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Thursday, 31 May, 2001, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Are you sick of reality TV?
Two big reality TV series - Survivor and Big Brother - have just started in the UK.

Survivor - which has already been a huge hit in the US - involves sixteen "marooned" contestants on a deserted island, competing with each other for a 1m prize.

So far, audiences have been disappointing, but ITV executives are confident they will pick up.

Meanwhile, Channel 4 is hoping the second series of Big Brother will repeat last year's runaway success.

Reality TV is a favourite with broadcasters all over the world, with versions of both shows being screened around the globe.

Are you watching? Does it keep you on the edge of your seat or are you sick of reality TV?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction

I think we're reaching meltdown with all this. Once viewing figures start decreasing, TV schedulers might start putting real dramas back on, instead of a bunch of 'real' egomaniacs. I must admit though, I loved the first series of Big Brother!
Steve, England

Sad telly for sad people

Richard Hough, UK
Sad telly for sad people - this genre really is for folks with nothing but time on their hands. The only version that was any good was the one for Children in Need - very funny and super acting from the cast.
Richard Hough, UK

'Reality TV' - not so. Reality is a hard, complex phenomenon that most of us ignore most of the time. TV has replaced the fantasy world of movies we used as an escape in the 20s and 30s. 'Fantasy escape' might be a better term for a lot of these programmes than reality TV. After all, where in life do we dig in a beach and find a chest containing fifty thousand pounds. Reality? You're dreaming!
Peter, New Zealand

Big Brother and Survivor plumb the depths of mind-numbing banality. I would rather watch paint drying. They also take up far too much airtime.
Ray, U.K.

I quite enjoyed the original Big Brother

James, England
I quite enjoyed the original Big Brother and watched it quite avidly towards the end. However, I have tried to watch a few episodes of the new series, and have found it's like turning on your favourite soap to find the whole cast has changed.
James, England

This type of television brings out the worst side of human nature and should be discouraged.
Judith Wood, England

I am firmly of the opinion that people should be entitled to watch the programmes of their choice on television - the Reality TV shows do not appeal to me, so I don't watch them - actually, I actively avoid them. However, not only are the schedules becoming crammed with them from all countries, even respectable news websites are full of related stories. Let's face it, people will always whinge about the lack of decent programmes, but the sooner the Reality TV trend ends, the better. Then we can all get on and criticise some other bunch of rubbish!
Richard, Brisbane, Australia

No one really believes any of this reality TV nonsense. That 'Blair' character could easily be replaced by a puppet (Lord Charles without the monocle perhaps?), while nobody really speaks like the 'Hague' bloke. And as for the Ginger Scottish 'Kennedy' character, he should stick to game shows (yes, we've seen him on Have I Got News For You), as he's completely unconvincing in the role of a politician.
Paul E. Bednarczyk, United Kingdom

Reality TV? How can anyone call this reality TV? How can 6, 8 or however many people it is being locked up in a house together be called reality? Where's the realism please? Those amongst us who actually enjoy this kind of stuff should seriously consider getting off the sofa and getting a life instead!
Nadia Akhtar, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

It is only as real as the producers want to make it

Christopher W Whybrow, Philippines
It is only as real as the producers want to make it. How come that guy on Survivor had a helicopter rescue? I thought they were supposed to be isolated? Boring - moronic programming. What ever happened to educational programming?
Christopher W Whybrow, Philippines

I watched Big Brother the first time round (on and off), but I've not watched any of the other shows, nor have I watched the new Big Brother. I think it is all very boring and yes, the alternative may only be soap operas, but in all honesty, I think I'll exercise my right to use the "off" switch! I mean, no one is forcing anyone to watch these programmes. If you don't like them, don't watch them! If the producers don't get enough money from the viewing figures, then they won't continue to make them. If they do get enough money, then obviously the shows are popular with a large group of people, and they pay their licence fees like everyone else (well, most of them!), so why shouldn't they be allowed to watch what they enjoy? It comes down to the one simple fact that everyone seems to forget - all televisions come with an off switch!
Jenni, UK

It's called "Reality TV", but of course the last thing it bears any resemblance to is reality. A group of self-selecting individuals willing to degrade themselves in a contrived situation for the sake of a brush with fame and the chance at a wedge of cash. "Idiot TV" would be nearer the mark...
Raj Rijhwani, UK

The Spanish version of Castaway was very well done

Joanna, Spain
Well, I have to say that the Spanish version of Castaway was very well done. As for the other versions of reality TV, I think that they are very boring - especially second time round!
Joanna, Spain

Clearly I don't live in the real world. Every day I see people aged over 35, many of whom are short, or fat, or ugly, or boring. Interestingly such people don't exist in the "real worlds" of Big Brother and Survivor.
John, UK

The reason this TV is popular is that it allows many members of the population to indulge in the two things they do best - 1) bad and inaccurate analysis of other people's personalities and 2) taking part in the "that's just like me, that is" conversation. Both make the viewer feel more important. I can't wait for reality TV to go away.
Michael, UK

Big Bruv rules, OK

Kim Smith, Great Britain
Big Bruv rules, OK. I have absolutely no sympathies for the "Survivor" tribes - shower more like! They are NOT fending for themselves and are not at all interesting viewing. Big Brother on the other hand would always win, as people are "imprisoned" together and after a while even the most mild-mannered, unassuming individual will go "stir crazy" and perform. However, where are the older generation represented? Voters, vote Anne in.
Kim Smith, "Great Britain"

Bah! I don't have a TV. I live in reality!
Samba, UK

As always the TV producers do not know when to stop. The scenarios become more and more outlandish and unrealistic and devoted to "telegenic" men and women. Not really reality. Enough is enough.
Lloyd Gurney, UK

People who claim that this is a true insight into the human psyche are greatly misguided

SEB, England
People who claim that this so-called 'reality TV' is a true insight into the human psyche are greatly misguided, either that or we will have to count shows like 'Eastenders' and 'Coronation Street' as in-depth investigations into the human psyche. To be honest I found 'Big Brother' rather dull. Survivor was more interesting but I think Jack Dee summed it up best when he talked about the lighter which was washed up on the beach - now isn't that a coincidence? I reckon that it must have been dropped by the camera crew. Also, out of interest, how alone can they be on that island, there is a whole bunch of people filming them!!
SEB, England

The beauty of Big Brother in its first series was that no-one inside the house was aware of the media attention they were about to get. Now the residents of BB2 are going to expect to be mobbed and get slots on daytime television - how predictable! You can see on these programmes now that 'members of the public' are joining in as an 'in' to the industry.
Nic, England

So-called reality TV reflects on the empty talents among our broadcasters. Also, its popularity shows our obsession with other people's lives.
PVG Opal, UK

We're turning into a culture of voyeuristic viewers

Elvis Pack, UK
I am sick of reality TV, as it's not even entertaining. TV is for entertainment, who wants to watch ordinary members of the public on the TV in place of good entertainment ie "non-reality"? We're turning into a culture of voyeuristic viewers. I managed to resist Big Brother 1, so I'll resist Big Brother 2 as well.
Elvis Pack, UK

The survivor and castaway shows are an attempt to reinforce the 'survival of the fittest' myth that underpins capitalist ideology. The format is a laboratory experiment, but to make sure the results fit the ideology, competition is built into the show. By replacing actors with real people the producers can fool people into thinking they are getting some 'real' insight into human psychology.
Andrew, New Zealand

It's a fraud and far from being real life!

Borge, Norway
Why do we call this reality TV, when in truth someone is behind the scenes to manipulate the contestants into acting in such a way that the ratings go up. It's a fraud and far from being real life!
Borge, Norway

I was initially hooked to the idea of reality TV by the time the last few episodes of the original Big Brother took place. It was new and different. But now with a flood of all these programmes, and the contestants being "encouraged" to become more than just friends... isn't this treading a dangerous path where we want to see more and more realism every time (And of course it won't be if they are encouraged to perform to the camera)? I noticed The Running Man on TV the other night. Although the film generally was pretty awful, it does make a good point of where this is all taking us and the stronghold of the media over our lives generally.
John C, Colchester, UK

It's hardly 'reality' TV, when the people on these shows are pretending to be something they are not, to win the money.
Bru, Ireland

Bring back the documentary makers of the seventies

Kieran, Wales
What happened to the days when a documentary crew would stay with the group or person long enough for the subject to forget the cameras and act almost naturally? Am I remiss in remembering the 'reality' TV of the seventies - the Ark Royal's last voyage, the centre for troubled youth trying new 'liberal' methods and the man going through a sex change? These were intelligent and brilliantly made documentaries - not the playing the chameleon for audiences to win fame and cash. Bring back the BBC documentary makers of the seventies, a tasteless decade but damn good documentaries.
Kieran, Wales

For anyone interested in reality TV might I recommend the Ten O'clock News?
Chris, UK

I don't know anyone remotely like the people on Big Brother, nor would I want to. They aren't the least interesting, and haven't a thought in their heads beyond preening. So why would I want to watch such folk on TV, for goodness sake? The mystery is: where do the producers manage to find so many contestants with a mental age in the low teens? Are there lots of such folk around, or does it take a hard search to find them?
John McNeil, Scotland

Big Brother - Great and original

MS, UK
Survivor - boring. Big Brother - great and original. That sums it up really.
MS, UK

I think the most lamentable thing about reality TV is that it has made previously tolerable, if not necessarily interesting, conversation with co-workers entirely unbearable. "You see Survivor last night?" "Who do you think will get kicked off next?" I suppose it gives people with nothing to say something to talk about...
Evi, Canada

I have only watched part of one show and wondered if I had lost the plot for doing that. I have never seen anything so stupid in my life. Watching grass grow or paint dry is probably more inspiring. If this and shows like it (or equally banal and aimed at the lowest mental denominator) are all TV companies can offer in the way of entertainment, I suggest that the powers-that-be consider cutting the power to these TV companies and encourage the populace to go back to the steam radio or better still, reading books.
Duncan Robinson, Taiwan, R.O.C.

I'm amazed it interests anyone - but it apparently does

Nathaniel, England, UK
If it's what people want to watch and so long as it doesn't affect the making of quality programmes, then by all means do reality TV. But I won't ever be a viewer, because it just doesn't interest me, and I'm amazed it interests anyone - but it apparently does.
Nathaniel, England, UK

This so called 'reality' TV is a farce. Who is going to act as they do normally when they know that there are TV cameras in the building or following them around. Do the producers really think that all of us are that stupid to believe that this is people behaving as they do when the cameras are not around? The 'reality' TV theme has been completely over-used and the themes are getting either ridiculous or repetitive.
Rob, Germany, UK ex-pat

Will we all simply sit down and tune into footage of ourselves at work that day?


Ben Bond, England
Didn't Andy Warhol predict that everybody would have fifteen minutes of fame? Now that it's actually happening, would any of our cultural gurus care to hazard a guess at the future? Will we all simply sit down and tune into footage of ourselves at work that day?
Ben Bond, England

Why is everyone so set on "reality" when it comes to entertainment, anyway? Isn't the goal of entertainment to escape reality? What's next - "reality music" featuring a fellow clearing his throat and humming for 45 minutes?
Jeremiah Kauffman, USA

Reality TV has its place but please, not at the expense of good entertainment!
Jesse, Australia

We don't have a telly. Even so I'm even sick of hearing about them.
Edwyn, Wales, UK


Survivor Africa is coming in a couple of months



Carol, Australia

If Survivor has just started in the UK, then there is a huge possibility that viewers can log onto their web site and find out who won and so spoil the surprise of watching the whole series 'til the end. In Australia we were very lucky to see both Survivor 1 and 2 simultaneously with the USA and seeing the final episode of both series only approx 7 hours difference, due to the time zones. The UK needs to catch up real quick as Survivor Africa is coming in a couple of months. The Aussie Big Brother is just so slow - who wants to sit on the sofa watching people sitting on the sofa doing nothing?
Carol, Australia

I bet Survivor's so far poor ratings have been a real shock to ITV. Their PR machine will really have to work overtime now. Maybe ITV viewers have been conditioned to only watch soaps and whodunits. I still believe ratings will pick up, but when? Expect the half-hour interview show to be moved out of peak time... you heard it here first!
Andrew Wardlaw, UK

I stopped watching television over 3 years ago and I must say my own reality is much more interesting.
Mark Crossland, UK

Can't they put all the "reality" TV programmes on one channel so I can avoid them easily?
Steve, UK



Is it only me or has TV lost the whole concept of quality?



Dustin, Australia


Is it only me or has TV lost the whole concept of quality? Now, all we get is a bunch of amateurs doing the mundane. And if that isn't the case, it's about a hospital or law firm or police station full of drama and over kill. Where has the beauty of wit and true comedy gone?
Dustin, Australia

'Big Brother' had its moments of genuinely riveting entertainment. The trouble is that many people working in TV today lack the foresight to come up with anything original and inevitably decide that the public want more of the same. This then drowns something like the first series of BB in a sea of banality.
Get some genuinely talented people to work in TV instead of those who say the right things to the right people but haven't got a clue when it comes to making exciting, stimulating programmes.
Neil Stoneham, UK

I watched the US versions of Survivor I and II. I think it's the best thing on TV in a long time; it's the only primetime show I've watched on the big US networks in a couple decades. However, I don't like the Big Brother show. I watched the first episode of that and never watched another. I recommend you try Survivor...once you've watched a couple episodes you'll know the participants and want to stay tuned to see the psychological dynamics unfold among them.
Paul, USA

I love watching the inter-character relationships. I found it interesting that the English "Survivors" voted off the aggressive people first. It also makes great TV to see the "gutted" looks on their faces when they realise that the other group members find them the least tolerable in spite of other commendable skills. If only we could vote such annoying people out of our own lives like this!
Seb, UK



Big Brother 2 was CRACKING viewing on Saturday - all those egos there, waiting to be crushed



Bobby, London


Oh, lighten up, Big Brother 2 was CRACKING viewing on Saturday - all those egos there, waiting to be crushed... Lighten up, people - you don't have to watch it if you don't want to.
Bobby, London

'Reality'? What could be less real than being locked up on a compound with little to do except lay about and perform the most moronic tasks? This isn't reality, it's just another attempt to further blur the dividing line between reality and fantasy.
Don't rely on other peoples banal experiences to fulfil your own sad little life, switch off the TV, go out and have fun!
Rob, UK

I reckon John Logie Baird must a bit like Alfred Nobel at this time. Both these clever people thought that their inventions might be used to improve life on this planet for humanity. Boy, did we ever make them look stupid!
Gary Chiles, New Zealand



I have got so sick of it that I now hardly watch TV



Jeremy, UK


I have to be thankful to reality TV as I have got so sick of it that I now hardly watch TV and have found more rewarding pastimes. I am sick of not just reality TV but also Police and Hospital dramas ( and even worse the reality Police/Hospital shows). It is bad enough to have to pay for TV without being force-fed the mindless pap that is passed off as 'popular' entertainment.
Jeremy, UK

It's strange how everyone hates the shows and says they don't watch them. The huge viewer rating figures that are published must all be telling porkies then.
Mark Corder, UK

You'd get more reality if - to paraphrase - you just switch off your tv set and go and do something less unreal instead.
Andrzej Wawrowski, Bristol, UK



Reality TV is he only escape we have from over-hyped "celebrities"



Patrick, Europe


Reality TV is the best thing on TV. Apart from Davina McCall, it is the only escape we have from over-hyped "celebrities" like Charlie Dimmock, Anne Robinson, and Ainsley Harriot. Who cares what these supposed arbiters of public taste think?
Patrick, Europe

The moment you put some frustrated celebrity wannabe in front of a camera you lose all concept of reality anyway. Yes, I'm bored with reality TV and to be honest I was fairly bored with it before the first show ever went out. If I want to see what it's like living with a bunch of self-centred prima donnas I'll go back to university and flatshare !!
Bill, UK

Survivor was made earlier this year and is therefore more 'manufactured' to what the produces 'think' we want. They're obviously wrong and maybe they should stick to making pop bands. The whole program seems dull and un-catching and has certainly failed to impress anyone I know.
Adam, Bristol, UK

Reality TV like Big Brother was mildly entertaining at the time, assuming you were minus a few brain cells in the first place. Like so many of these things the media then flog them to death with copycats and spin-offs.
Chris Dunford, England



Doesn't anybody enjoy these shows?



Dave, UK


Doesn't anybody enjoy these shows? It's just a different genre of program. You watch TV to escape, whether you are watching a film, a soap or something like this. Even if it isn't as 'real' as we are led to believe, it is interesting viewing. Everybody is taking this far too seriously !
Dave, UK

Unreality TV more like. The people who participate in these shows seem to have been pre-programmed to act in the most ridiculous way. Just more 'lowest common denominator' TV - Saturday night TV in particular has become so inane, I doubt if anyone would notice if the channels just put up test cards instead and took the night off.
Simon Guerrero, Essex, UK

"Reality" TV was a novelty and therefore interesting. However, a bandwagon of shows has appeared and the intertest for me has gone. These days, TV follows a perception of what the public wants, hence the overkill with TV chefs, gardeners, ancestor face modelling etc. This is usually bland. The best TV is when someone takes a risk and gives us something new, provocative and unexpected (e.g. certain plays, dramas, documentaries).
David Haig, Scotland

These shows debase the idea of trying to show "reality" on television. What could potentially be an interesting social experiment, is turned into a cynically contrived and salacious scramble for ratings.
David Hill, UK



Let's be clear on one thing. This is not reality.



Rob, UK


Let's be clear on one thing. This is not reality. The discretion of the editor and the general manipulation of the emotions of the viewer, combined with all the techniques employed in TV drama make the final result hard to distinguish from a soap opera.
Rob, UK

I confess to being the greatest aficionado of television, but it takes alot for me to tune on to reality TV. Take Big B(r)other, for instance, a hit across Europe as it became renowned for its scenes of pornographic obscenity & expletives. It gets viewers as it serves their lust for indecency, shall we say.
Eoghan , United Kingdom

What has winning 1,000,000 got to do with reality? BBC's Castaway was far more realistic for hardship without a prize- that's real life.
Forbes Cunningham, Netherlands



I may not have a very exciting life, but I do have one. I don't need to borrow any one else's



Cf, Canada


Oh please, spare us any more reality TV.I am proud to say that I haven't watched either of the Survivors.I may not have a very exciting life, but I do have one. I don't need to borrow any one else's. And how "real" is Survivor and all the other programmmes anyhow? How often do people get paid to insult people and do them down?(Other than Anne whatsit of Weakest Link fame....)Give me a good honest(?) escapist film that doesn't pretend to be anything else.
cf, Canada

Reality TV is simply a cheap way of making bad television for the masses
Dave Vernon, Oxford, UK

I don't watch any of these shows. They aren't reality TV, they're concepts put together for a bunch of big executives to rich off of. I find them boring and couldn't be bothered to sit in front of the TV for that nonsense.
Deb Sutfin, USA

What makes it 'reality'? I had a look at an early "Big Brother" out of curiosity but couldn't be bothered with it thereafter. Waste of broadcasting time & bandwidth.
p, UK



This is just a way for producers to avoid paying for actors and presenters



Mark B, UK


This is just a way for producers to avoid paying for actors and presenters. The whole format is so stale now that the only way for 'Survivor' to raise their viewing figures would be for a participant to be eaten by an anaconda. Even I would sit and watch that!
Mark B, UK

I think you can definitely have too much of a good thing. Docusoaps, DIY shows, TV Chefs and now so called Reality TV generally start out as original and entertaining viewing only to be killed by copycat production company's jumping on the bandwagon. The networks rely too heavily on regurgitating tired ideas again and again. As they say, familiarity breeds contempt.
Phil, UK

If these people on Survivor really had to fend for themselves, I doubt any of them would last five minutes. The real survivors in this world are the people who daily have to deal with poverty and hunger and abuse and depravation. They deserve a million bucks not these self serving greed heads who go on to further fame and fortune after the show for what? For being devious and deceitful.
Amanda, Seattle, Washington



It's total dumbing down of tv - cheap and easy to produce, they ship it out and we all tune in like morons



Fraser, UK


Yes - they bore me to tears - basically they are for wannabes who are no bodies. Look at big brother - where are they all now? Where's Craigs multi-platinum selling albums? It's total dumbing down of tv - cheap and easy to produce, they ship it out and we all tune in like morons. Can you honestly say that someone would behave naturally when a camera is shoved in their face? Nope they don't. Pants.
Fraser, Essex, England




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See also:

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