I cannot claim responsibility for this heading. It came from a very unlikely source and a man for whom I have little regard. On politics we could not be further apart and his outlook on life generally could not be more different to that of mine. Terry Christian is a DJ and social political commentator; he was also at one time a TV presenter.
When he made the claim ‘bear baiting’, he was referring to the Jeremy Kyle show which has been cancelled for a reason which I believe is opportune, although let me be crystal clear the cancellation has not come a minute too soon.
Christian himself was the purveyor of TV that plunged the depths of morality and intellectual entertainment. I remember a man drinking a pint of vomit and another eating a worm sandwich on his nonsense of a programme called ‘The Word’. It played to an audience though, mainly very late on a weekend evening so people, needing to be in drink to appreciate it were generally satisfied.
I remember the early days of the X-factor and a very large girl dressed in what looked like the lounge curtains made into a form of a dress presenting herself in front of the esteemed panel of Cowell, Osbourne and Walsh. She simply could not sing and was told so in a brutal fashion tinged with a great deal of mirth and merriment at her predicament. The family got involved and arguments ensued. ‘Great TV’ thought the producers.
Not I. I thought it was cruel and bullying. I felt for the girl who was of low intelligence and had been put up to it clearly by her family. At the end of the series they did a short monologue of those who had dared to put themselves in front of the cameras believing very wrongly that they were the next superstar. She was one of the ones paraded for us to scoff and guffaw at. Even some of those who could sing and sang very well were subjected to immense bullying and trolling and it still goes on today. That early episode of the X-factor was enough to put me off watching the programme for good.
The Apprentice is no better. The often eccentric contestants who have an amazingly high opinion of themselves are later in the show subjugated to a total stripping bare of their claims of achievement, made out to be liars and cheats. The interviews with a specialist episode is awaited by the audience with eager anticipation. It is actually an horrendous thing to do to someone, often young and in business in the full glare of the public where they can be ruined.
The Big Brother house has to be the worst example of reality TV that has ever existed. People chosen for their eccentricity and unusual outlooks and personality traits, thrown together for the public to look in on twenty four seven over six weeks. They are laid bare; they are wide open to being found out and their inner thoughts, actions and true personalities come through once the sheen has gone and they forget the cameras. Thank goodness it has had its day.
Jeremy Kyle (pictured above), trying 14 years ago the emulate the American Jerry Springer show, was launched onto our TV screens. It has become a staple diet for those who choose to immerse themselves in daytime television. It has made the host a very wealthy man, but he is not of the people. He is of a privately educated background. He sneers at and ridicules his guests and is a master, a true master at delving into their insecurities and anomalies.
Kyle plays and uses his guests to best maximise their faults and low education, because one constant amongst his audience is a low education. It is sickening TV, the worst of all voyeurism and at last it has gone.
The lie detector test is now taken as the absolute truth. No amount of pleading and crying denial will win over the audience and the host. It is, though, not an exact science. It is fallible but not in the eyes of Kyle. Kyle himself, so quick to denigrate and prosecute people for their infidelities and stupid actions, is not beyond examination. His own private life reads like an episode of his programme.
There is no clear demonstrable link to the man who was on the show, failed a lie detector test and then days later took his own life. It is not a stretch, though, to join up the dots. ITV has cancelled the show, 14 years old and well past its sell-by date, it is the right decision. But the wider implications still remain.
Love Island is a programme beset with contestants committing subsequent suicide, two to date. I do not know the reasons behind these suicides. I can only promulgate the idea that the celebrity life style they obviously craved and the attached earnings did not it seems come to fruition. Often these people find it difficult, or is it par for the course and an expectation, to find a long-lasting relationship. Who knows and who cares? The programme is going ahead this year though.
ITV the doyen of reality TV used to make programmes like World in Action, great costume dramas and reasonable British comedy. It opted, though, for the cheaper array of reality television. This satisfied the demand of the British public who salivated at others’ misery.
Surely the time is now right for a massive sea change back to responsible and interesting, informative educational programming, I won’t hold my breath.