ITV launched a new Freeview channel this week, ITVBe, which appears to be a gaudy, dizzying nightmare merry-go-round of all the stuff deemed to be too lowbrow for ITV2. It is safe to expect a lot of “Real Housewives of…”, featuring cast members where, ironically, the only real thing left on them is their untreated, flagrant neuroses; ill-disguised Come Dine With Me rips-offs; and Peter Andre or those of his ilk. ITV believes Peter Andre to be every British housewife’s dream date rather than a man who married Jordan only to become outraged at her sexual excess (a bit like complaining that Twiglets are too Marmite-y. You knew what you were getting into) and who considers it appropriate to talk to his young son about the erection he got on I’m A Celebrity. “And that’s when everyone saw that daddy was very excited.” Son: “Shut up.” If only his son were an ITV producer.
Something I’ve always found curious about ITV is its picking of certain perma-tanned talent voids and foisting them on the public with a perplexing ferocity, as though they were delightful ingénues rather than, say, Brain McFadden. I would posit that it stems from a misguided desire to present their stars as a kind of everyman. The hole in this theory being that not every man has been married to Kerry Katona or the fifth best member of Westlife. But there it is, McFadden is their chosen star of the moment, following the hallowed footsteps of Mark Wright and Peter Andre. ITV seems to think he is funny and charming rather than an inexplicable cross between Jim Davidson and a failed Eurovision entry.
The same incestuous casting could be seen with Mark Wright – shunted up and down the ITVs by dint of merely being handsome in an anodyne way, as if designed by a committee of unimaginative schoolgirls. These people bear no discernible charisma and are interesting merely for being on TV and having no qualms about sharing their private lives in nauseating detail, priming a slice of a generation to believe that using their personal lives as currency in place of education, intellect or talent is the path to success. I find it cynical and patronising that ITV believes these bellends are the TV stars the British working class deserves.
It is fair to say my remote won’t be troubling this particular reality TV realm.