Edinburgh Television Festival: 30 more real life soaps in pipeline

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ITV IS PLANNING to make another 30 documentary soap operas this year, it was revealed yesterday as a session at the Edinburgh Television Festival cast light on how more and more ordinary people are having their lives changed by television celebrity.

A leading documentary soap maker admitted that directors "cast" their fly-on-the-wall programmes with people who have star quality.

The seminar was attended by Jeremy Spake, the Aeroflot attendant made famous by the BBC's Airport series, and Trude Mostue of the Vets In Practice series. Delegates heard how these stars of real-life television had gone on to pursue new careers after their brush with fame.

The seminar was also supposed to have heard from Emma Bundy, a counter girl from the series Lakesiders, but she could not attend because she is currently recording a single for EMI Records.

Mr Sprake, who has now appeared in two series of Airport still works for Aeroflot, but he has become such a hit in the show that the BBC commissioned him to write a book.

Joe Hoolihan, maker of Airline, the best-watched series so far, said that the programmes are based more on character than on the situations film crews find: "It is commonly accepted that we use the phrase "casting". We are looking for people who have a way of expressing themselves well and explaining things on camera."

The session was attended by Keith Cooper, the former head of press at the Royal Opera House, made famous for his treatment of staff in The House.

He left his job earlier this year and blames the programme: "I was known as Vlad the Impaler after the series. The cameras made me look like a villain and to seem without credibility and character. That has remained with me both personally and professionally."