BBC’s documentary chief, Nick Fraser, criticises the global television industry for its increasing obsession with banality. He argues that the industry’s infatuation with “constructed reality” TV shows, such as Big Brother and Jersey Shore, is leading to a decline in the quality of programming. Fraser believes these shows are replacing traditional documentaries, which he views as an essential tool for understanding the world.

Fraser’s comments come amidst fears that the BBC may reduce its budget for factual programming. He warns that the corporation risks losing its reputation for quality if it continues to prioritise entertainment over informative content. Fraser also criticises the BBC’s decision to move BBC Four, a channel known for its high-quality documentaries, to an online-only platform.

Fraser is not alone in his concerns. Other industry figures, including award-winning documentary filmmaker, John Pilger, have also voiced their worries about the trend towards reality TV. Pilger believes that the rise of these shows is leading to a “dumbing down” of television content, with serious issues being sidelined in favour of trivial entertainment.

In response to these concerns, Fraser is calling for a renaissance in documentary filmmaking. He believes that there is a need for programmes that challenge viewers and provoke thought, rather than simply providing easy entertainment. Fraser’s comments highlight a growing debate within the television industry about the balance between entertainment and education.

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