Stand by for Taffy Shore
'The Valleys' takes the scripted reality TV concept to Wales – and the natives are up in arms
The traditional Welsh song famously promises to "keep a welcome in the hillside", but the makers of a controversial new TV series are finding the welcome mats have all been taken indoors.
Broadcasters want to emulate the success of Geordie Shore, MTV UK's highest-ever rated series, which spun off the car-crash TV success of the US original, Jersey Shore. The programme makers are hoping for similar success with the new series, set in South Wales. But even though The Valleys has not aired yet, critics from the Rhondda to Westminster have united to slate it as "patronising".
To be broadcast by the channel this summer, The Valleys features a group of young people "plucked from the tranquillity of Valley life", says MTV UK. Over a six-week period they will be "given the opportunity to leave their hamlets and change their lives in the city of Cardiff", providing viewers with some reality entertainment at the same time.
But the Rhondda MP Chris Bryant described the show as "hideously patronising". He said: "I can just imagine some bigwig in a glass office somewhere in Canary Wharf coming up with this great idea to make money out of poor people. I am sure it won't represent the Rhondda as most people live there know it."
Brothers Alex and James Bevan, 26 and 28, from the Rhondda, agree. Leading a protest to stop MTV presenting a "biased" view of the area, they are working on a campaign to offer a "truer picture" of life in the Valleys. James Bevan, a charity worker, said: "Born and raised in the Rhondda, I want the area to get a higher profile and recognition. But when we found out MTV was planning on rolling out its next unscripted – but heavily edited – 'reality' TV show in the Valleys, my friends and I winced. We won't allow MTV to come to the Valleys and promote a distorted, patronising view of the area – as many people in Newcastle felt they did with Geordie Shore.
MTV UK said the new "without apology series" would no doubt be controversial. It confirmed that production had begun but was unable to say exactly when it would air. MTV UK hopes the show will be "irreverent and funny as well as warm, authentic, familiar and genuine", a spokeswoman said.
THE ONLY WAY IS ESSEX
Simply referred to as Towie, ITV2's "structured reality" show is a miasma of fake tans and stilettos and won a Bafta. While it was reported that its cast was not paid for the first series, and only £80 a day for the later ones, original star Amy Childs has been catapulted into the limelight.
E4's show ran for eight episodes last year, before it was cancelled because of lack of interest. Revolving around "football, fierce fashion and WAG style", it followed eight Liverpudlians "determined to show the UK just what they're all about". Critics dismissed the cast as "the most depressing bunch of wannabes".
Critics described it as a "gaudy kaleidoscope of six-packs, fights, simulated fellatio and exposed breasts". Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah said it was "bordering on the pornographic". However, hotels have reported a surge of interest.
The fly-on-the-wall documentary series shocked viewers when it was on BBC Scotland in 2010. The series following families on a Scottish estate showed drug-taking, alcoholism and violence, and was later aired on BBC1.
Made in Chelsea
"In Chelsea the truth is more fabulous than fiction. This is our life," said one of the Made in Chelsea cast members, Caggie, as the show debuted last year. With blue-blood family names and well-connected stars, it became the most tweeted-about show on Channel 4 last year. Predictably, a second series was commissioned.
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