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George Galloway’s cat cosplay! David’s dead! The age of shocking, sublime celebrity reality TV is over
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George Galloway’s cat cosplay! David’s dead! The age of shocking, sublime celebrity reality TV is over


The hosts AJ Odudu and Will Best excitedly informed us that it is the most well-known house in Britain, repeatedly using a slightly demanding tone, as they stood outside the entrance of Big Brother’s residence, preparing to greet a fresh group of well-known participants. This marks the return of Celebrity Big Brother for the first time since 2018, when the show was claimed by soap actor Ryan Thomas on Channel 5. This time, ITV’s revival includes “celebrities” such as Princess Diana’s uncle Gary Goldsmith, successful Dragons’ Den participant Levi Roots, former This Morning host Fern Britton, and former X Factor judge Louis Walsh.

On Monday evening’s initial broadcast, my social media timeline was flooded with criticisms about the lack of high-profile celebrities in the lineup. The most recognizable name is Sharon Osbourne, who is married to a notable musician and is considered one of the pioneers of reality television. However, she will only be a temporary resident for one week, in her own luxurious room. This suggests that ITV’s budget may not have allowed for a longer stay.

The trend of “celebrity” reality shows in the UK is losing its popularity quickly. One show, I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!, which was once a top-rated program on ITV, saw a decline in viewership during its December series. The winner of the show was Sam Thompson, a well-known reality star turned presenter who has been on numerous “celebrity” shows, including Celebs Go Dating, Celebrity Ghost Hunt, Celebrity SAS, and Celebrity Big Brother. Recent seasons of the show have been embroiled in controversy due to the appearances of Nigel Farage and Matt Hancock, leading some to accuse ITV of trying to improve their public image through the show.

Love Island’s newest installment was a special season that brought back previous contestants who have since become influential celebrities thanks to their previous appearance on the show. However, the show’s ratings were less than stellar with only 1 million viewers tuning in for its finale. This was a major decrease from 2019, when the finale brought in 6 million viewers. Love Island originally gained popularity for its departure from the usual drunken drama we were used to seeing. However, the show’s heavy focus on sponsored content is now seen as a quick path to influencer fame, and as a result, the show has suffered in viewership.

In the United Kingdom, there is a growing preference for TV shows featuring “ordinary” individuals. Last year, ITV’s non-celebrity version of Big Brother was a hit and seemed to follow the original concept of the show as a social experiment. Similarly, the UK version of The Traitors concluded a highly successful season in January, with standout contestants such as the notorious Paul Gorton and the surprising mother-son duo Diane and Ross Carson, attracting an audience of 8 million for the thrilling finale. Additionally, Netflix’s Squid Game: The Challenge featured 456 “everyday” people from around the world competing for a record-breaking cash prize of $4.56 million, making it the most-watched show on the platform.

Unscripted series featuring regular people have become more popular than those featuring celebrities, as they are able to attract viewers who typically don’t watch reality TV. Even those who wouldn’t consider themselves fans of the genre are drawn to shows like The Traitors, which feels more like a social experiment rather than a highly produced competition. The same applies to Race Across the World, a BBC show where teams compete to reach various locations without taking a plane. As viewers, we become invested in their journey as they travel by bus and battle exhaustion. Despite being classified as a reality show, it has a more educational and personal feel.

The United States is still seeing success with celebrity shows, such as the popular reality competition show called “The Traitors US.” This show features a full cast of reality stars from popular franchises like Real Housewives and Survivor. It’s possible that economic factors in the UK play a role in our fascination with unknown individuals. Reality shows seem more innocent before they become a means to fame, as seen in early seasons of shows like Great British Bake Off, Love Island, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and even the original Big Brother in 2000. In the midst of a recession and rising cost of living, perhaps we long for a connection with people who feel relatable.

The initial installment of ITV’s Celebrity Big Brother seems to be a hit with audiences. It debuted to a commendable 2.8 million viewers, surpassing the last season on Channel 5. Early on, Louis Walsh appears to be the potential antagonist. However, I can’t shake the feeling that the show has become overly polished. For instance, Love Island victor Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu appeared on both Dancing on Ice and the most recent season of The Traitors US prior to entering the CBB house on Monday evening. Currently, she is considered a top contender for the win.

This week, George Galloway was inducted into parliament after winning the byelection. It brought back memories of his comical appearance on series four of CBB in 2006, where he dressed up as a cat in a tight-fitting catsuit and pretended to drink milk from Rula Lenska’s hands. Do you also recall Angie Bowie’s appearance on the show after the death of her ex-husband, David Bowie, in 2016? This led to a major misunderstanding and the famous quote: “David’s dead!” Nowadays, “celebrity” shows lack the same level of chaos or desperation, as they are filled with the same professional reality stars all vying to promote teeth-whitening strips on Instagram.

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The main factor in the success of reality TV is the casting director. The personalities portrayed on these shows and our individual connections with them determine the outcome. While it is still early, there are no particularly unexpected or rebellious cast members in the current CBB lineup, with the exception of “Mrs O” who will not be staying for the entire run. (One can only speculate on the whereabouts of Captain Tom’s daughter; perhaps she was preoccupied with tending to her unauthorized spa.) Only time will tell, and I’ll still be tuning in, but like many other “celebrity” reality shows, it’s starting to feel too formulaic and predictable to truly deliver exceptional TV.

Source: theguardian.com