11 episodes

Journalists Pandora Sykes and Sirin Kale explore how reality TV shapes our lives and the ethical questions raised by the format, featuring iconic shows and stars.

Unreal: A Critical History of Reality TV BBC Radio 4

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 262 Ratings

Journalists Pandora Sykes and Sirin Kale explore how reality TV shapes our lives and the ethical questions raised by the format, featuring iconic shows and stars.

    10. A Format In Crisis & The Future of Reality TV: Love Island, Part 2

    10. A Format In Crisis & The Future of Reality TV: Love Island, Part 2

    Sirin Kale and Pandora Sykes look at how one of TV’s most popular shows became mired in tragedy and controversy. Where did it all go wrong? And is this the end for reality TV? Featuring interviews with Megan Barton-Hanson, Dr Alex George, Jake Cornish, Rachel Finni and many more.

    Producer: Hannah Hufford
    Executive Producer: Pandora Sykes
    Executive Editor: James Cook
    Content Producer: Hannah Robins
    Technical Producer: Giles Aspen

    Archive credits:
    The Victoria Derbyshire Show, BBC
    Love Island, ITV Studios/Lifted Entertainment/Motion Content Group
    This Morning, Granada Television
    Caroline Flack: Her Life and Death, Curious Films
    1Xtra Talks with Richie Brave, BBC
    Sophie Gradon On Internet Trolls, Radio Aire
    Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee meeting 14 September 2021, Parliamentary Recording Unit
    The Great British Bake Off, Love Productions
    The Voice, Wall to Wall
    Big Brother, Endemol UK

    • 52 min
    9. The Influencer Sausage Factory: Love Island, Part 1

    9. The Influencer Sausage Factory: Love Island, Part 1

    Pandora Sykes and Sirin Kale analyse how Love Island became a finishing school for influencers and a commercial juggernaut through its association with fast fashion. Featuring interviews with Megan Barton-Hanson, Dr Alex George, and many more.

    Producer: Hannah Hufford
    Executive Producer: Pandora Sykes
    Executive Editor: James Cook
    Content Producer: Hannah Robins
    Technical Producer: Giles Aspen

    Archive credits:
    Love Island, ITV Studios/Lifted Entertainment/Motion Content Group
    Sausages, Adam Buxton
    Trying on Love Island x I Saw it First outfits… is it worth the money!?, Roxxsaurus
    Ethical Fashion, Brett Staniland
    The Diary of a CEO with Steven Bartlett, Steven Bartlett
    Let’s Talk Business: Meet My Manager (Finally), Molly Mae Hague
    Blindboy Undestroys the World, Rumpus Media for BBC 3
    Olivia Attwood video on influencers flying to Dubai for work

    • 46 min
    8. Lifestyles of The Mega-Rich: The Real Housewives & Selling Sunset

    8. Lifestyles of The Mega-Rich: The Real Housewives & Selling Sunset

    Sirin Kale and Pandora Sykes slip into the moneyed world of the Californian 0.01% with the help of a Real Housewife and a Selling Sunset realtor, to examine property porn, toxic wealth, and why audiences want schadenfreude. Featuring interviews with Real Housewife's Taylor Armstrong, Selling Sunset's Mary Fitzgerald, plus the show creators and more.

    Producer: Hannah Hufford
    Executive Producer: Pandora Sykes
    Executive Editor: James Cook
    Content Producer: Hannah Robins
    Technical Producer: Giles Aspen

    Archive credits:
    The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Evolution Media
    Dallas, Lorimar Productions
    Desperate Housewives, Cherry Productions
    Selling Sunset, Done and Done Productions
    ABC News, ABC

    • 53 min
    7. The British Docusoap: The Only Way Is Essex & Made In Chelsea

    7. The British Docusoap: The Only Way Is Essex & Made In Chelsea

    Pandora Sykes and Sirin Kale look at how these BAFTA-winning reality shows became national treasures and explore why the ingredients for a good reality show are the same, wherever they are set. Featuring interviews with Spencer Matthews, Georgia Toffolo, James Lock, plus many more.

    Producer: Hannah Hufford
    Executive Producer: Pandora Sykes
    Executive Editor: James Cook
    Content Producer: Hannah Robins
    Technical Producer: Giles Aspen

    Archive credits:
    The British Academy Television Awards: 2011, Whizz Kid Entertainment
    The Only Way is Essex, Lime Pictures
    Made in Chelsea, Monkey Kingdom
    Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Hot Sauce
    The Reality of Reality TV with Fleur East, Bauer Media
    What We Don't Post, Nicola Hughes and Tiffany Watson
    I’ve Been There: Amy Childs and Cosmetic Surgery, Nine Lives Media

    • 51 min
    6. Climbing The Ladder: Keeping Up With The Kardashians

    6. Climbing The Ladder: Keeping Up With The Kardashians

    Sirin Kale and Pandora Sykes delve into the story of America’s First Family, the Kardashian-Jenners, and how they leveraged reality tv to redefine beauty ideals and create an entirely new category of uber-celebrity. Featuring interviews with Keeping Up With The Kardashian's executive producer for all 20 seasons, plus @NorisBlackBook creator, and many more.

    Producer: Hannah Hufford
    Executive Producer: Pandora Sykes
    Executive Editor: James Cook
    Content Producer: Hannah Robins
    Technical Producer: Giles Aspen

    Archive credits:
    Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Bunim-Murray Productions
    Oprah's Next Chapter, Harpo Studios
    X17onlineVideo's video of Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian with paparazzi
    Kim Kardashian’s Business Advice, Variety

    • 50 min
    5. The Birth of Scripted Reality: Laguna Beach & The Hills

    5. The Birth of Scripted Reality: Laguna Beach & The Hills

    Pandora Sykes and Sirin Kale tread a nostalgic path back to their teenage years and The Hills, which birthed reality’s first wave of lifestyle influencers. Featuring interviews with Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag, and many more.

    Producer: Hannah Hufford
    Executive Producer: Pandora Sykes
    Executive Editor: James Cook
    Content Producer: Hannah Robins
    Technical Producer: Giles Aspen

    Archive credits:
    The OC, Wonderland Sound and Vision
    Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, Go Go Luckey Productions
    The Hills, Done and Done Productions
    Nightline, ABC News Productions
    Velvet’s Edge with Kelly Henderson, Nashville Podcast Network

    • 50 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
262 Ratings

262 Ratings

ellen95j ,

Excellent and informative series!

What a fantastic docuseries! Very well researched and presented, with carefully chosen audio clips from the shows discussed. Fun yet challenging - well worth a listen. I was hooked for the 10 episodes.

sash1579 ,

3 episodes in a and hooked!

This is brilliant. So well researched. Interesting. Great presenters! 5*s!

Mimberley18 ,

Phenomenal

I’ve been looking for a new podcast to sink my teeth into and this was it! It hits the right tone between nostalgic (going back to the 2000s with Big Brother), while also raising important questions about how reality TV mirrors our society. It was an uncomfortable listen at times - so many things I never thought of while watching these shows!

Top Podcasts In Society & Culture

BBC Radio 4
Fearne Cotton
Jake Humphrey
The Telegraph
iHeartPodcasts
Apple TV+ / Pineapple Street Studios

You Might Also Like

Justice for Dumb Women
BBC Radio 5 live
Margaret Cabourn-Smith
Elizabeth Day
Jessie Ware
BBC Radio 4