susan-boyleI’ve just heard the Guardian’s Tanya Gold on World Have Your Say say that Susan Boyle wasn’t on a talent show: Cowell, Morgan and the one with the botox weren’t interested in her talent, they were interested only in her journey. Miss Gold is absolutely right but sadly we’ve been here a thousand times before . . .

A good friend of mine is a producer on one of America’s most successful ‘reality’ TV shows. This is part of an e-Mail he sent me in 2006 when we were mulling over ideas for a new show:

a reality show is a reality show. Don’t pitch it as a competition show. Pitch it as the dramatic stories of individuals who all have to compete in this tournament to achieve a personal goal in their own lives. The competition should only serve as a backdrop to their personal journey, their struggle to prove to themselves, their family, their parole officer, the doctor who has given them 6 months to live, the reformed alcoholic/junkie who has set this as a goal to turn his life around, the single dad seeking respect from his estranged wife and child…etc…or the arrogant, cocky rich kid who has had every advantage in life and doesn’t appreciate or respect anyone or anything and he either changes by association with these people and events. Get it? What networks want now are human interest stories, a reason to cheer someone on, or hope they fail.

It’s that last bit that bites doesn’t it?

“A reason to cheer on or hope they fail”.

Well with Susan Boyle the world didn’t just get its bread, we got the circus too. Three weeks plus of cheering to be exact towards the end of which — at some point in the last few days I reckon — there was an imperceptible change in the wind and slowly but surely the inexorable inversion of the world’s thumbs from nice, happy up to get lost and leave us alone down was kicked into motion. We’re at the mid-way point now and it remains unclear whether SuBo will disappear down that hate-strewn hole reserved for the likes of Michelle McManus, Steve Brookstein and Belgian paedophiles but one thing’s for sure, if you’re the type of person who shouts at X-Factor, Pop Idol, BGT (insert lame show title of your choice here) be aware there are cynical people in TV who actually take bets on what the audience reaction will be at a certain point in the show . . . they rarely lose.

As the above passage hopefully shows, we’re all on a journey, it’s the folks in TV who are driving though.


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