As contestants become savvier and productions become slicker and more contrived, few reality shows have any basis in reality any more. With more weight given to the histrionics and arguments between participants over any actual challenge, reality television owes more to the soap opera format than anything else. With cleverly leaked stories to the press about off screen drama to add substance and backstory, it takes little examination to uncover the heavily scripted narrative producers have set out for the public.
One show that has stuck to its grueling schedule from its inception is I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Every year without fail, contestants speak of their shock at the ‘reality’ of the show. Most participants, especially those who have participated in other reality formats, are shocked that what you see on television is what you get. As the reality of the task at hand dawns on contestants you begin to witness an interesting dynamic unfold.
Without much fanfare, a structure begins to form among campmates and for the most part, contestants pool their resources together and a strong ethos of teamwork is formed incredibly quickly – hunger is a great motivator.
A Camp United!
This year’s series of I’m a Celebrity has been notable for the harmony and spirit of campmates. In the face of hunger, low energy, a hostile environment and daily trials; campmates have kept their spirits up and a firm team bond has grown between participants. It’s also interesting to note that the only real argument involved Edwina Currie and Kendra Wilkinson – two seasoned performers; one, a reality TV star and the other a politician, with a solid CV in reality TV appearances. Regardless, the strength of spirit amongst the rest of the campmates ensured the spat was quashed before there was any chance of it unbalancing the camp.
Learning on the Job
The most interesting aspect from a team building perspective is the trials where campmates must work together to achieve success.
Twelve strangers from varying backgrounds, experiences and ages being flung together and expected to achieve results is absolutely fascinating to watch. Due to the high stakes nature of the trials and responsibility of providing much needed sustenance for fellow campmates, a quick understanding and solid working relationships frequently develop. The practicalities of living under such difficult conditions require, more than anything, good interpersonal skills.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Knowing who can be expected to undertake certain tasks, understanding people’s strengths and weaknesses and a good amount of patience for those campmates who struggle. Of course, in this sort of environment, leaders start to emerge. This year, leadership wasn’t taken over by one person; Jimmy Bullard led the camp by keeping energy levels and spirits up. Carl Fogarty led through example and Melanie Sykes through organisation and commitment. It would be difficult to pick one solitary dominant figure, as each one was as important as the other in maintaining the spirit and success of the camp.
Even when the camp was split into smaller groups, no real animosity or bad feeling emerged, while the natural competitive spirit was clear, it was obvious that this was a well-bonded camp. Nearly every campmate upon leaving the jungle speaks of their huge sense of achievement regardless of their final standing – all feel that they have been part of something, truly a team experience.
In stark contrast, the recent episode of The Apprentice showed quite the opposite level of teamwork; team members always look like they are ready to push each other under a bus – perhaps next season Lord Sugar should dispense with the weekly tasks and send the applicants straight to the jungle for three weeks.