Simon’s Backup Weblog


Reality TV goes too far?

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on November 19, 2005

or just pretends to?

Endemol, the company behind ‘Big Brother’, is pulling out all the stops for its new Channel 4 production. In it, contestants vie to fly to space. The snag? They will be grounded at a military base, victims of probably the biggest hoax ever attempted on TV.

[…]

For 10 days, the channel will televise the contestants as they undergo intensive training in Russia, before being flown 100km (62 miles)above the Earth into near space. Here they will spend five days orbiting the Earth and conducting experiments. Or so they think.

In reality, the nine – joined by three actors whom they believe to be fellow contestants – will be at a disused military base somewhere in the UK and will never leave the ground. The whole process will be filmed live in an unprecedented television event presented by Johnny Vaughan.

Next: “The Truman Show”?

And does Russia really smell of boiled cabbage? Or am I the only one to find this aspect of the hoax somewhat xenophobic?

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8 Responses to 'Reality TV goes too far?'

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  1. quercus said,

    If they had any real sense of irony they’d have OJ Simpson as one of the planted astronauts.

  2. purplecthulhu said,

    So how are they going to arrange the zero g for the ‘near space’ segment? Or are we all so ignorant now that we think artificial gravity exists?

    I suspect the thing may be more a hoax on the viewer and that they’re all actors…

  3. zotz said,

    Allegedly they’re going to explain it as not bbeing far enough up to be weightless (yeah, right) but there’s no word how they’d explain the lack of acceleration on liftoff.

    Not even a reality TV show producer would hope to get away with so much.

  4. quercus said,

    If you read the article (I think it’s free on the first day, then pay-per-view after that) they had some detail on that.

    It’s only claimed to be a very low Earth orbit (100km) so a weightless orbit is unlikely anyway. The other questions of how you’re staying up there at all with the engines off and how a new space station other than ISS/Mir/Salyut suddenly appeared at this ridiculous low orbit are quite another matter.

    The punters were also recruited for “gullibility”. Despite some psycho-babble in the article, I assume this means Jade-Goody-thick and so technically ignorant that they think Von Braun invented matt black shavers. Some of the “crew” will be stooges working to a script. I presume at least one of the others will be the saddest sort of trekkie they could dredge up as a default figure of fun for the audience.

    The lift-off forces will be simulated by hydraulics and some large round airbags described as “air biscuits”. I hope Viz are reading this and I look forward to their Eagle-style Lesley Ashwell-Wood cutaway of Britain’s first fart-propelled rocket.

  5. guybles said,

    And does Russia really smell of boiled cabbage?

    In the mind of the average reality TV show contestant, yes. They will probably also be convinced by such nonsesnse as the staff wearing tall, furry hats and saying “-ski” after half the things they say. When they’re not saying “Comrade”, obviously.

  6. purplecthulhu said,

    It’s only claimed to be a very low Earth orbit (100km) so a weightless orbit is unlikely anyway.

    If its an orbit then you’re in freefall, otherwise you need the engines on all the time to fight the gravity dragging you back down. The fact that they can even think about getting this over on people says a lot about the level of science education of the general public.

  7. jiggery_pokery said,

    If this is a big hoax, I just don’t understand why they’re telling everyone “Yoohoo! It’s a big hoax!” beforehand, unless they’re taping it now or have taped it already.

  8. marypcb said,

    the contestants are in seclusion now.


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