As part of the ‘Why We Love …’ series of discussions, which celebrate our most loved TV genres, the RTS will be turning its attention to ever popular ‘reality’ format.
Reality TV has pretty much always been around, even if it wasn’t called reality back then. In 1964, Granada Television launched its documentary Seven UP, charting the lives of 14 British children to adulthood, and ordinary people’s lives continued to provide subject matter for documentaries such as the BBC’s The Family (1974), Sylvanian Waters (1992) and Airport (1996), plus MTV’s long-running hit The Real World, launching in 1992.
However, it wasn’t until the early 2000’s that ‘reality’ became a genre in its own right, as breakout hits such as Big Brother (Channel 4, 2000), Popstars (ITV, 2001) and I’m A Celebrity (ITV, 2002) took the world by storm and made ‘reality’ a household word.
Since then, the list of reality hits goes on and on, so much so that sub-genres have emerged - structured (Made in Chelsea, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Real Housewives, elimination (Love Island, Married at First Sight, X Factor) and even extreme (Race Across the World, Hunted, SAS: Who Dare's Wins). Popularity shows no sign of waning, and the likes of Netflix are now firmly in the game with recent global hits including Too Hot to Handle and Selling Sunset.
So, what actually is reality television today? Are we really just talking about entertainment? What are the key ingredients to a reality hit? Where next for the format? How might it look in a more global age of television?
Why We Love … Reality brings together a fantastic panel of experts, presenters, producers and commissioners to discuss the genre’s enduring success.
- Richard Cowles, Director of Entertainment, ITV Studios Entertainment (Love Island, I’m a Celebrity)
- Katy Manley, Managing Director, Initial (Big Brother)
- Rick Murray – Managing Director, Workerbee (The Bridge)
- Craig Orr, VP, Original Content & Development, Youth and Entertainment for international at ViacomCBS
- Chaired by Rylan Clark-Neal