Find the article ‘Reality TV: the Big Brother phenomenon’ by Colin Sparks in International Socialism, April 2007 at

Read the introduction and the sections entitled ‘Really real?’; ‘Critical responses’ and ‘In conclusion’.

Now answer the following questions:

  1. What types of programme are included under the heading ‘reality TV’?
  2. “The participants in the non-celebrity show are presented to us as a cross-section of ‘ordinary’ people reflecting contemporary British society.” Is this true?
  3. Identify six ways in which ‘Big Brother’ is not real.
  4. How is ‘Big Brother’ different to other reality TV programmes?
  5. What are the two possible reactions identified to alienation at work?
  6. Why does the Marxist author suggest that becoming a celebrity is so attractive to workers?
  7. Why does the author conclude that “Big Brother offers no challenge at all to capitalism”?