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Exclusive Reality Check’s EP Nick Murray Talks About What To Expect From The Series

nick-murrayNick Murray from Cordell Jigsaw is the Executive Producer of Reality Check the new reality TV panel show on the ABC. Here we talk about what he thinks is reality, whether it has now got some long fought for credibility and whether they are going to put the spotlight on the big Australian reality shows on the series.

Reality Ravings: Congratulations on the show, and I have been saying for years that there should be a show like this considering there are a squillion panel shows about sport and reality TV ratings are just as good.

Nick Murray: In fact better. One of the points I have been trying to make to everyone is reality television is by far the most popular form of entertainment in the world and in Australia.

RR: Why do you think it has taken so long for a show to come along to put the evil eye on reality TV? 

NM: It is hard for the commercial networks to do it as sometimes they don’t want to talk about anything that is on another network. They don’t want to promote their shows or the other way around they don’t want to be critical or potentially critical of a show that is on their network. The shows are such huge investments for them, they want to be careful that they are not wrecking their own investments in this kind of television. At network like the ABC there was some reluctance and we had been talking to them about it for a couple of years now. They needed to get their head around the issue of would their audience watch something that is not otherwise on the ABC? Would an ABC audience enjoy the show?

RR: There is this myth perpetuated in the Reality Check promo and in Tom Ballard’s opening monologue in the first episode…

NM: I know everyone is saying that ABC has reality shows on but they don’t make any though. Sure they have some weird English reality shows on ABC2.

RR: Well there is My Transexual Summer and one of my personal favourites Catfish showing at the moment. 

NM: There is some weird shit out there. Arguably the first reality TV show Sylvania Waters that was on the ABC. OVer the years they have dabbled in it. In fact the ABC had a show that I think was a reality show, The Colony, and that was absolutely a reality show. It was a whole lot of families seeing who could cope best in living in a house from 1900.

RR: What sort of balance are you trying to find with the show. Are you finding it difficult to balance the critical, with the funny as well as showcasing the positives of the genre? 

NM: We are obviously looking for the funny, and we’re looking for the good conversation. The balance is how much local versus some of the weird stuff from international and that’s where the funny versus the conversation. We are trying to make it entertaining and informative. The main balancing act we have to deal with which is the hard bit is, is probably that half of our audience have not seen the shows we are talking about. So when we had the clip from Keeping Up With The Kardashians last week the majority of the audience has not seen an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. There is going to be some viewers that are very familiar with the format but there will be some people who have seen it and there will be some people who will hate it.

RR: Are you going to put the spotlight on the major Australian reality TV shows? And is that difficult because you are having producers come onto Reality Check to talk about the tricks of the trade?

NM: We are trying not to talk about the actual show they make. If we got someone on that had worked on The Bachelor we would be unlikely to ask anything about The Bachelor on the week they are on. That is a little bit different if they used to work on something and they don’t work on it anymore and we might ask some questions about that. We are not trying to catch people out, and we are not trying to get people to cast judgement on their own shows, and we are not trying to ambush people.

RR: What topics can we expect to see in the upcoming episodes of Reality Check?

NM: If you hypothesised about what we are going to talk about on the show you would probably be right. We will touch on every major Australian reality format that is in production this year. We are in a great position this year that for the first year in a long time that every single week of ratings there will be a reality show on every commercial network in prime time. This year all three networks will have reality shows on until the end of ratings.

RR: I did not know that. Thanks I have learnt something today. 

NM: Reality is incredibly strong at the moment. The audiences are strong and in some spots around the world talents shows are flagging but other then that it is a very strong genre. There is the fantastic stuff on SEVEN, House Rules, MKR and The X Factor. They will all get touched on at some point. The Block is hot at the moment we will touch on that. We might also talk generally about casting and talk about single contestants like MC versus casting duo’s like House Rules.  It is a very broad genre and there is some disagreement amongst us about what is reality. Even to us, for example, The Logies put Bondi Rescue [ed. note: CZJ produce it] into the reality category when it is an observational documentary series. It is not a manipulated, constructed world at all.

RR: What do you see as the difference between Ob Doc and reality TV? As you are saying Bondi Rescue is not manipulated or constructed?

NM: Bondi Rescue is like RPA as it is following real people doing an actual job. Whereas Being Lara Bingle, The Kardashians, The Real Housewives of Melbourne, those kind of shows are constructed. Lara Bingle did not live in the house she was filmed in. In Real Housewives those women are not having lunch together except the producers have made them have lunch together. They don’t even know each other. When they get them together they just let it happen, I guess. This is a construct. The things that are happening on Bondi Rescue or in an emergency room are happening anyway regardless of whether there are cameras there. Real Housewives are not arguing with each other except when the cameras are there. It does not really matter if the audience thinks all these things are real then that is one of the tests for reality.

RR: With the popularity of reality TV, is it a bit chicken or the egg, as are people watching it because there is nothing else on and that is why the ratings are so high? Or are we just huge fans? Also I noticed on Reality Check’s first episode that there is still a bit of sniggering about it and that it does not have the credibility of other genres. Do you think reality TV is now a credible genre and should be treated with respect?

NM: Absolutely. I suppose that is part of the point of the series. I guess there is some sniggering and I suppose there is some sniggering from some of the pure drama producers who sneer down there noses at it. But a big episode of a reality show will rate three times that of a big episode of a drama will rate. I think that indicates that the audience has a preference to watch real people doing something. If there was only reality on one channel you would find it would out rate what is on the other channels.  I think it is actually it is well made television and that is why we have actual producers on the show. We [Reality Check] are looking at how is this made? In a drama or comedy  I am really happy to evoke an emotional response by making them laugh or cry. In reality people are doing that by the shots they have chosen, the music, or the way it is edited. It is equally clever that they can elicit an emotional response. I think it is a valid form of entertainment and we do it really well here in Australia.

RR: I presume the show is going to examine why the genre is so popular and why people have gravitated towards the medium.

NM: That will be touched on in a lot of different ways across the series. We may not ask it as bluntly as that but when we say “why does this work” that is looking at exactly that issue. Why are people drawn to it? Why is that sequence constructed like that? The reason it is constructed like that is to tell as story in a particular way and that is what the audience wants.

RR: What have you learnt since being EP of Reality Check?

NM: There is a lot of thought that goes into them. If something happens on those shows then normally someone has thought about it. The odd lucky break does occur. We will talking about what happens when a lucky break or chance steps in and what ensues. Generally a lot of thought has gone into it. For example how to put people under pressure on The Block. We have Amity Dry on the next episode. That is something universal to all the contestants we have talked to, without being actually manipulated, well sometimes they are actually manipulated, they are put under a pressure situation and out of that comes fantastic television occurs. The thought that goes into the casting is incredible and it is the same as casting for a drama you want a broad range of people. It is a big ask and there are people that specialise in it, and nearly without exception they are very very good at putting together who we love and hate on the show. MKR and  House Rules is probably more about the characters in the show rather then the skills they are exhibiting. Therefore that drama that you are seeing is being driven by a fantastic set of casting decisions that occurred before the show started. There is such a huge number of people that work on these shows they are much bigger shows  then any drama that are being made in Australia. Huge editing teams and great big production teams and people in houses 24 hours a day looking after what is going on in the houses and very complex production equation.

RR: That is one of the myths around reality TV is the fact that it is cheap. Well some of it cheap but as you know it is big business and big profits. 

NM: Just the number of episodes involved they are massive investments. Good television, generally is not cheap, whether it is drama, reality or comedy. It is very hard to make good TV on the cheap.

RR: You’ve watched lots reality tv whilst you have been researching the show, what TV show would you go on regardless of talent?

NM: The Amazing Race. I love the Amazing Race and I thinks it is incredible and would be a great experience.

Tonight on Reality Check, Dicko, Amity Dry and Marion Farrelly will be on the panel along with the host Tom Ballard.

Reality Check on Wednesday nights on ABC at 9pm.




August 20, 2014   4 Comments

The Block – Dee Hits Back At Her Online Critics

Dee and Darren might have won $20,000 in a week but Dee at the moment is the villian on The Block. This is  has been due to her strong personality and her blow ups with her husband Darren.

And now she makes some interesting points as to why she is not Ms Popular on the show. She says it is about people don’t like seeing strong women on their screens and also that old reality TV chestnut editing.

In the Daily Telegraph she states:

Deanne has hit back saying some viewers can’t handle strong women on TV.

“The things that I say on The Block and the way I get things done — if Daz was saying them or another guy, (viewer reaction) would be ‘isn’t he great, he’s so strong and assertive.

“It is really easy and lazy to jump to the conclusion that I’m a b**** or a b***breaker just because I’m getting stuff done.

“I am a really direct and honest person and you have to be tough sometimes to get things done (on The Block).

“I feel like there are probably a lot of football people watching Daz and I. Maybe they have got some views about how women should be and behave that I don’t agree with.”

Deanne says viewers also don’t fully appreciate the pressure all the contestants are under on The Block.

“You’re under pressure and you’re tired and when you’re tired you get irritable,” Deanne says. “You only have to scratch a little bit and people blow up.

“There has been feedback that I’m not helping and I’m not contributing (doing any building work) but that is a very deliberate decision on our part,” Deanne says.

“We went into The Block having renovated our own house so we knew what our strengths and weaknesses are.

“My strength is coming up with the concept, designing the rooms, furnishing them, making all the choices about art — which is a lot of work especially in the time frame.

“Daz obviously has all the building and all the trade skills.”

Darren has copped criticism for not standing up to Deanne. Even Nine has got in on the act tweeting “Note to Darren: Always listen to the big boss ie. Keith Dee.”

The former Collingwood and Sydney Swans AFL champion rejects the charge, saying scenes have been selectively edited by the show’s producers.

“They don’t show the end of (a clash) where we kiss and make up — then everyone would have a different opinion,” Darren says.

“I think (producers have) picked things out. We understand it is a TV show. They’ve got to make it interesting and entertaining.

“We laugh at the arguments and fights we had. They play music behind it to get everyone sucked in.

“We had our issues throughout the series but I respect Dee and what she does and she respects me and what I do.

“It is refreshing to have someone who tells you exactly how it is … rather than skirting around an issue.

“We’re probably the most competitive couple and the most direct and honest with each other. Some people like that and some people hate that.”

August 20, 2014   18 Comments

Dancing With The Stars – Ricki-Lee Coulter To Be A Contestant

ricki lee

Ricki-Lee is getting ready for another stint on reality TV, this time on Dancing With The Stars. She has previously been on Australian Idol and It Takes Two. She should do OK as she dances when she performs.

Also being on TV each week will remind fans she has an album coming out, or probably released while she is on the show.

Other names rumoured to be on the show is Pauly Fenech, Shannon Noll, Ash Hart (a model) and Kyly Clark.

Source: Daily Telegraph

August 19, 2014   3 Comments

The Amazing Race Australia – Christie Certainly Was Not Zen

Aston looked like she was glad to get eliminated by the end of this leg in Thailand considering she had to put up with a bitching and moaning Christie for the whole time.

Not sure if it was the editing but Christie moaned from being woken up too early. Hellooo there is a leg to run and Aston’s anxiety about this might have been because another team had slept in the previous week.

Thankfully the massage in Krabi shut her up but then it was onto the beach to drill coconuts but it was all too hard and she even considered climbing the rocks. But no one look at that “I can’t climb very high” and she was back drilling the coconuts. Props to Aston for not bashing her over the head with one.

The other not very popular team is John and Murray, again New Zealanders, who are not there to make friends. Sure they came in first to the pitstop and got that holiday in Europe but they U-Turned Sally and Jarrod along the way and managed to have a tiff with Jono and Emily. The New Zealand mums will be there only friends as they gave them the express pass that they had to give away by the end of the third leg.

They might find when the going gets tough they will have no alliances to help them out.

The Amazing Race Australia Monday nights at 8.40pm on SEVEN.

August 19, 2014   24 Comments

The X Factor Australia – And Now There Are Eleven

With XOX and Younger Then Yesterday being bottom two tonight it might mean next year they might give up on constructing their own boy and girl groups. There were better groups sent home, for example Paris Inc and Majikhoney.

Danni Minogue looked upset and shocked when she realised that two of her groups were in the bottom two after losing Trill last week.

Younger Then Yesterday were again woeful tonight when they were singing for their life, so Redfoo, Rona and Nat B let Danni off the hook by voting for them to go before Danni had to cast her vote.

Did the right act get sent home?



August 18, 2014   51 Comments