Nipple-piercing, fat fiancés ... German reality TV delights the public but outrages the politicians

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The Independent Online

German television was urged to stamp out "TV voyeurism" yesterday after a young woman on Big Brother was shown having her nipple pierced without anaesthetic, and another station announced plans for a reality show entitled My Big Fat Embarrassing Fiancé, with a €500,000 (£340,000) prize for participants.

German television was urged to stamp out "TV voyeurism" yesterday after a young woman on Big Brother was shown having her nipple pierced without anaesthetic, and another station announced plans for a reality show entitled My Big Fat Embarrassing Fiancé, with a €500,000 (£340,000) prize for participants.

Politicians from opposing parties sharply criticised the private station RTL2 for allowing Daniella, a participant in the prime-time programme on Thursday night, to be shown crying in pain as a man pulled at her nipple with pliers then pierced it with a steel needle, spurting blood across the television set. Last night, a rebroadcast of the show attracted two million viewers.

"This is human suffering and nothing short of torture," Andras Scheuer of Germany's conservative Christian Demo-crats said. "It is just to drive up ratings." A spokeswoman for the governing Green party described the show as "shameless voyeurism", and urged viewers to switch off immediately.

The row over the limits of voyeur television has been growing. In an bid to capture ratings, Germany's private "tabloid" television stations have broadcast reality shows involving celebrities forced to eat cockroaches in the jungle, women obliged to compete for a millionaire husband and Big Brother, which offers its participants a top prize of €1m. The series was pulled off air after viewers complained it had begun to resemble a soft-porn film, with contestants licking chocolate mousse off each other's bodies.

The battle for audiences entered a new phase yesterday when the private Sat1 channel unveiled its latest reality TV offering, My Big Fat Embarrassing Fiancé, in which an unwitting female guinea pig has to marry a grossly overweight male partner, who "farts, burps and sticks his sausage-like fingers into jars of Nutella".

Sat1 said the woman, a dentist named Mareike, could win €500,000 if she married an overweight actor named Gunnar, and convinced her family to attend the televised wedding. "If anyone in the family fails to show, the cash prize won't be paid," a spokeswoman said.

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