Lancaster University adds voice to help make reality TV a safer experience

Old fashioned TV and test card

Six academics from a consortium of UK Universities, including Lancaster University, have submitted evidence to the Public Inquiry on Reality TV currently happening in Parliament.

 Dr Tracey Jensen and Professor Helen Wood from Lancaster University provided written evidence along with academics from Brunel, Leicester and Leeds universities.

The Inquiry was launched by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport following the death of Jeremy Kyle guest Steven Dymond, and the deaths of two former Love Island contestants.

The Inquiry seeks to examine the psychological support and aftercare provided to reality TV contestants, and to find out whether reality TV productions put unfair pressure upon participants.

“We welcome this long-overdue Inquiry,” said Dr Tracey Jensen, a Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Lancaster University and one of the academics contributing to the written evidence.

“British television has an excellent global reputation, but some reality TV production has long been regarded by media scholars as a theatre of cruelty. Many formats work by staging highly stressful situations, which are used to manufacture conflict and elicit particular emotional performances from participants.

“Our evidence draws on a rich field of production studies to make recommendations for how to make reality TV a safer experience for those that want to participate in it.”

Also contributing to the written evidence is Professor Helen Wood, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Lancaster University, who said: “It is remarkable that something so lucrative to the British TV landscape, relying on what ITV has described as the ‘talent and energies of ordinary people’, has evolved without any regulatory oversight of the protection or reward-structure for participants.”

The Public Inquiry has begun collecting oral evidence and will publish its report and recommendations towards the end of the year.

The written evidence is available in full here and there is more information about the Public Inquiry here.



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