“Notting Hill”- reality TV

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Curse you Channel 4! Just as sane people everywhere, along with the insane who have better things to do (by which I mean ANYTHING), were rejoicing at the long-awaited death of Big Brother, you go and announce yet another piece of brainless programming. I realise there’s not much money knocking about these days, but surely what there is can be put to better use than the next phase in the seemingly endless pandemic of reality TV.

It’s bad enough that the premise for the show shows absolutely no imaginative input at all- following people around Notting Hill, living their daily lives. Did one of the creative execs at Channel 4 just, very belatedly, get around to seeing the Hugh Grant film of the same name and think “That place looks pretty cool, let’s go there and film some people”? Thanks to this masterstroke, your TV viewing next year could potentially include this bizarre cross between Eastenders and the little known handbook Stalking for Dummies.

The attraction of this show is totally non-existent: if I want to see people living their normal lives, I can do it whenever I want by simply going outside and, frankly speaking, almost always it really isn’t that brilliant. Why do people keep tuning in to this garbage? If everyday life wasn’t almost entirely made up of routine, run-of-the-mill occurrences then we wouldn’t have invented fiction as a means of entertainment and escape from it in the first place.

Picture the scene: your child asks to be read a bedtime story, you pull out Hansel and Gretel and start reading, only for little Sarah to say “Not that one, tell me the one about Dave and Tracey going to the supermarket and having a big row with the old lady about pushing into the queue at the till before they go home, bake a pizza and eat it. I really want to hear the end, I still don’t know what toppings they chose”. Never going to happen.

This idea isn’t even new- they see to think they’ve hit upon some kind of new concept by not having a closed environment, but I’m pretty sure MTV beat them to this one a few years ago- “Laguna Beach” and, more recently “The Hills” anyone? “Notting Hill” is basically as close to a UK version of “The Hills” could possibly get, even without the obvious similarity in location names- privileged and wealthy, but not yet famous, folk walking around the area where they live, insulated from the existence of the less well-off majority talking, drinking, buying things, maybe occasionally working.

I’m not saying there’s nothing of interest in the real world, far from it- there’s so much to learn, so many mysteries still unsolved, so debates raging and so many different ways of life to discover and appreciate. If you want to show a programme about the everyday life of a group of people, why not make it a group of people who have vastly different lives to our own, or who need the attention to highlight some terrible ordeal and attract outside help? An isolated tribe in Siberia, or the people left amid the rubble of what used to be Haiti perhaps?


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