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'I don't know where documentary is going, but at the moment it is fast becoming a soap opera in order to keep it's place in the schedules' Molly Dinton.

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Introduction

* Natalie Robinson 4/1/04 * ' I don't know where documentary is going, but at the moment it is fast becoming a soap opera in order to keep it's place in the schedules' Molly Dinton. Dinton believes that the documentary genre is changing in order to survive. This evolution of the genre could be justified, and enables the 'diverse genre' to still be able to attain fixtures on the British television broadcasting stations. The statement of the documentary 'fast becoming a soap opera', can to some extent be supported. Currently on British television, there has been a swarm of reality TV programmes and Docu- soaps, which can be seen as a polluted hybrid of the documentary genre. These programmes are noted as successful in attracting an audience, therefore, the TV institutions are more likely to exploit these wining formulas of the genre and schedule the newer, more popular American format of documentary rather than the traditional documentary formula that aims to construct a social criticism and catalyse change, which often has a stigma of smelling 'of dust and boredom' (Alberto Cavalcanti). Institutions are able to have a minimal risk of financial failure with docu- soaps and reality TV programmes, because as well having a high rating of audience consumption, the programmes are financially very cheap to produce. ...read more.

Middle

Reality TV combines the commercial success of tabloid content with a public service mode of address. The genre includes 'The Salon', 'Big Brother', 'Police Camera Action' and 'Wife Swap', which are all hugely popular. Big Brother had a staggering 45, 000 people audition to be on the programme. These programmes are essentially very alike in comparison to Soap Operas. Often in reality TV, contrasting personalities are deliberately selected or an arisen conflict sensationalised; also many of the programmes are edited in order to capture comedy moments. Moreover in the Docu- Soap 'Driving School', there is evidence to suggest that many of the sequences, or body language/ facial expressions in the programme were faked in order to create further dramatic effect. Through sensationalising episodes, these programmes are able to compete with the story lines of many soaps, and attract viewers who enjoy much of the dramatisation that occurs in the soap operas. It also serves to entertain the audience. Reality TV is very much like many soaps. This is achieved by using editing. The Directors are able to create a persona or character of the participants, that the audience will either love or loathe, through selecting which footage to air and which to discard. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is mainly because the mass audience prefer docu- soaps and reality TV, which are closely related to soap operas. This is because these factions of the documentary genre entertain, and cause diversion and escapism for the audience, who are easily able to relax in their leisure time and watch the light- entertainment programmes. They are not presented with a programme that requires the mind to work too hard after a draining day. The broadcasting institutions generally broadcast, what is demanded from the public and what is financially better for their business, making the way clear for further reality shows that resemble the soaps to be produced. Perhaps the film verite documentaries are not as popular as the hybrid genres because in general they require a higher intellect/ socio- economic group to follow the programme or be interested in the issues investigated. This form of documentary perhaps has ' outlived its usefulness and no longer has a very clear significance.' The vast docu- soaps and reality television programmes are scheduled at peak times, because they appeal to a wider audience where as the occasional documentary is scheduled mainly in the late eve. Therefore it is true that documentaries are 'fast becoming soap operas in order to survive. ...read more.

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