Alice Jones: Now viewers have real stars in their eyes



If you listen carefully, you might hear it: the death rattle of reality television. It sounds a bit like Jessie J – with added samples of the swoosh of a thousand false eyelashes and whoosh of a thousand bandage dress zips, laid over a beat of sexting and humiliation. Quite catchy.

Twelve years on from the escapades of Nasty Nick and Nice Craig in the first Big Brother and 11 years on from the triumph of Hear'Say in the first Popstars, the viewing public has had enough. The final of Big Brother this week pulled in a measly 1.5 million viewers, the lowest figures ever.

Tottering hot on its heels comes Celebrity Big Brother with possibly its most gruesome parade yet – a heart-sinking spectacle of faded stars, Julian Clary, Bet Gilroy and Martin Kemp lolling on sofas with people "known" for, in no particular order, being accused of sending a rude text to someone quite famous (Rhian Sugden), writing a rude article (Samantha Brick) and being quite rude on a different reality show (Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino).

Meanwhile, The X Factor returns to television tomorrow night, to a nationwide chorus of resigned sighs and Twitter snarks. The 2011 final of the musical talent show pulled in four million fewer viewers than the year before. Earlier this year, much-vaunted young pretender The Voice, once people had got over the novelty of watching the judges not watching the acts, shed six million viewers over the course of its debut series and eventually dwindled into The Silence, failing to produce even a Top 40 record and cancelling its tour when nobody bought a ticket. Someone ought to have realised that the nation's talent well was drying up when Britain's Got Talent was forced to give its first prize to a dog.

Now, as if to kick a genre when it's down, Lord Coe has criticised the reality television myth that "you can be a celebrity in six hours". "I joined an athletics club when I was 11 years old and I didn't get to the Olympics until I was 23," he said. "We have to be careful that we don't create celebrity-driven culture where people think it is better to be famous for nothing than be anonymous for doing something creative."

In other words, we should be grateful to Team GB for, among myriad other achievements, helping the scales to fall from our eyes. Already, they have made the nation's favourite sport, football, look weedy – a haul of 29 gold medals is all it takes, apparently, to make us realise that our players are consistently under-achieving and overpaid. Now might their Olympian efforts turn us off the empty spectacle of instant celebrity for good?

Perhaps, although the rot set in long before Mo and Jessica crossed the finish line. Still, a return to varied Saturday night programming would be a Games legacy everyone could get on board with. Until then, we've always got the Paralympics.

Desperate times for Desperate Dan

Is it too much to say that without The Dandy, there would have been no Danny Boyle? Possibly, but the tone of the Opening Ceremony surely owed something to the comic's madcap, irreverent trawl through life in modern Britain. This week, it was revealed that the magazine is set to retire from the shelves on its 75th birthday in December. At its height, the escapades of Desperate Dan, Beryl the Peril and Bully Beef and Chips sold two million copies a week. Today, it barely scrapes 8,000 readers.

It's easy to be over-romantic about these things, to bemoan the fact that the children of today prefer to spend their time hunched over computers, shooting virtual guns rather than sniggering at talking dogs in comics, but the loss of The Dandy is to be mourned, and it's bad news for an already ailing British satirical tradition, too.

For many children, The Dandy will have been their introduction to comedy, a gateway comic to the more adult pleasures of Viz and Private Eye. I'm not sure the current chart-toppers Peppa Pig and Moshi Monsters have quite the same zing about them (though I'm hardly their target audience), but I am sure the news-stands will be a less colourful place without Desperate Dan's swagger. Even if I did always prefer the Beano.

Picasso's nude woman gets a bra for 24 hours

As the world dons neon balaclavas in support of Pussy Riot, Edinburgh has been having its very own Picasso Riot. At the beginning of this year's festival, managers at the city's airport took the bizarre decision to censor a poster of Picasso's Nude Woman in a Red Armchair that was hanging in its arrival hall to advertise an exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery.

A passenger complained that she didn't much care for being greeted by a pair of giant oil-painted breasts, Pablo or no Pablo thank you very much, and so, in a move straight out of a spoof fly-on-the-wall documentary, the authorities covered the offending area with a strip of vinyl, transforming one of the masterpieces of 20th century art into Nude Woman in a Red Armchair and White Bra. Within 24 hours, realising the error of their ways, they stripped her off again.

Now she sits proudly untampered-with in the arrivals hall once more, alongside all those billboards of skimpily clad models selling bikinis.

Twitter: @alicevjones

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Rafael Nadal is down and out, beaten by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon – but an era is not thereby ended  

Sad as it is, Rafael Nadal's decline does not mark the end of tennis's golden era

Tom Peck
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test