Look Mum, I'm on TV

Look Mum, I'm on TV
Photo Credit: Prime Video

Hello there.

The funniest thing, over the last 2 months I have had close to 11 different times where I had a series of thoughts and I said to myself 'this would make a great blog' and now I finally have time to write one I can't remember a single one of them.

Hmm, let me put on some music.

Oh I remember one of them and it all started with a documentary.

'The Greatest Show Never Made' is a documentary on Prime which is very strange indeed. It follows 8 or so people who were involved in a reality TV show in the early 2000's. Well kind of, the whole thing was a scam. Or was it.

I remember when reality TV shows became a hit in my country in a big way. It all started with the Australian version of Big Brother. I didn't watch it a lot but it was talked about at school all the time. I hate that I know this, but the winner of Season One was a guy called Ben. I did not have to google that, it has somehow found itself a place in my long term memory even though things like the parental pin on my Nintendo Switch couldn't make it in. When I spent 35 mins trying to reset my pin so I could reconnect the switch to the internet, I was comforted by the fact that I knew the first name of a reality TV contestant from 2001.

I was almost 18 when Big Brother Australia launched which is a tough age as I was old enough to apply to take part in next years show but not old enough to know that that would be the world's worst idea. But I was the perfect target market because they were selling something that was almost impossible to resist - become famous without skill.

This is what the contestants of this Project MS-2 were hoping. They would be thrust into the limelight and have the greatest life ever. It certainly looked like that was going to be the case when they turned up for the audition - there was a full camera crew with a talented director and the man in the middle of it all was the charismatic Nikita Russian, the show creator.

This show was promised to be like nothing else. It wouldn't take mere months, but a full calender year. The prize money was £100,000 which was £30,000 more than the winner of Big Brother UK. But the casting advertisment didn't say £100,000 prize money, it just said 'one year - £100,000'.

There were 30 people chosen to be a part of the show, divided into 3 groups of 10, and all of them were told to clear all commitments for the year including leaving their jobs and moving out of their homes and giving up leases. They needed to meet in London, packed and with their passport. Weird yes, but for the chance to get on TV there is nothing too weird, right? Right?

Well they met in a park on a rainy day and there was no camera crew except for an amateur camera man who was 'hired' for the year for £100,000. He was filming everything and one of the contestants (that was chosen as the team leader), had to give the shocking news that she had just got moments before from Nikita. The show was each group had one year to make £1,000,000. That was it. This was how the £100k was not just for the winner, it was for all of them.... if they made it. They were earning their own prize money.

They had been scammed - the TV genius Nikita Russian was not a big time TV producer and he had not sold the show to anyone. He believed that the 'contestants' would make it work and it would be such a truly compelling experiment that the networks would lap it up. But he had no money, and the camera crew and director that were at the audition were not there becuase he had failed to pay them. But this crazy young man still pushed ahead, getting people to uproot their lives to come to a park in London only to find out they had nowhere to live.

Now here is the fascinating bit. There were 3 teams of contestants: one we don't find out about but we can only assume that when they were told what the show was about they all left. The second group went to one of the contestants' friends' house only to find out that that friend worked at the book store that this Nikita Russian worked at part time. But it was our main group that did the fascinating bit - they stayed together. The camera man opened his 1 bedroom flat to them all and they all went there to work out how to make this show happen.

There was no show, but these 8 people (I don't know what happened to the others) tried to make it work. They were annoyed that they had given up so much, but the even bigger issue for them was that they were not going to be on TV.

I can't get over that, the allure of fame covered over so many red flags. Like they didn't have a contract until they got to London; they had to pay for all of their travel and expenses; and the insane £100k for one year promise. No one wanted to question anything because it might disqualify them from being involved.

So it might be easy to say these people made a bad decision and found out fame wasn't worth the sacrifice, but the worst part is that they might not have. Because after 3 nights of sleeping on the floor of a lounge room and going around asking for free food they finally concluded this was a scam and reported it to a news network. I think when Nikita Russian came and asked to stay on the floor as well because he was homeless, was the final clue.

The news network came when Nikita was still at their place and was ambushed. That night every single one of them were on TV and their dreams had come true. Now 20 years later they are starring in a 3-part Prime documentary. All of them turned out to live well-rounded lives, even Nikita Russian who changed his name out of shame but has found love and a family. But here is the thing, someone may have looked at what they went through and thought - 'Wow, that is worth it because of the attention they got back then and now today'.

And this is what concerns me and something I want to keep talking about. Next Topic - Tik Tok.