One headline in the German rainbow press caught my eye today. It talked about a new reality TV series a private channel planned and was dubbed as Baby Big Brother. Apparently, the channel intended to install 30 cameras in the maternity ward of a hospital to produce a show that brings the reality of pregnancy and birth to the TV viewer. Germany tends to be cautious with privacy of individuals and that topic brought politicians on the agenda to request a production stop until they can clarify what exactly will be filmed, how much money parents will be paid and so on.
According to the article the format is not new. The show is a copy of a successful UK show called “One Born Every Minute“. Three seasons were completed in the UK and aired. I had no idea that the UK had a reality show in a maternity ward. Here is what their website states:
“One Born Every Minute celebrates what it really feels like to become a parent, by taking a bustling maternity hospital and filling it with forty cameras.
Filming from the reception desk to the neo-natal ward; from the operating theatre to the birthing pool, this ground-breaking and tender new series observes the dramatic, emotional and often funny moments that go hand in hand with bringing a new life into the world, from the perspective of the soon-to-be parents and family, as well as the hospital staff.”
I really can’t get myself to check out even a single episode. Given our situation it would first of all be very difficult to watch scenes of maternity wards, newborns and deliveries. But at the same time I cannot imagine that they would really produce a realistic and high quality documentary about this topic. I do not know Channel 4, but the German channel certainly does not fall into that category based on the other shows they produce. Given shows like jungle camp, big brother et al. I keep wondering how low television programming has sunk. Or is it just a reflection of the state of society and what the majority of people wants to watch? All of the similar formats in the past decade were presented as realistic, but later it turned out that everything had been heavily scripted and cut together to be most effective in drawing higher viewer numbers. Is this the new low point? I wonder who participates in such a format that makes one of the most intimate and personal experiences of a couple a public enjoyment act.
The question is what I can expect of a show like this? From reading about it my expectation is very low. But I cannot watch it to confirm my suspicion so this is all speculation. I only wonder if something like this could help break the silence about the many pregnancies that end in losses, e.g. miscarriage or stillbirth or neonatal death. If they filmed three seasons over as many years, it seems likely that some of the participants would have suffered such a tragedy. I highly doubt they would pick that couple for an episode to be aired. Although I only quickly browsed the episode guide, it seems to confirm that most shows have happy endings.