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12:00pm on Saturday, 3rd December, 2005:

Space Cadets


There's a new Channel 4 TV reality TV show about to be broadcast, Space Cadets.

A few weeks ago, we had adverts on TV inviting people apply to become trainee astronauts for a reality TV show. I thought this was a little odd at the time, given the physical demands required of astronauts and the length of training involved, but hey, if they want to make a TV show about it then why not?

It turns out it's a hoax. They took the applicants, screened them for gullibility, and are sending them to a former RAF base in Suffolk rather than outer space. It's probably cost them so much to kit this place out that actually it would have been cheaper actually to send them to space, but then that wouldn't have been so much fun.

Fun, yes...

Basically, the programme-makers (Zeppotron, ie. Endomol UK) are playing a huge practical joke on the contestants, with viewers expected to revel in how stupid the contestants are being made to look for falling for it. Ha bleeding ha. I hate practical jokes, and the fact that Zeppotron is paying the contestants £5,000 for each day they stay in "space" is no compensation. The company deserves to have its head sued off when the contestants emerge, irrespective of whatever contracts it had them sign. It completely misrepresented what was going to happen, and its being "entertainment" is no defence. What next, will they drug them and we can all laugh at their hilarious spaced-out antics?

It just isn't right.

The only good I can see coming from the whole event is that in future people may be less eager to appear on reality TV shows in case they're a hoax. The programme-makers have shown that they are willing to scam members of the public who trust them, so there may be some effect on the number of people applying to participate in future programmes.

Like that's going to happen...

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).