DJ Haza dreams of reality-free TV in more more "Frustrated Ramblings Of An Aspiring Filmmaker"...
After 12 series, various celebrity versions, Big Brother’s Big Mouth, Big Brother’s Little Brother, millions of Facebook status’ and it spanning 70 countries worldwide – it’s finally over. Big Brother finally bit the dust in the UK this year and I say good riddance.
Why anyone would want to watch a group of fame-hungry arseholes, idiots and wannabes talk the most innate and pointless shit to each other all day everyday for months on end is beyond me. With them all sharing a single brain cell and being totally devoid of a personality I’d rather poke the sharp end of a shitty stick repeatedly into my eye in all honesty. Big Brother is the lowest form of entertainment and serves absolutely no point what so ever. If those 15 or so contestants were at least doing some form of community service whilst in ‘the house’ then at least the world could benefit.
In my opinion Big Brother lowered the standards of television and I’ve watched some shit in my time. There were rumors at one point of Channel Five being in talks with Endemol over BB, but thank Christ they have come to nothing. People moan that this country is going to the dogs and society is a shambles, but the example BB sets for our kids isn’t helping. Basically the show states that if you have no discernable talent, but can throw a damn fine wobbler live on television then you may just become a star without having to open a single textbook. And it’s not just BB, but all manner of ridiculous reality TV shows like The Farm, There’s Something About Miriam and The Club. Who gives a shit if Sam Fox can run a bar?
Now that Big Brother has finally died what will Channel Four do with the several million hours of television that the show, it’s many guises and spin-offs consumed? With all that airtime seemingly now open for business and the several millions of pounds that is usually pumped into it sitting in an off shore bank account surely real television can prevail? Channel Four have been quoted in saying that they plan to fill the void with more films. Now there’s a commitment to pushing the boundaries of television if I ever saw one!
Channel Four, E4 and More4 have a range of cutting edge television shows at their disposal at present and I’d love to see them invest in even more to fill the BB gap. Documentaries like Body Shock, comedy like The Inbetweeners and drama like Skins are all hugely successful. Shane Meadows’ This Is England ’86 has been one of the most eagerly anticipated TV shows in recent times. So why not make more?
Our TV guides seem to be clogged up with reality TV rather than fiction and the reason is simple. It’s cheap. Getting a camera crew to follow some half wit as they go about their retarded day is a lot cheaper than recreating 1980’s Britain on a council estate in Sheffield or building big budget sets to fill with high priced actors. With the abundant amount of talented British programme and filmmakers we should surely be making more fiction! We have the talent to do so. But we don’t.
With established British filmmakers such as Shane Meadows turning to television for their creative outlets could it be possible to tempt others to follow suit? Could the scheduling gap left by BB be filled by the likes of Danny Boyle trying their hand at a series/serial? With the recent abolishment of the UK Film Council there could well be difficult times ahead for the British film industry and as a result talented filmmakers will be looking for a cheque to pay their impending electricity bill. Across the pond in the U.S. there seems to be a lot more cinematic television than we have here. Spielberg made The Pacific and Martin Scorcese has had a helping hand in the creation of Boardwalk Empire. Okay maybe those budgets are too big for our small British pockets, but you don’t need a 1940s beach in the Pacific with shells exploding in order to get cinematic elements. TV doesn’t need to be expensive to be effective. The Wire looks like it was shot for the price of a packet of chewing gum, but it is cited by almost any person who has ever attempted to make a TV show as gripping television and inspirational programme-making.
In general the television produced in the U.S. just seems to be better than a lot of ours. The Guardian recently published it’s top 50 TV shows of all time according to their writers. The Sopranos quite rightfully won it hands down and seems to be one of benchmarks that every American TV show is measured against now. However, there were a lot of great British shows in there too. Boys From The Blackstuff, State of Play, Queer As Folk and Our Friends In The North were all in the top 50 and evidence that we have made some quality television in the past.
Looking at the writers of British stock who have received recent success and it’s still clear we have talent. Paul Abbott has had amazing success in British television with Clocking Off, Shameless and State of Play – the last of which was made into a Hollywood film and Paul received a producer’s credit. Russell T. Davies revived Doctor Who with immense success after Queer As Folk. Martin McDonagh made his first short film after his phenomenal success in theatre and won the Oscar for Best Short Film. He then followed that with In Bruges. Do you think he would fancy having a scribble for TV? As for directors there are Ridley and Tony Scott, Paul Greengrass, Oscar-winning Danny Boyle and Hollywood flavour of the month Christopher Nolan. Say no more.
At present this country seems to have a real abundance for talent and yet it doesn’t seem to be utilised by our television industry. Money as always is no doubt a factor, but some of the names mentioned above can easily recoup their fees just by being linked with a project. They may even just convince some of the A-list Hollywood actors we have lost to the other side of the pond to come home and put a shift in for our televisual pleasure. Daniel Craig, Ewan McGregor, Jason Statham, Christian Bale, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Sir Ian McKellan, Brian Cox, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Kate Beckinsale, Sean Been, Ralph Fiennes, Gary Oldman, Ray Winstone – all of which would happily take a cheque for a small part in Harry Potter no doubt. So why not for British television? Alfred Molina has recently taken a starring role in Roger and Val Have Just Got In alongside Dawn French for the BBC.
It seems like any combination of the above names and a cheque of reasonable size and we should have a great product on our hands. In any form of storytelling from television to novels story is key. Our filmmakers have proven that they know how to tell a damn good story and the pool of acting talent has proven they can convey the emotion necessary to tell those stories. Surely it would sell in any number of English speaking countries around the world and bring in a shed load of money to fund other projects? Several of those talents learnt their trade in British television and were given their first chance to shine. Surely they should feel some noble sense of wanting to give back? At least they should want to help save the British film and television industries from dying on their arses.
Big Brother and most other forms of reality television are cheap ways to exploit people and get a cheap laugh. Surely we are worthy of more than that? Surely we desire more than that from our entertainment? In my opinion anyone who wants to watch Big Brother should be stripped of their civil rights and flogged on the street alongside Davina McCall and whatever twat created the format. I hereby call the British film talent of the world to come home and make something special for our television screens. Big Brother is dead. Step up gritty drama directors, heart-warming comedy writers and other fiction story telling talent. Your country needs you!
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