Thursday 3 January 2008

We were ruined by reality TV: The humiliated families who dreamed they would be stars

By the way, if anyone here is in reality television, kill yourself. Thank you, thank you. Just a little thought. I'm just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day they'll take root. I don't know. You try. You do what you can. Kill yourselves. Seriously though, if you are, do. No really, there's no rationalisation for what you do, and you are Satan's little helpers, OK? Kill yourselves, seriously. You're the ruiner of all things good. Seriously, no, this is not a joke. 'There's gonna be a joke coming...' There's no fucking joke coming, you are Satan's spawn, filling the world with bile and garbage, you are fucked and you are fucking us, kill yourselves, it's the only way to save your fucking soul. - The Ghost of Bill Hicks

The producer of the reality TV show looked Claire Molyneux squarely in the eye. "Claire," she said, sharply. "Just what does it take to break you?"

Forty-year-old Claire, a council officer from Sheffield, looked back blankly, blinking with astonishment.

For the past week, Claire's home had become a television studio, with wires trailing through the rooms, cameras set up everywhere and a huge caravan parked outside the house, to her neighbours' amazement.

Claire had, in her innocence, signed up to appear in an ITV programme called Take My Mother-In-Law.

"It was to be my 15 minutes of fame," she says. "I signed up in a fit of madness, and I have regretted it ever since." And she is not alone.

The number of reality TV shows in the UK has almost doubled over the past two years. Each week, it seems a new reality show appears on our screens, usually with an ever more bizarre format.

But as Claire and many others have found, there can be a downside to having 15 minutes of fame.

Full story...