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There was not much reality in BBC's latest reality show.

Byline: Phil Redmond

LAST week, the BBC ran yet another reality TV show, under the guise of a political documentary. There was no need to have watched it, as you probably already know the standard script by now.

Hand-picked participants, thrown into an untypical situation, who then have to cope without the things they normally take for granted.

It All the staples of the reality genre were in evidence: producer-engineered events, pressure, conflict, humiliation and the participants soon became contestants.

gap but in It filled a gap in the schedule, but not in our knowledge, and probably reinforced two growing concerns. That those who spend public money often do so following an agenda more informed by their peers, than the public they are supposed to serve, while that agenda itself is far detached from the taxpayers from whom they draw their revenues.

The programme, The Street That Cut Everything was, of course, about public spending cuts and while probably a decent idea at the commissioning pitch, it suffered from the usual problem of, with massive irony, the BBC simply not having, or not wishing, to devote sufficient resources to examine the premise properly over a period of time.

The title, though, gave away the programme's main flaw, because the street itself had not decided to give up everything; they had been persuaded by the BBC to take part in a telly show.

If they had decided among themselves to give up all council-funded services or activities, this would have been far more valid, and interesting, as it would obviously have come after a longer period of local debate and decision making. They would also, no doubt, have made more selective choices about what to cut or what to buy in rather than simply resort to DIY.

It would never be a simple either/or choice, just as it would never be a straight choice between council and corporate activity. Local people would probably come together and divvy up who wanted to do what.

a in the Who would cut the park grass? Who would cart away other people's rubbish and so on? Not through sheer altruism, but for a fee? not How much would you pay a neighbour to collect and cart away your rubbish, instead of having to fret about your wheelie bin rules and knowledge regulations? This is also exactly the sort of debate our so-called elected representatives should be encouraging. They can't afford to do it all any more. And we can't afford to pay them for not doing it.


POSTSCRIPT: A BIGGER irony is that the BBC invented reality TV in 1974 with a documentary series called The Family. Back then, though, they spent a year or so making it.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 27, 2011
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