We should all have such woes

Sunday Express - - Jennifer Selway -

RI’M of­ten asked if I’d go on a TV re­al­ity show “with all your ex­pe­ri­ence of TV, Rich”. I usu­ally man­age to stop laugh­ing af­ter about five min­utes.

The grave­yard of public rep­u­ta­tions is lit­tered with the shat­tered re­mains of peo­ple who thought they could out­smart the pro­duc­ers. Once you’ve taken the pro­gramme’s shilling and stepped into the Big House, Jun­gle, or what­ever, you are the mere play­thing of ex­ec­u­tives who’d make a con­trol freak look like the model of lais­sez faire.

The BBC’s Bake Off might be an ex­cep­tion; it’s about in­di­vid­ual skill and tal­ent. Not much room for ma­nip­u­la­tion of con­tes­tants there, surely?

Tell that to Diana Beard, vil­i­fied this week af­ter be­ing shown on Bake Off “sab­o­tag­ing” ri­val Iain Wat­ters’s ice cream pud­ding; re­mov­ing it from a freezer, leav­ing it to melt.

He stormed off and was elim­i­nated. Great telly. Ex­cept… fu­ri­ous Diana says she was stitched up in the edit. “They de­lib­er­ately made it look as if I’d left his dessert out of the freezer for sev­eral min­utes,” she an­grily protests. “It was 40 seconds!” The BBC now ad­mits Diana was blame­less, but too late. “Peo­ple are say­ing all kinds of nasty things about me now,” she protests.

“Re­al­ity” pro­grammes are about as real as a magic show. Smoke and mir­rors, il­lu­sion and dis­tor­tion. Watch and en­joy. But take part at your peril.

JSAMANTHA DIS­NEY is a 32-yearold woman from Rams­gate in Kent. She was whisked away on a week-long pack­age hol­i­day to Tu­nisia by her boyfriend Chris for a ro­man­tic week dur­ing which he pro­posed. Sa­man­tha is a ner­vous flier and needed med­i­ca­tion to get on the plane at Gatwick.

When the time came to fly home, Sa­man­tha re­fused to leave for the air­port say­ing she was too fright­ened to fly. “I com­pletely freaked out. When we told the hol­i­day reps they read us a dis­claimer say­ing if we didn’t get on the coach to the air­port then we were not their re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

This is what hap­pened next: 1) Sa­man­tha’s mum flew out to “res­cue” her. 2) They found a ferry cross­ing from Tu­nis to France but Sa­man­tha had an­other panic at­tack and re­fused to board.

R3) They fi­nally got on a ferry to Mar­seilles where they boarded a train to Paris be­fore tak­ing the Eurostar to Ash­ford, Kent.

They ar­rived home af­ter more than a month in Tu­nisia. Said Sa­man­tha: “It ru­ined what should have been an in­cred­i­ble hol­i­day. Chris pro­posed and we were re­ally cel­e­brat­ing. “This was just a blight on the whole thing. We missed out on work for a month and we were drain­ing our bank bal­ances. It was ab­so­lutely aw­ful. In to­tal, we must have spent an ex­tra £5,000.”

Just thought you might en­joy read­ing about Sa­man­tha’s hor­ri­ble ex­pe­ri­ence at a time when all hell is break­ing loose in the Mid­dle East and thou­sands are dy­ing. Al­to­gether now: “Aah, did­dums.” DID you know that the car tax disc will be­come his­tory this Oc­to­ber? No? Me nei­ther. Why

have the Driver and Ve­hi­cle Li­cens­ing Agency kept so quiet about it? The tax disc sys­tem’s served us well since 1921. A pass­ing cop­per or traf­fic war­den only had to glance at a parked-up car’s wind­screen to see if it was taxed. Now the whole sys­tem will rely on state road­side se­cu­rity (ie, spy) cam­eras and com­puter records. Sorry but li­cen­ce­plate recog­ni­tion cam­eras are no­to­ri­ously un­re­li­able. So are gov­ern­ment data­bases. I pre­dict chaos, foul-ups

and fraud.

Pic­ture: REX

SOME celebri­ties look ei­ther awk­ward or over-pleased with them­selves when fea­tured on BBC1’s ex­cel­lent Who Do You Think You Are? (Friends tell me I looked per­ma­nently semi-stunned on mine, which took me back to my early Amer­i­can Pu­ri­tan roots). But...

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