With Television broadcasters constantly having to push the boundaries to keep their viewers interested they are more often than not introducing characters of a very vulnerable nature to our screens, sometimes with quite distressing consequences.
With this years X Factor run just beginning, the production team has promised to boost the provision of psychological help throughout this years series. The show has already featured 21 year old Scott James who suffers with such severe Aspergers syndrome he hadn’t left the house in seven years. When asked if he thought contestants like James could take the strain of reality television, X Factor judge Louis Walsh told the Radio Times :
‘”I don’t think they can, if I’m honest. People don’t realise the pressure that these acts are under. It’s very gruelling, and it’s 10 weeks of very intense performance. Everything you say and do is being watched.” But Walsh denies it is unfair to allow James to appear. “Nobody forces anybody to go to an audition. Is he under too much pressure? I think it has to be his choice.”
With the daddy of reality T.V shows only two weeks away from the final, it’s difficult not to wonder which Big Brother 2009 contestant is going to break down first. However, Phil Edgar Jones, the creative director of the Big Brother producer Brighter Pictures, part of Endemol, explained that the well-being of the contestants is of the utmost importance. “We are very mindful that we are taking people into an unfamiliar world,” he says. Potential housemates are subjected to three interviews with various levels of producers and undergo sessions with a psychologist and a psychiatrist to see if they have the ability to take the pressures.
Edgar Jones points out that support for Big Brother contestants continues after they have left, with counselling offered immediately and then six months down the line. However, how they deal with things is down to those taking part – “ultimately people have to take responsibility for themselves,” he says.