Tag Archives: tv

Played in Chelsea

How real is reality TV? Dom Kureen takes a look at how the lines have become blurred since Endemol brought Big Brother kicking and screaming to UK screens at the turn of the Millenium.

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‘Nasty’ Nick Bateman and a hastily assembled jury perched themselves around a table in the Big Brother  house late in the summer of 2000 (YouTube link here.)

The conniving housemate’s best laid plans and schemes had finally unravelled on day 35 of the series, when chief bloodhound (and eventual winner) Craig Phillips tracked the scent that had caused millions of viewers to jab their television screens and scream vicious curse words into thin air for more than a month.

At the time it seemed to matter, with loveable Scouser Craig the perfect foil for dastardly crater-faced villain Nick.

The sense of injustice was raw and authentic, the fact that until then those living at close quarters were unable to recognise the deviant’s mischievous antics only added to the ongoing nationwide exasperation. Tabloids stirred the pot, calling for Bateman to be deported and naming him ‘the most hated man in Britain.’

THE MOST HATED MAN IN BRITAIN!!!

Not a convicted paedophile, a rapist, a murderer, a psychotic vigilante selling Crack-Cocaine to school children – The most hated man in Britain according to the dirt sheets was a 32 year-old dimwit who’d snuck a pen and a few scraps of paper past Channel Four security.

Josie, winner of BB11, she didn't look like this in the house.
Josie, winner of BB11, she didn’t look like this in the house.

Looking at it now, Nick’s indiscretions wouldn’t even generate a ripple among the needy, ravenous whoring of his reality show contemporaries, who play to cameras like neglected toddlers seeking the recognition of strangers.

What was once a genre grounded in the factual has evolved into a scripted sermon of soap opera rhetoric, aimed at advertising products and getting Twitter trends by promoting the interaction of idiots.

Modification became a necessity, people growing weary of 24-hour feeds dominated by snoozing, mastication and mundane jibber-jabber.

Even the juicy bits were rendered irrelevant by time-delay and on the spot editing, ensuring they were reserved as flesh for the next highlight reel.

Success inevitably spawns imitation. Just as Big Brother and The Real World blazed a trail for Celebrity Love Island and I’m A Celebrity, so The Osbournes unlocked the door for the curiously watchable Hogan Knows Best and worthless What Katie Did Next, the latter of which consisted almost exclusively of the obscenely-norked Katie Price berating her humbled hubby, Peter Andre, whose subdued emasculation led to universal sympathy and an even worse spin-off.

Katie Price: Vacuous TV show bombed after initially promising ratings.
Katie Price: Vacuous TV show bombed after initially promising ratings.

It came full circle at the end of the ‘noughties’, with the rise of exclusively scripted (un)reality TV, where scenes are set up solely for the satiation of a wide-eyed audience.

This all brings us nicely to Made In Chelsea; undoubtedly entertaining in a perverse, barely credible way. A make believe universe revolving around equal parts bitching, fucking, cocktails and cock tales.

The Hello magazine of the small screen, Spencer Matthews and co. proudly parade around South West London, their tail feathers gleaming, with not a hint of tangible hardship or hair out of place within the confines of a painstakingly conceived goldfish bowl.

The appeal lies in the voyeuristic observation of the jet-set lifestyles enjoyed by a gaggle of coiffured rich kids, playing with daddy and mummy’s fortunes, heirs to corporations who share body fluids and Jacuzzis in a state of perpetual down time.

It’s fun, but reality?? The veneers that adorn the collective cast’s faces are less phoney than the narratives that play out, act by act, for the consumption of long distance rubberneckers.

Even so, SW3’s brand of entertainment is indisputably several notches above the brainless ‘Real Housewives of…’ franchise and retains a modicum of value courtesy of engaging caricatures and slick presentation.

The continued saturation of the reality genre necessitates an amplification of salacious, unfeasible concepts to provide shock value, the lifeblood of these productions for over a decade now.

A childish public school graduate scribbling names onto scrunched up A5 crescents torn from a notepad no longer gratifies the lust of devotees, numbed by years of smut, hyperbole and recurring adaptations of good Vs evil.

Hulk Hogan: A good guy in WWF, bad guy in WCW... An entertaining wally in 'Hogan Knows Best.'
Hulk Hogan: A good guy in WWF, bad guy in WCW… An entertaining wally in ‘Hogan Knows Best.’

In 2016 reality TV is a three dimensional comic book, ideal for pickling the psyche and providing aesthetically captivating colour schemes. For Gotham, Keystone and Metropolis read Chelsea, Essex and, until recently, the Jersey shore.

How much further can the envelope be nudged? Only time will tell. For the next clutch of fame-hungry wannabes and gluttonous fans nothing seems taboo.

Prepare not to be shocked… in the most shocking way possible.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me.
I meditate and wash daily when possible.

20 Best TV Spin-Offs Ever: Pt.1 (20th-11th)

With last year’s UK première of Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul, receiving huge plaudits, Kureen thought the time was apt to share our 20 best and worst spin-offs to reach the small screen not including Saul’s antics. In part one Dom Kureen reveals positions 20 to 11. 

Stephen Colbert

*Years of broadcast and original series in parenthesis.

20. Muppet Babies (1984-91, The Muppets)

The 1980’s was a decade chock-full of cartoons with good intentions. The Muppet Babies revolved around the power of imagination, and gave kids (and possibly morally stunted adults) some ethical food for thought meshed with just enough entertainment to avoid being preachy.

19. Kenan and Kel (1996-2000, All That)

“Who loves orange soda…”
With catchphrases like the above, Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell were destined to captivate audiences from the get-go. What on paper looked naff was performed with gusto by the duo, providing the pinnacle of late 1990’s teenage satire during their pomp – With early 21st Century internet rumours of Kenan’s demise proving premature.

18. Going Straight (1978, Porridge)

Going Straight followed former jailbird Norman Stanley Fletcher as he attempted to adapt to life on the ‘outside’. Despite relying excessively on a so-so support cast, and not coming close to emulating its predecessor Porridge, Ronnie Barker was able to provide fitting closure for fans of the protagonist, while sporadically dropping memorable one-liners along the way.

17. Torchwood (2006-10, Doctor Who)

A year after Russell T Davies revived Doctor Who, he created this spin-off for the character ‘Captain Jack Harkness’ (John Barrowman), an immortal time-travelling former con man. A distinctively Welsh twist on the original saw Captain Jack heading up the Cardiff branch of the Torchwood institute, which deals with incidents involving aliens… And the title is an anagram of ‘Doctor Who’, those smarty clever bastards!

16. Xena Warrior Princess (1995-2001, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys)

Coming at a time when ‘girl power’ was in full force, Xena started life on the dark side, before eventually realising the error of her ways and turning face. With a strong, independent and alluring swagger, the series made up for some woeful scripts with enough action, titillation and engaging plot arcs to maintain it during a six-year run.

15. Angel (1999-2004, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

The show about a guilt-ridden vampire with a human soul ran for five seasons and was a successful spin-off of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. David Boreanaz’s Angel and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy seemed to be stake-cross’d lovers, until Angel left to start his own series at the end of season three.

14. Mork and Mindy (1978-82, Happy Days)

This popular sitcom was borne out of a dream had by Happy Days’ Richie Cunningham in which alien Mork (played by an unknown Robin Williams) tried to take Richie back to his home planet of Ork. Series producer Garry Marshall was so impressed by Williams’s comic ability that he gave him his own series about an alien who comes to Earth to study human behaviour and moves in with a woman he meets.

13. The Colbert Report (2005-14, The Daily Show)

Political satirist Stephen Tyrone Colbert took on cable-news pundits in this show’s decade long run, which centred around his essential rightness about the issues of the day. Colbert portrayed a caricature of the conservative political pundits often seen on channels such as Fox News. In addition, the show was known for coming up with new words that enter the lexicon, most notably “truthiness.”

12. Summer Heights High (2007, We Can Be Heroes)

Chris Lilley nailed it with this ‘mockumentary’ based within the confines of the fictional Summer Heights high-school based in Sydney. The Australian comedian expertly portrayed all three of the main characters, allowing viewers an occasional window for empathy during the show’s otherwise relentless hilarity. 

11. Daria (1997-2001,  Beavis and Butthead)

Under rated cartoon following acutely perceptive, acerbic tongued teenager Daria Morgendorffer. Her self-esteem teacher can’t even remember her name, not that low self-esteem is a problem for Daria, who in one memorable exchange with her family explains that “I don’t have low self-esteem, it’s a mistake… I have low esteem for everyone else.”

Tune in again tomorrow for our top 10 spin-offs of all time, let us know what you think deserves the number one spot, and if you’re feeling kind please like and share the Kureen Facebook page x

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me.
I meditate and wash daily when possible.