Brainfood: It'll never fly - Reality TV

The banality of everyday life shouldn't make for good television. Washing up, brushing teeth, eating and making tea are not entertaining plot lines - watching paint dry is surely more exciting. The rules state that good TV is about the unusual or the glamorous, but Big Brother has put paid to that idea. When Channel 4 first locked up a motley collection of students and misfits five years ago to be followed by cameras every second of their boring lives, a whole new genre of TV programme was born. The rest, as they say, is history. Channel 4's BB morphed from an experimental format into a megabuck-earning phenomenon.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Quick on its heels came Celebrity Detox, Wife Swap and I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!, last year's most-watched reality TV programme. It quickly became clear that anyone and anything was fair game for the new genre, but the more vulgar, bitchy and desperate, the better. A D-list celebrity who'd be prepared to eat jungle bugs? Warfare between a middle-class snob and a single mum of eight? Inspired! Nothing is taboo - even down to what you eat and what comes out the other end (You Are What You Eat). With such a loose format, reality TV can continue to plumb the depths of humanity and celebrity for material. Apparently, there are 200 such shows in production this year, including the ice-skating gem Stars on Thin Ice with Torvill and Dean. Unfortunately, the reality genre shows no real sign of abating.

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