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Due to the racist undertones on Big Brother of late and the rule changes on phone voting , Channel Four have begrudgingly decided to cancel the excellent Celebrity Big Bother next year. Because the phone votes were pretty much a scam and theres no money in this game anymore now things have been tightened up it looks like Reality TV is on its last legs. Many will cheer from the roof tops over that one.
Because this format is such a big earner for C4-some 25% of their annual advertising revenue- they need to fill that financial void, so we can expect a lot more shows like Dumped, their latest non-voting reality experiment, effectively a show about the Big Brother tip, as visual a metaphor you are going to get for this garbage TV genre. Was this show subtle mocking punishment for this type of TV wannabe for getting C4 in a pickle or was a it a geniune eco idea?
The producers said there would be a green message to this show, but one suspects it was just the usual exercise to get people that really shouldnt live together to call each other horrid names on national TV. The selective advertising in the intervals suggested there was zero green washing going on here and they were nor targeting a likewise audience, Hello magazine preferred to Wind Turbine news.
Dumped is as a derivative and misguided as it gets as far as reality shows goes, but like most of them, strangely entertaining overt the soap alternative. Actually, dumping a load of reality wanabes in a council tip is deliciously rewarding.
The twist here was the contestants applied to an advert in the various stage and general press none the wiser, the ad asking for eco minded people to take part in a mystery TV show, a twenty grand incentive the carrot. You think they would have learnt something after Channel Four after those plonkers thought they were in space last year. But how rewarding is it to se people on TV that are dumber than us.
Rather bafflingly, if all 12 lasted the three weeks they would share the twenty grand, by my calculations about £ 1200 each, not exactly worth taking your annual leave in a tip for. Surely these clowns didnt think they could get a career in television off the back of this. Some certainly thought they could get a spread in a lads mag.
Packed off in a coach with the windows sealed, most had bought beach and casual wear expecting to be on something like Shipwrecked, or at worst a Belize rain forest, but horrified when the coach pulls up at Croydon Tip not Heathrow airport!
The mix of part-time models, footballers and students etc, diluted with a gaggle of eco types, seemed to be up for anything if their application tapes are anything to go by, but collectively shocked at the view and whiff of their new home for the next three weeks. The stench is unreal and the prospect of building shelters and surviving here is quickly too much for the posers in the group. The eco types are even confused at whats going on here.
Jermaine: semi-pro footballer (the stroppy one)
Tasha: part time model (the pretty one)
Gyles: advertising manager (the missing his girlfriend one)
Aaron: student (the VERY gay one)
Sylvia: eco tours sales manager (the pretendy one)
Ian: marine engineer (the discipline in the camp one)
Selena: personal trainer (I want to be on TV one)
Jarvis: advertising manager (The fat one)
Christine: designer (The annoying American)
Jason: platinum salesman (Im bored with my life one)
Lawrence: biology student (Cliché student)
Darren: tattooist (No beach, Im off!)
The somewhat spurious format here was we, the viewer, were here to learn about eco issues by watching your bog standard reality wannabes running around a smelly tip trying to do interesting eco things on camera, given rubbish TV a whole new meaning.
After the initial discomfort of the pong and the real reality they would have to live there with some ghastly posers for a while the rows inevitably started, what we are all her for. Tattooist Darren lasted just 48 hours and disappeared into the swarm of seagulls, never to be seen again. Who would have thought the brightest person would be the tattooist.
Germaine, cast as the cliché lazy one, was deliberately obstinate and had no intentions of contributing to the project, there just to see out the three weeks and share the prize money. The token camp gay (quite literally) in Aaron was also treating this as his 15 minutes of fame and wasnt going to lift a fingernail if it meant not being on camera-or breaking his fingernail. Sexy model Tasha, fully kitted out in her designer gear and array of summer scarfs for mid June, was as equally non cooperative early on when it came to green issues and hard work, also joining the naughty group. She was not going to soil her Gucci boots on poor peoples trash.
After building a makeshift living area, reminiscent of a refugee camp tent in Darfur, a piece of flapping blue tarpaulin pulled over some old wood frames, the group settled in to their hovel. It wasnt a real landfill site, but it was smelly and genuinely rubbishy, bulldozered over from the real tip to make things very uncomfortable. But some people will do anything to stay on TV and that was the real point here.
To give the show some sort of eco relevance ,experts would drift in and out giving the campers advice on what to do to live off the land and how chucking stuff away is a really a very bad idea. We would also be bamboozled by eco facts.
Each contestant was given their eco footprint and numbered by how low or high it was. The idea was they learnt how to bring it down over the next three weeks. The C4 film crew failed to explain away their huge carbon footprint from all the trucks and film gear though.
Apparently we lob 15 million cell phones away each year. These are valuable scrap items, the way the team could earn money, collecting them up for the scrap chap and his big lorry. A scrap dealer would come in twice a week and the campers would collect trash to sell to him for food and luxury money. When they saved up enough money they could also buy stuff like wind turbines, quickly deployed to be able to refrigerate food, especially the Ben and Jerrys, what they could also buy. It quickly became clear the group was split and not that eco minded, which was a huge insult to the ones that didnt bring swimwear.
As the contestant didnt know they were coming to live on a Croydon tip for three weeks they bought bikinis, the ubiquitous attire of reality contestants. To make use of the sexy swimwear and likewise contestants, someone (in the production team I suspect) suggested model Tasha built her own sauna and beauty parlor to pass the day, which she admirably did. It was a great excuse for the boys and girls to flex their pecks in the heated bath tub. Viewing figures rose from 27 to 56! It was the first time there had ever been false breast (not discarded ones mind) on Croydon Tip.
As all-action ex military man Ian bawled out the troops to build a proper shelter and living area out of wood and slates before the rains came, the tensions rose, Germaine again at the center of disharmony, whipping off the shirt off in anger, thinking he was that bloke on Lost or something. And as much as there were lots of little interesting facts and figures here on how impossible it really is to go green the base of the show was chest beating and rows, the wining formula for all these shows, what ever their motives. If you ever wondered where the Big Brother studios waste ends up then Dumped is it.
Going green today is really about how self-righteous and middle class you are. The jobs and the decisions the white collar classes do are stripping the planet of their resources but if they buy fair trade coffee for dinner parties then the guilt is some how lifted and expunged and plonked elsewhere, here on reality wannabes. That is a load of bull and this was a load of bull. My green message to C4 would be stop wasting so much of your carbon footprint on outside broadcast dross like this.
Premiered on September 2, 2007.