A few years ago, I was saying the opposite. “More real people on TV please!” Dozens of house-hunting programmes later with ordinary people competing with sewing/cooking/singing and I’ve changed my mind…
I now see the appeal of people trained to perform.
As one with a compulsive house-hunting programme obsession, I rarely miss a programme. But the Escape to the Country one must top the lot.
Shiny, smooth, friendly, tolerant people faced with deadpan voices, estranged couples, chubby, badly dressed real people who’ve made no effort to smarten up for TV… it’s awful.
They shuffle about trying to sound like they know what they’re talking about and just ape the presenters with their catchphrases and slick comments. (See Part II.)
I’ve seen it all. I worked many years at an estate agent showing these people around houses and flats. They all seemed to think they had to contribute something knowledgeable to the viewing.
“Is the attic boarded?” and “Is this a partition wall?” and “I don’t think we’d fit our king-sized bed in here.”
No dearie. You wouldn’t. This cottage was meant for poor people. The builders didn’t envisage young’uns like you with your home-offices and LinkedIn profiles and annual amassing crap living in a humble worker’s cottage like this in 150 years. They had a fire and some tools maybe.
But these ordinary people are now on TV. Commenting on the wallpaper and floor tiles of someone else’s house. Making a mess with cake mixture or zips and Velcro. Get off! Go and do all this in the privacy of your own homes.
I want experts on my TV. Reasonably well-dressed, people who’ve bothered to brush their hair and wear clothes that fit. Telling me things they know and I don’t.
It’s a mistake I hope programme producers realise that the ‘docu-drama’ approach is failing. Real people doing real things, God! I wouldn’t sit in my neighbour’s house for an hour watching them just… live.
Glamour, that’s what I want. People who’ve been transformed by the make-up artist. People who can speak… Can we just leave it to the professionals? Leave the rest of us at home on this side of the camera. That’s where we belong.
The experiment’s over. The findings are: it didn’t work.