Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Reality or "Reality" ?

Last night, as is my want, I took myself upstairs to watch a TV channel of my own choice rather than the one chosen by the females downstairs.

I chose a reality TV programme.

"Children Fighting Cancer" on BBC1 at 10.35pm is about as real as it gets.

A documentary that does exactly what it says on the title the programme followed two 15 year old teenagers who were undergoing treatment for leukaemia, Charlotte with a rare form of the ailment had had two years of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment to no avail and had reached the final option, a bone marrow transplant.

Andrew, a young, fit, scottish hockey player had had his life brought to a screeching halt with the discovery of his leukaemia and was just starting the first of his chemotherapy treatments with high hopes that he would be among the majority of children cured by the advanced methods used now and that he would be back playing hockey by the end of the season.

Both young people were extremely frank about their illnesses and the way that they had affected their young lives, both were incredibly optomistic about their prognosis - although interviewing Andrew after six days of hospitalisation during his chemo treatment he had a quiet moment in which he confided to the camera whilst his parents were elsewhere that he was keeping upbeat for their sakes and that he had thought a lot about what might happen to him, after all he said "you don't want to die when you're fifteen do you ?"

He died six days later through infection caused by his treatment.

It was devastating TV to watch, especially when you are the same age as the parents and your children are the same age as those on screen, and you sit and watch those parents try to explain what happened on the day he died and when his father breaks down you find water running out of your face as well, not that you're crying because you are a bloke and blokes don't do that, but theres water leaking out of your face and it hurts to watch this but you do because this is reality and bad things happen sometimes to good people and life's not fair.

Charlotte had her bone marrow transplant and had to stay in isolation for weeks upon weeks while they waited for the donor marrow to kick start her healthy red blood cell manufacture, for 21 days nothing happened and it was looking like her last throw of the dice might fail when suddenly the blood count started to rise and after 26 days she was declared fit to leave her isolation room and to all intents and purposes was "cured" although she will live with continuous assessments for the rest of her life and the knowledge that the treatment has left her infertile.

A harrowing 45 minutes but when it was finished you felt privileged to have watched and once again the BBC's method of commissioning non-commercially viable TV programmes had produced a compelling documentary.

And afterwards I went back downstairs to find the family watching Big Brother.

Big fookin Brother, the "reality" TV programme that takes a couple of dozen no-marks with a desire to have three minutes of fame, get into nightclubs for free, and have their pictures splashed across the numerous shite-mags that fill the newsagents shelves these days, the programme where nothing happens 24 hours a day and yet fookin gormless, dateless idiots sit and watch and then pretend that it was spellbinding when discussing it with work colleagues tomorrow - it was on live this morning on one of our TV sets and the camera showed everyone asleep in their bedroom, gripping TV and I just don't understand why I think its crap and why Channel 4 shouldn't lose their licence for foisting this junk on the screens for several months of the year.


But Why? said...

The triviality of Big Brother feels like a body blow after being exposed to such cruel realities, doesn't it?

Gary said...

To be honest it goes beyond trivial and on into the "how stupid do they think we are" category - nice to see its getting hammered in the ratings by a talent competition though.