Ask the class what they think makes a good reality TV show:
Help students to compile a set of attributes that they feel distinguishes the best of the reality TV shows from the others.
- When there's a camera and a crew filming, does this change how people behave?
- What do you think makes reality TV shows successful?
- What are the ethical issues of having a camera following people around constantly?
- What do you think the next generation of reality TV shows might be like?
Using the attributes that the class agrees determine a good reality TV show, students will create their own scenarios for a new reality-based TV show.
When coming up with their ideas, students should keep these questions in mind:
- Where will your show take place?
- What types of people will be on it?
- What will your show be called?
- During what time of day or night do you suggest this show to be broadcast?
- For how many days, weeks, or months should the show last?
- What is the basic idea or storyline for your programme?
- What makes this show different from those that are currently on the air?
Divide the class into groups and get them to agree on the best personality traits and characteristics for a Big Brother contestant.
These prompts may be useful:
Once the groups have finished their list, they could either give each characteristic a rating out of 10, or rank them in order of importance.
- Physical attractiveness
- Physical strength
- Sense of humour
- Good listener
- Good talker
- Likes company
- Good at cooking
- Good leader
Gather the class' lists together and look for similarities and differences. Ask the groups to explain any differences.
Recap on the main teaching points and students share their reality TV show ideas with the class.
The rest of the class should then imagine that they are TV critics reviewing each new show that has been created.
Students should provide both positive and negative opinions, identifying what about it will draw viewers to it, and what types of things might turn some people off.
- Broadcaster and psychologist Oliver James has spoken to a number of those who had taken part in reality TV shows and he felt they were not aware of the impact their participation would have on their lives.
- Dr James's comments were backed up by TV presenter and columnist Vanessa Feltz, who separately accused the makers of celebrity Big Brother of making her look like "Jack Nicholson out of the Shining".
- Channel 4's Big Brother does use psychologists to help choose suitable contestants and also offer "aftercare" when the show has finished.
- BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey has agreed that many participants did not realise the impact of what they say on camera when it was screened on TV.
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