Sunday 29 August 2010

Big Brother's finished, now get ready for Seven Days.

I've been reading about a new reality TV programme starting on Channel Four at the end of September called Seven Days.

The show will follow the lives of up to 30 people from different backgrounds who live and work in Notting Hill, West London.

The producers have chosen Notting Hill, as it's known internationally, and has a diverse range of people and where you can find extreme wealth and poverty existing next to each other.

The show will be filmed along the lines of a conventional fly on the wall documentary, but the difference with Seven Days is that it will be edited at the same speed as most reality tv programmes, so that you see characters reacting to current events.

One area that the show is looking to be a bit different is that it hopes to have more direct viewer interaction. Viewers will have the chance to make suggestions to characters on what choices they should make in certain aspects of their lives.

For example, if a character was deciding whether to go on a date with someone. Viewers would be able to make their feelings known on what the character should do.

Now that I've heard about it I'm definitely going to watch the first couple of episodes and see how it all works. You know it's the sort of programme that people are going to be talking about when it starts.

I've always watched a number of reality TV shows and it's been interesting to see how the format has evolved over the years.

After years of loving Big Brother, even I eventually became bored of it and gave up about two years ago. With a hole in my reality tv schedule, I've now progressed onto American shows like The Hills and The City.

It took me a long time to get into these two shows, but then I slowly started getting hooked without even realising it.

They're reality TV shows but you've got real life people essentially playing themselves in their own real life Soap Opera.

Although The Hills was meant to be a fly on wall show looking at the lives of a group of 20 somethings living in Los Angeles, Wikipedia's synopsis of the show, said that many story lines were 'loosely scripted'.

What this really means is that most of what you watched wasn't 'reality' but actually characters and scenes being edited and manipulated to create never ending tensions, conflict an evolving story lines.

I don't expect Seven Days to follow the format of The Hills, but being a little sceptical you have to ask how real will this new show be?

It all depends on how hands on, or hands off producers want to be in managing the storylines of the characters involved.

With a lot of these reality TV shows, producers always start off with these intentions of showing 'reality' or letting the audience decide on particular outcomes, but you know that over a period of time they find it almost impossible not to start interfering with the format to keep viewers interested?

In soaps it usually means giving characters conflicts, tensions and dilemmas to deal with and overcome. I suppose that's what most people face in everyday life, but not everyone's issues and conflicts make interesting telly. I know mine don't!

Is this new show going to start manipulating characters and scenarios to keep viewers interested?

Secondly, you have the characters themselves. You may start off as just a normal person in these shows. But when your life starts to become a soap opera for others to watch, you yourself become somebody else, a reality tv star. You have a public persona. Is your life real life, or a storyline in a tv show?

Why have the people starring in the show put themselves forward. Do they want to become stars? Or promote themselves and lives? This is what I'm interested in finding out.

The Executive producer of Seven Days has said he was partly inspired by social networking sites like Facebook. I've spoken about Facebook before and how it encourages more and more people to live their private lives in the public domain.

I suppose a show like Seven Days is a logical extension of this. More people seem to get a greater sense of value in themselves if they know their everyday life has a ready made audience ready to consume every little detail.

As the programme hasn't started yet, I'll have to reserve my judgement on the characters until I see them. Then I can find out what's motivated them to appear in the show.

The first episode of Seven Days can be seen on 22 September.

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