph at this apparent disregard for living creatures just to make money, but no one seemed to agree. I just skim the surface of social media so only saw enthusiastic fans of the jungle reality show expressing sympathy or proclaiming victory for their favourite luvvie (sorry, still not sure, who is that again?).
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ITV have said they've been thinking about it for some time and no live animals will be eaten in the bush-tucker trails from now on. They'll be dead. Well that's alright then. Presumably some ITV lacky will be pacing up and down in some insect farm in the hope enough bugs will die of natural causes just in time to be shoved in the mouth of him or her off the telly.
I hadn't seen myself as Chris Packham's bedfellow, but it appears I am. The TV naturalist has led the charge on this.
I fear you'll now lump me into the "killjoy" category, but I'm not against the rich and famous being subjected to discomforting challenges for our amusement. Rest assured there are hefty fees involved and they really didn't have to sign the contract. You can show me Leo Sayer going into meltdown in the Big Brother House, a few series back, as many times as you like. He was miffed about a lack of fresh underpants so broke down doors and confronted burly security guards twice his size with a foul-mouthed tirade as he tried to escape the Big Brother house at Elstree. Big Brother kept all their cameras rolling (quelle surprise!) and even when an anguished producer suggested his copious fee was in jeopardy, if he did break free in search of clean underwear, Leo reached further into his library of expletives and articulated, in a manner of speaking, that he didn't' much care. He spewed forth many colourful phrases which never made it into his hit songs.
I suppose if you don't get the "Strictly" call and no one wants you to pirouette on ice, your only hope is the "I'm a Celebrity" booking office ringing your agent. Let's be honest it's not a bad gig, you get flown out to Australia, I'm guessing not economy class, and for a couple of weeks do not very much while enjoying prime time exposure. It beats panto in Swindon hands down.
Our flirtation with reality TV shows no signs of abating and it gets ever more fanciful and extreme in search of ratings, or at least notoriety to drive those ratings. It's rarely "reality," more truthfully heavily edited "reality" to create a narrative the producers want us to see.
But, as far as this TV genre is concerned, I suppose it's a case of each to his own. I can't get enough of Our Yorkshire Farm on Channel 5 with the redoubtable Amanda Owen and her nine kids. A rather more wholesome "reality."
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