Written by TV

If In Doubt Call It “Real”

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the lazy trope that had invaded television titling meaning that seemingly every factual programme was titled “The Real…”.
Since I wrote that piece, we’ve also had:
Battle of Britain: The Real Story
Britain’s Real Monarch
Real Wolf Kids
Real Crime
Real Housewives of New Jersey
Real Rescues
SAS – The Real Story
The Real CSI
The Real Da Vinci Code [sic] The Real Goldfinger
The Real Italian Job
The Real Swiss Family Robinson
The Real Vikings
The Real Bonnie and Clyde
The Real Spooks
And of course Dickinson’s Real Deal.
There’s a pretty straightforward forumula in place. Take popular film/TV series/book/subject to which you have no rights. Add the words “The Real..” to the front of it, and hey presto! You have a documentary title that in no way infringes anyone’s copyright, that catches the eye in newspaper listings or TV EPGs, and alerts viewers in the laziest manner possible.
I’m sure that some of those programmes were actually quite good. But I won’t watch anything called “The Real…” because you’re creatively bankrupt if you title your programme that way. Sorry. But that’s the way it is.
I mention all this because of two “Reals” in the news. And neither is Madrid.
The Sunday Mirror has alleged that – shock horror – not everything on The Real Hustle is quite as “real” as it portrays.
And Channel 4 has been heavily promoting its latest “Real” programme: The Real King’s Speech. It ticks all the boxes, and in the week of the Oscars!
I’m sure that this is a carefully crafted film that was commissioned many months ago, and not huriedly rushed into production when it became obvious how big a hit a the film was. [Goes away and Googles…] Nope. In fact it was shot at the start of this month.
(Nobody says that fast-turnaround documentaries can’t be good, but I do wonder if that’s the best way to make historical ones).
[Update] I see that Melvyn Bragg is making a major 20-part documentary entitled “The Reel History of Britain”. It’ll be history told through:
archive material (brilliant stuff from the BFI, the BBC and other independent documentary filmmakers such as Mitchell & Kenyon in the North West of England at the beginning of the last century) and, we hope, photographs, recollections, diary entries and maybe even film and video from people around the country, we will show the real history of Britain.
I’m inclined to give this a pass since it’s essentially a double pun.