The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

Anew wave of tele­vi­sion for­mats are set to get into view­ers’ heads – and their pri­vate lives – like never be­fore. Aus­tralian ver­sions of shows such as Mar­ried at First Sight, The Seven Year Switch, The Bach­e­lor/ette and even The Big­ger Loser have had au­di­ences si­mul­ta­ne­ously cap­ti­vated but morally mud­dled for many years now.

It seems the line be­tween eth­i­cal and en­ter­tain­ing is blurred world­wide.

An eye-pop­ping Ital­ian game show that al­lows cou­ples to snoop into their part­ner’s mo­bile phone and a Span­ish dat­ing pro­gram that uses hack­ers to spy on po­ten­tial dates were un­veiled at MIPTV, the world’s top TV gath­er­ing, in Cannes.

The shows are part of a new gen­er­a­tion of pro­gram­ming that an­a­lysts say uses tech­nol­ogy to make TV more in­ti­mate and com­pelling.

The Phone Se­crets gives par­tic­i­pants to­tal ac­cess to their lover’s phone mes­sages and so­cial me­dia ac­counts.

The cou­ple that sur­vives the or­deal with the least to hide wins. The mak­ers of Hacked Love, which will air later this year in Spain, claim that six out of 10 peo­ple lie on their first date. To counter this, they em­ploy hack­ers to dig into con­tes­tants’ pasts while out on a date, point­ing out lies or po­ten­tially em­bar­rass­ing in­for­ma­tion to the per­son they are dat­ing, live on the air.

The new Is­raeli game show Con­tacts has found an even more dev­il­ishly in­ge­nious way of putting re­la­tion­ships to the test. Those tak­ing part in the pop­u­lar cul­ture quiz must ring some­one from their phone’s con­tacts list for an an­swer to a ques­tion even if they know it them­selves.

If their con­tact gets it wrong, they lose.

How­ever, an­a­lyst Vir­ginia Mouseler of the in­flu­en­tial The Wit web­site, which charts trends in the in­dus­try, said other pro­gram-mak­ers were us­ing tech­nol­ogy in less sen­sa­tional sit­u­a­tions.

She says fac­tual en­ter­tain­ment is mov­ing away from rais­ing goose­bumps to more of a feel-good vibe.

“Life coach­ing and self-help is emerg­ing as quite an im­por­tant fac­tor in quite a few of the new shows com­ing up,” she tells the MIP­for­mat arm of the gath­er­ing at Cannes on the French Riviera.

An up­com­ing BBC show In Your Ear pairs peo­ple go­ing through crises or ma­jor mo­ments in their lives with their own per­sonal gu­rus, who se­cretly give them ad­vice through an ear­piece.

The gu­rus range from psy­chol­o­gists to a real-life In­dian guru, an Ir­ish nun and Amer­i­can man­age­ment ex­perts. “Th­ese ‘guardian an­gels’ fol­low their sub­ject through the cam­era and give them the ben­e­fit of their sup­port in all sorts of sit­u­a­tions,” Mouseler says.

“The only catch is that they must never re­veal even to their near­est and dear­est that they are be­ing helped,” she adds.

Yel­low Card, a new Ja­panese show from Fuji Cre­ative, goes one step fur­ther and em­ploys a range of ex­perts – from doc­tors to lawyers and eti­quette ex­perts – to fol­low par­tic­i­pants and point out their fail­ings.

Rather than giv­ing them a shoul­der to lean on, ex­perts are there to give “a yel­low card to bad habits,” the com­pany says.

A fi­nan­cial ex­pert ticks off a woman as she shops, scoff­ing at her naive bar­gain­ing skills, while a lawyer in­ter­venes to stop a girl from giv­ing a V-sign on a selfie be­cause her fin­ger­prints could be stolen from the pic­ture.

As well as stern dress­ing­downs, the show “con­tains use­ful life-hacks and ad­vice,” Mouseler says.

Ger­man TV chan­nel RTL2 pulled on the heart­strings when it brought in health ex­perts ear­lier this year to come to the aid of chil­dren of obese par­ents in Help! My Par­ents are Fat! The hit show fea­tures an over­weight fa­ther who had not eaten salad in 20 years but signed up to change be­cause of the emo­tional pres­sure from his chil­dren.

The self-help theme con­tin­ued in the new Swedish show Sold! which fol­lows peo­ple try­ing to sell their homes on­line with­out help from es­tate agents.

If last-minute re­pairs are needed, they could do worse than turn to the con­tro­ver­sial show Den­mark ver­sus Eastern Europe, which pits lo­cal trades­men against mi­grant work­ers from poorer for­mer Soviet states.

Mouseler says the show has sparked huge de­bate in the Scan­di­na­vian coun­try where im­mi­gra­tion has be­come a hot po­lit­i­cal potato.

The qual­ity, price and safety of the work are ruth­lessly com­pared, she says, with hid­den cam­eras show­ing how dif­fer­ently both sets of work­ers are treated.

Mar­ried at First Sight’s con­tro­ver­sial cou­ple Ch­eryl and Jonathan are out­done by the lat­est crop of bound­ary-push­ing TV shows.

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