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Life on TV
Sunday November 12 2000
Reporter Mariella Frostrup
Producer Toby Sculthorp
Assistant Producer Judith Ahern




Mariella Frostrup answered your questions on the issues raised in Life on TV in a live webcast. Click on the link below to watch coverage of the forum

Video56K


Mariella Frostrup reports from inside the reality television revolution. It's sometimes cruel, it's voyeuristic and often it's humiliating, and it seems we can't get enough of it.

Scroll down for related links

As broadcasters wake up to the huge commercial benefits of putting the public at centre stage Panorama asks just how far is television prepared to go to keep us tuned in and turned on.

The spectacle of people competing against one another has made for compelling television. It has proved irresistible, but at the same time it has raised questions about the responsibilities of the industry.

Mariella Frostrup and Nick Bateman
Big Brother brought notoriety for 'Nasty' Nick Bateman
Big Brother was the television event of the summer. The contestants became household names, which had a great impact on their lives. Nick says "I think that one of the problems with the whole show, the public thought it was real. They lost sight that it was a game show."

Melanie Hill thinks the contestants were exploited. She says "I feel angry with the programme makers because we had no idea what they were going to do with all the footage and what they did was manipulate it into our little stereotypes and unfortunately these stereotypes aren't real, they're just caricatures, which is a shame."

The people who go into the house know what is going to happen

Gary Carter
But Gary Carter of Endemol does not accept her criticism. He says "the people who go into the house know what is going to happen even if I accept if they're not fully aware at the time of going in of the repercussions on their lives."

He goes on to say "By the time you were eight in the United Kingdom and you're reading Hello and you know what Posh Spice says about the plight she finds herself in, you know what the media will do."

There are concerns that as the reality format progresses globally, there will be a desire to raise the stakes to keep people tuned. In Europe there are signs of more extreme voyeurism creeping in. Sex in Holland and Germany, fighting in of all places neutral Sweden.

Stuart Fischoff, Professor of Media Psychology at California State University, thinks that people will tire of the current formats. He says "they are going to have to escalate the ante - escalate it to the two basics - sex and violence - so we're are going to see more shows that will put people in greater jeopardy."

Jerry Springer
Jerry Springer pushes the boundaries of acceptable television
In America the drive to provide the public with what they want has already proved fatal. Nancy Campbell Panitz was brutally beaten to death the day her appearance on the Jerry Springer aired. Her ex-husband, Ralf, who also appeared on the show with her has been charged with second degree murder.

Attorney Geoffrey Fieger lays the blame with the programme . He tells Panorama, "that show took a known already volatile relationship and exploited it and re-enacted and re-created and created more hurt and more fear and more embarrassment."

Jerry Springer is credited as being the king of reality television in the US. He defends his show saying "People have to be responsible for their own behaviours, and if someone chooses to go on television, that's their responsibility."

Related links

Castaway 2000

Big Brother

Big Brother in the USA

The Jerry Springer show

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Life On TV
Mariella Frostrup asks Jerry Springer what the programme makers' responsibilities are
Life On TV
The BBC has to decide whether to embrace the Reality Television format

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