Menu

Drama shows pitfalls of Reality TV

billy taking a selfie in make me famous
billy taking a selfie in make me famous Image credit: bbc.co.uk

This year would had marked the 20th anniversary of Big Brother, but the reality TV show was given the axe two years ago after almost two decades of the public watching the public in a house.

BB maybe gone, but in its wake a trail of similar series making people famous overnight and throwing them in the limelight continue to grace our screen.

A new one-off BBC drama highlights the pitfalls contestants of such show face when they try to return to ordinary life and the impact it can have on their mental health.

Tom Brittney plays Billy in Make Me Famous where he portrays a normal average 24-year-old lad who took part in a dating show, called ‘Love or Lust’, last year.

The film, produced by Reggie Yates, follows Billy trying to sustain his popularity after leaving the show and how doing so takes its toll on his mental health.

Brittney told RadioTimes.com: “There’s contestants on The Bachelor who’ve taken their own lives, and there’s other contestants from other reality TV shows. The world of celebrity culture has claimed many lives, and I don’t see that it won’t in the future; not to be cynical, but that’s why I think shows like this are really important.”

He went on to discuss the lack of support available to reality TV stars once the cameras stop rolling and the number of suicides from those who can’t adjust back to their normal lives.

“Not all producers of these [reality] shows are terrible people, but I still think that there are a few who really do have a lot to answer for, knowing they’re putting contestants on with mental health problems, or red flags they should have spotted earlier.

“But in the end, they make money and they entertain people, so I don’t know – and also you can’t fully blame them, it’s very hard to sort of go, ‘Well you caused [Love Island contestant] Mike Thalassitis to kill himself.’ It’s so much more complex than that.”

Speaking about the hopes he has the drama will have in the real world Billy said: “I’d love for there to be a… inquest into how aftercare works for these shows. I don’t know to what extent it’s been changed; I know from my experience on going on daytime talk shows and stuff like that is that their aftercare is reasonably minimal in certain places. Not that it’s not there, but I think what they can expose you to – possibly they [a show’s mental health team] need to be there more and for longer, for people who have no experience with how to deal with online abuse.”

He admits being a sucker for Reality TV himself: “[I] never got to the thing of abusing anyone online or that kind of extent, but [I was] definitely falling for the ‘villain’ type character, of being like, ‘God he’s such a bastard’ or something like that.”

Brittney added: “I think, genuinely, fame is just a really hard thing for a lot of people,” he says, “I think it’s a very unnatural state to be in, even as an actor or anything like that, it’s not natural to be watched and have potentially millions of people having an opinion over your work and then your personal life.”

“It’s a really hard thing for someone to handle, especially if you’ve just kind of skyrocketed from doing a show, and then suddenly you come out [of the show], and the minute you come out you’re met at the airport by paparazzi – and then from then on, it’s just kinda non-stop, and your personal life being under attack, people going through your bins… I mean, that’s gonna take its toll on most people.”

Make Me Famous is streaming now on BBC iPlayer and shown on BBC One on Thursday June 25 at 9pm.