i Editor's Letter: We get the telly we deserve


Click to follow
The Independent Online


The people of Harpurhey in Manchester are "mad as hell and not going to take it any more". Some 200 of them held a heated meeting to protest against their representation in the BBC 3 documentary series, People Like Us. They want to get it axed.

According to the Manchester Evening News "residents watched in horror as the series focused on negative stereotypes of the area including alcohol abuse, high crime rates and a supposed benefits culture".

Well, no s***, Sherlock.

People Like Us purports to be "real life" – unlike, say, Shameless. But let's be blunt, it's "real life" seen through the filter of TV executives' agendas. They are scarcely likely to focus on voluntary work, apprenticeships and the Neighbourhood Watch.

I'm a scratched record on this, having argued about such shows countless times with many eye-rolling teens. People Like Us, Geordie Shore, Magaluf, 16 and Pregnant, Kavos and the grand-daddy, Big Brother, are all opportunities to exploit and sneer at the working (or not) class.

Throw in The Undateables and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, and we're back in the era of the Victorian freakshow. Makers of these shows will never admit it, but they are horribly cynical, luring viewers in for the "shock" or "weird" factor. That also goes for early rounds in The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent.

We do get the telly we deserve. Millions watch these shows. They each got a second series, some more. The only way to really stop the exploitation is to stop watching them. And to say no to those reality-TV producers.