chapter  4
Vox populi: the voice of the people
Pages 16

Arguably, the single most transformational feature of television in the early 21st century has been the emergence of members of the public as stars in their favourite shows. This has been principally through the agency of so-called ‘Reality TV’ – to which we shall return in detail in Chapter 12 – and also through the technological advances that have allowed increased interactivity and the growing deployment of ‘user-generated content’ (UGC). These mechanisms have helped generate a profound recalibration of the relationship between broadcasters and audiences, with the latter apparently taking a more active role in evaluating and forming programme content. It could be argued that these changes were forced by increased competition and the audience fragmentation caused by multichannel TV and new media platforms. But there was no obvious corollary between those market pressures and the newly discovered delight in the quotidian experience. Indeed, much of television is still driven by the exotic and extreme, and an insatiable appetite for celebrity culture. But what is new is the widespread hunger for the validation of normal life by the passing spotlight of TV – the fulfilment of Andy Warhol’s 1968 prediction that ‘In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.’1