Remembering Ourselves, Viewing the Others: participant audiences of historical reality TV

Rebecca Williams, Ruth McElroy

Allbwn ymchwil: Pennod mewn Llyfr/Adroddiad/Trafodion CynhadleddCyfraniad i gynhadledd


Prompted by the editing and super-textual coverage, the question, 'why do they do it?' is often asked of the participants in popular factual entertainment. More often than not, the question is posed rhetorically. Despite seeming to find the motives for ordinary people's involvement in such constructed television scenarios perplexing, even unfathomable, those who pose such questions seem actually to have their own answers prepared - fame, the pursuit of celebrity, being on television. This paper seeks to examine the question more carefully and by close reference to a small-scale piece of qualitative, ethnographic research with the participants and families of a recent BBC Wales series, Coal House (Indus 2007-). Describing itself as 'the reality of living in the past', Coal House saw three Welsh families 'transported' back to 1927 to experience day to day life in the south Wales coalfield. In 2008, Coal House at War employed the same conceit, setting its reconstruction in 1944. Both followed in the footsteps of earlier shows produced by Wall to Wall, including The 1900s House, The 1940s House, and The Edwardian Country House in seeking to recreate a domestic historical past for contemporary, ordinary participants to experience, and possibly, endure. Such 'constructed documentaries' offer the promise of a renewed understanding of our recent ancestors. In historical reality TV, the big reveal is the past itself. This paper traces the complex intellectual, social and affective experiences of participants involved in this distinct form of factual entertainment. Based on qualitative interviews, analysis of social network sites, public performances and most significantly participant observation akin to Wood's 'text-in-action' (2007), we detail the range of discourses that shape participants' experience of involvement in these shows.
Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
StatwsCyhoeddwyd - 29 Mai 2009
Digwyddiad Big Reveal: Lifestyle TV Conference - University of Brighton
Hyd: 29 Mai 200929 Mai 2009


Cynhadledd Big Reveal: Lifestyle TV Conference

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