‘ a catch-all category that includes a wide range of television programmes about real people. Sometimes called popular factual television, reality TV is located in border territories, between information and entertainment, documentary and drama.’
programming that is unscripted and follows actual ‘real life’ events as they unfold, usually involving members of the public or groups of celebrities. ( http://www.skillset.org )
the television genre where situations are created by the show’s producers, but the show itself is unscripted. Cameras capture the participants’ natural reactions and responses to the situations created, which are then edited as a programme or series.
The oldest variation: classic shows that combine public information messages to the public on crime, health, etc with real life experts and examples, and reconstructions of events or issues. Usually use on-camera presenter, celeb or specialist for added authority.
999: tips to the public about how to save lives, alongside reconstructions of crises where people are saved by the emergency services. Click for 999
Crimewatch: reconstructions of crimes with particular instructional message to the public , to get involved and try to support police in reporting and solving crime.
The Docusoap a hybrid of observational documentary and soap opera
Vets in Practice: narratives around vets, suffering pets, and their owners and the drama, highs and lows of the daily life of a veterinary practice.
Traffic Cops: motorway stories, seen from the point of view of the daily work of traffic police. Click for Traffic Cops
The Family : 28-camera set-up records the minutiae of everyday family life over 8 months. Massively edited into a highly constructed narrative. Series 1 observational with voiceover, focusing on small moments of family conflict set entirely within the home; Series 2 incorporates talking heads, interview and more continuing story strands, with external footage. Click for The Family (clip 1) ; Click for The Family (clip 2) .
Remodelling of homes, gardens, bodies etc for ‘ordinary’ people, e.g: Bargain Hunt , Cash in the Attic , 60-minute Makeover . Features include:
observational (usually) with expert gurus and a ‘journey’
a narrative consisting of a problem; a solution process; a final resolution
often, but not always, a final ‘transformation’ moment, or a surprise.
You Are What You Eat or Freaky Eaters , where experts try to make a life-changing difference for real people by encouraging us to eat healthier types of food, or overcome problems or fears: Click for Freaky Eaters
Gok’s Fashion Fix , Ten Years Younger , What Not to Wear where real people with problems of body image, style or confidence are exposed onscreen, remodelled by experts, re-invented as better people, and ‘premiered’ to the world.
A ‘people experiment’ where a situation is set up and observed, e.g. Wife Swap – conflicting class values and life-styles within the home – exploring parenting, social relationships, domestic organisation, gender roles, work, etc. Click for Wife Swap
Blood Sweat and T-shirts – assumptions of affluent Western teens challenged through experience of harsh lives of other cultures. Click for Blood Sweat & T-Shirts
Secret Millionaire – a social experiment with positive outcomes. Click for Secret Millionaire
The Choir – encouraging participation; teaching boys to enjoy singing; uniting divided communities; mending ‘Broken Britain’ through song.