The Future of Reality TV

Channel 4 have announced that they’re giving up with Big Brother after the next series — although a dedicated web show for 2011 would be my guess — they’ve tried fiddling with the format, bunging more and more people in, making more and more stuff happen. They’ve cut the “my god, who wants to watch them sleep” live stream — either on the assumption that no-one wants to watch a TV programme where not much goes on, or because of the sheer cost of keeping it legal.

But I’ve a theory that it was the “not much happens” “dip in and out” long arching narrative thing that was what got people interested in the first place — much like how Twitter works (unless you’re obsessed), or much like how the Australian soaps were a revelation in low-impact TV. I think that by making it too hard to watch they killed the format.

Reality TV, when you define it as pointing a camera at people having real emotions, is much broader than Big Brother — and most of it is edited to be as action packed as possible. It’s tiring, only the committed can keep it up. Live football is reality TV, although the Olympics – three weeks of lots of coverage, unknowns and new stories evolving is more like what we’ve come to know as staples of the genre.

I’m not of the opinion that “reality TV” is dead, but I think people want two different things; either the slow “nothing much happens” – but it happens for a long time — or the tight visceral shared experience (the way the big X-Factor finals, or even important elections do).

Reality TV commissioners — let’s face it Channel 4 in this instance, they’ve got the money — you’ll want more “event TV” that has that endurance aspect. So here’s my pitch — you want something like live uninterupted coverage of Gimpo’s 25 Hour M25 Spin or this.

Broing Broing?

The danger in hanging out with fun, creative, people who you don’t necessarily have anything in common with is that you come away with more ideas, and less time to “do” them in. Such is life, and such is what happens to me when I go to a Birmingham Bloggers meeting (I don’t hold with the social-media name thing, podcasting is audio-blogging, flickr-ing, photo-blogging, twittering, micro-blogging, Facebook-usage, life-blogging – blogging is good enough for me) – like last night.

Yesterdays was the second meeting, still defiantly agenda-less, but now with added-too-many-people-to-hold-one-conversation-with-ness. I met Danny Smith , Antonio Roberts, Dominic Fisher, Steve Gerrard, for the first time, OrangeJon, Kevin, Si Hammond, again,  first time meets in the flesh with Mark Steadman (who I’ve been recording bits of podcast for), Joanna Geary, Donarto Esposito, second time in the same day (we’d been at a launch event) for Nick and Pete,  I never seem to be able to get away from Stef these days and there were others I didn’t get a chance to chat to (the man behind D’log at the very least).

I spent a good twenty minutes trying to persuade Alex Hughes to podcast his cartooning – not with commentary, or visuals, just the sound of the pen scratching, the rubber rubbing, and him swearing when he made a mistake. I think it would be good.

I also decided exactly what needs to happen with my “what did that pub used to be called” web-app (which I doubt will ever get done – if you want to do it, it’s a wiki, with a geo-locatory/map interface and Apple ‘tim emachine’-style flow-back, and beer) and the name –

Despite having had almost no sleep over the past week, I really enjoyed myself and Jules  (who was initially a bit scared of it) did too. I found it more fun than the first meeting, but maybe less “useful” – do these things have to be useful? Should we have _horror_ and agenda? Or should we have a ‘turn’, or a ‘show and tell’ spot? Or even a quick (online obviously) discussion beforehand so we could all be thinking about the same topic?

It re-enforced my belief that Birmingham has a huge variety of writing/blogging/photo/drawing/nonsense-spouting talent– anyone fancy a little side project? The world is crying out for a Brum-centred (but not centric) BoingBoing – the UK knows what’s coolest and Brum knows that it aint all in London…