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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 August 2005, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Greer suggests reality TV lessons
By Tom Bishop
BBC News entertainment reporter at Edinburgh TV Festival

Germaine Greer
Greer walked out of the Big Brother house
Children should be taught how to watch reality TV so they can understand that the "reality" it presents can be manipulated, Germaine Greer has said.

Professor Greer told Edinburgh TV Festival her experience on Celebrity Big Brother taught her that all TV footage "can be slanted".

Big Brother footage was edited to "direct attention to particular people and present them as winners", she said.

School children should be shown how to "interpret" TV imagery, she said.

In what was billed as the Alternative MacTaggert lecture, Greer said: "I am not here to blame television for anything.

Bez won Celebrity Big Brother in January 2005

"But I am concerned that consumers of TV are not the discriminating, criticising consumers of TV they ought to be."

Greer said that viewers were generally aware that editorial judgements were made concerning news footage on television.

"The way the footage is used provokes in us a feeling of recognition and a feeling of certainty that we know what happened," she said.

"But if we are intelligent we must still be concerned about what actually happened."

She left the Channel 4 show after five-and-a-half days, saying producers had used "superior bullying tactics" and behaved irresponsibly.

She was in the house, surveyed 24 hours a day by TV cameras, with personalities including racing pundit John McCririck and DJ Lisa I'Anson.

Viewers got to vote each day on who should be evicted.


On Sunday Greer said that once contestants had been selected as "winners" by the show's producers, "they have to really screw up big time to tip out of the frame".

Greer added that footage presented by the show as "live" was "to my mind never real time".

"When I came out I saw footage that had been shot the day before because I remembered the incident it showed."

In the most recent series of Big Brother, Greer felt viewers "should have been outraged" when the 100,000 top prize money was split between two contestants.

"This was tyranny, but you expect with tyranny a response from the public. There was not one."

'Strange reality'

She said the constant surveillance undergone by reality show contestants has an "insidious" effect on them and can lead them to behave out of character.

Greer said this was evident when contestant Kinga Karolczak performed a sex act on television in the latest series of Big Brother.

"Did Kinga really mean to humiliate herself to that extent?" she said.

Greer said people had generally become more fearful of crime, leading them to remain indoors and watch television - which they often regarded as "reality".


"They should be aware that when they look through that frame they are being shown a strange reality," she concluded.

"The rest of the world lies outside, unexamined and incomprehensible."

She said broadcasters and programme makers should be "empowering viewers, not impoverishing them".

"We need to know what the information industry is up to," she added.

"It needs to be prepared to give people information that so far they have not thought to ask for."

  • BBC One is considering revamping the motif which replaced its globe "idents" theme three years ago.

    The current idents include three basketball players in wheelchairs dancing to hip hop, and a couple dancing salsa.

    BBC One Controller Peter Fincham told the festival, there could be change on the way.

    "We are looking at those," he said. "They came on air in March 2002 and it may well be that the time is coming to look at a new way of doing it.

    "No date or direct decision has been made but it's under review."

    Germaine Greer speaks to Newsnight

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