There's nothing real about "reality" TV these days. Which is why we should just let Supernanny loose on The Family and see what happensby Peter Bazalgette / November 23, 2008 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2008 issue of Prospect Magazine
Now that ten year olds can shoot, edit and distribute videos on YouTube from their own bedrooms, the makers of television programmes are confronted by extremely savvy viewers. They know all the editing tricks and have a shrewd understanding of how television is heavily manipulated to produce entertainment. There has been a shift of power from programme makers to the audience.
At the same time, intense, multi-channel competition has meant that “factual” programmes have become more and more heavily formatted in order to guarantee a strong narrative with a resolution. Instead of shooting a documentary about marital relationships, we make Wife Swap. Instead of following new entrants into an industry, we set up The Apprentice. This is why the latest Channel 4 offering, The Family, is interesting. The producers have wired up the Hughes family home in Canterbury with cameras for 100 days. The idea is that they will simply follow whatever happens. It’s an attempt by the channel, sometimes derided for the likes of Big Brother, to regain a certain lost innocence. But is it possible to turn back the clock? And is The Family, in any sense, innocent?