So real, it's just unreal

You've dumped worms on contestants' faces, so what's next? You make them eat horse entrails - and worse. Ian Burrell reports from Montreux

Nigella, Jamie - most certainly Delia - would turn their noses up, but the latest round of reality-TV stars don't have that option. It's dinner-time, the cameras are rolling and you've got to eat what you are given. Which, in the case of Fear Factor, from the American network NBC, is a plate of horse entrails - or, if you are even more unlucky, a pig's rectum.

Nigella, Jamie - most certainly Delia - would turn their noses up, but the latest round of reality-TV stars don't have that option. It's dinner-time, the cameras are rolling and you've got to eat what you are given. Which, in the case of Fear Factor, from the American network NBC, is a plate of horse entrails - or, if you are even more unlucky, a pig's rectum.

So-called "reality TV" - what does a rectum supper have to do with reality? - is moving into new territory, just as the genre had appeared to win some respectability. Last week, it was given its own award category at the Rose d'Or television festival in Montreux.

Among the nominees for the Montreux award was Russian Wonder, a show made by a Moscow production company which created a bogus company and filmed people entirely without their knowledge as they attended their offices.

Another production being offered to buyers at Montreux was made by Funny-Films Oy, a Finnish company, and entitled Strip Poker. This is "a relaxed late-night peep show for young viewers," the production company declared, "where four contestants [aged 18 and over] play the familiar poker game for five pieces of garment."

It is, however, over in America that the most extreme reality programmes are being made. The ABC network is promising The Will, where relatives compete in a winner-takes-all battle for the contents of granddad's estate. The same network is behind Extreme Makeover, encouraging a group of plastic surgery devotees to battle each other to win nose jobs and breast enhancements.

It might be thought that advertisers would be reluctant to see their upbeat 30-second messages shown in between shots of people eating horse entrails, but the commercial broadcasters say they are not so squeamish. According to a spokesman for Sky TV, which broadcasts Fear Factor in Britain, clients are keen to be seen there - 40 per cent of its viewers are ABC1s, and more than 60 per cent are under 35. "Most advertisers would swim through a pile of maggots themselves to get to the kind of young, upmarket audiences that programmes like Fear Factor deliver," he says.

Jonathan Glazier, formerly the editor of BBC Light Entertainment and now the head of production and development for the UK arm of Rupert Murdoch's Fox network, says the growth in American reality shows in the past year has been remarkable. "They're developing a plethora of reality formats, hundreds of them, and sending them around the world."

Glazier has responsibility for introducing Fox products to Europe and alerting his US colleagues to eye-catching British formats. He says there is little difference between contestants being forced to eat horse innards on American programmes and "British" maggots being dropped on to the face of Danniella Westbrook - a stunt that attracted nine million viewers to I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!. "There is an intellectual hypocrisy that creeps in," Glazier says. "The thought is quite abhorrent, but people watch it."

So will we see more extreme entertainment here? Glazier says that broadcasters in Britain are well aware of their "duty of care" to viewers. "Are we going to see a Rollerball on the television in five years' time? Are we going to see public executions? The obvious answer to that is 'No'," he says. "Please God, let's hope not."

News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
news

As anti-Semitic attacks rise, Grant Feller re-evaluates his identity

News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
News
people
News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Life and Style
fashionThe Secret Angels all take home huge sums - but who earns the most?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission, 1st yr OTE £30-£40k : SThree:...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel your sales role is l...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Account Director / AD

£Competitive + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Director with a ba...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?