Many hit U.S. reality TV shows have their roots in the U.K., ranging from American Idol (a copy of the British smash Pop Idol) to The Mole. However, not every reality show can succeed in both countries. For example, Survivor, the idea of a U.K. production company, was never produced in the U.K. until after it became a U.S. hit, and it then flopped completely there. And its clone, I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here!, featuring D-list celebs, remains a U.K. phenomenon despite being a superdud in the U.S.
The latest British reality hit seems likely to join the "only on one side of the pond" category. The Associated Press reports that the hottest reality show in the U.K. right now is entitled How Clean is Your House? The show features two fastidious women (a sheik's housekeeper and a magazine editor) passing judgment on others' housekeeping. One British newspaper, in its effort to win the "understatement of the year" award, refers to this as an "unlikely spectator sport."
But the British have other potential U.S. reality shows coming down the pike, too. How about The Dinner Party Inspectors, which features two middle-aged women offering commentary to accompany closed-circuit telecasts of dinner parties? Or Drop the Celebrity, in which D-list celebrities (who apparently didn't make the cut for I'm A Celebrity ...) are loaded onto an airplane flying at 12,000 feet and have to tell stories about their fame, and the audience-picked loser takes the plunge (with a parachute, unfortunately)?
Ben Silverman, the producer of NBC's upcoming reality show "The Restaurant," which debuts July 20, notes that the concept of his show is based upon the British format of the "docusoap," which films real people in real settings. We hope that watching his show will at least be more interesting that criticizing others' housework or spying on dinner parties.
However, we believe that Heisenberg's uncertainty principle has a "reality TV corrollary": you can observe the real events or you can film them, but you can't do both, because the act of filming changes the events.