Leading article: Reality television

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The Independent Online

The law of unintended consequences strikes again. High definition television was designed to inject new excitement into domestic entertainment. Viewers were promised an inspection of every blade of grass on the sports field and beautiful definition of the tiniest insect in wildlife documentaries.

What the producers didn't plan on was the new technology revealing the details of crumbling soap opera sets, or rushed make-up jobs. And now, as we report, they are scrambling to smooth such rough edges (which in a previous age would have gone unnoticed by the viewer) by the time these programmes are broadcast in high-definition. This is reality TV, but not as the entertainment moguls intended it.

Which just goes to confirm what C.P. Snow once said: "Technology... is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other." Surely a fit subject for a documentary. In high definition naturally.