New drama showing impact of fame on reality TV stars praised by fans

New drama showing impact of fame on reality TV stars praised by fans

June 26, 2020

Powerful BBC drama Make Me Famous which shows a reality TV star driven to attempt suicide after being plagued by trolls is praised by fans who call for it to be shown to would-be contestants and teenagers in schools

  • One-off drama starring Tom Brittney looks at impact of reality TV show fame
  • Written by Reggie Yates, show sees Tom’s character Billy go from hero to zero
  • Viewers praised drama for highlighting how short-term reality TV show fame can harm mental health and some called for it to be shown to teenagers in schools 

Powerful BBC drama Make Me Famous has been hailed a ‘must-watch for the younger generation’ by viewers – with some calling for it to be shown in schools.

The hour-long show, written and produced by DJ Reggie Yates, explores the devastating impact short-term fame can have on young peoples’ mental health.

It follows 20-something Billy, played by Granchester actor Tom Brittney, who believes his life will change forever after being cast as the ‘playboy’ character in a new reality TV show called Love or Lust.

Fast forward a year, and while some of Billy’s co-stars’ careers are thriving, he is struggling to balance the afterglow of fame with social media, tabloid kiss-and-tells and the resulting assumptions people have made about his character.

Powerful BBC drama Make Me Famous has been hailed a ‘must-watch for the younger generation’ by viewers – with some calling for it to be shown in schools. Pictured: lead character Billy during his audition for new reality show ‘Love or Lust’

Fast forward a year, and while some of Billy’s co-stars’ careers are thriving, he is struggling to balance the afterglow of fame with social media, tabloid kiss-and-tells and the resulting assumptions people have made about his character. He is driven to try to take his own life (pictured)

Plagued by trolls and resorting to drug-taking and heavy drinking, the show culminates with Billy trying to take his own life – a harrowing echo of the tragic real-life fates of reality stars Sophie Gradon, Mike Thalassitis and Caroline Flack. 

Viewers praised Brittney’s raw performance and claimed future reality TV show contestants should be ‘made to watch it’.

One tweeted: ‘Wow, heart-wrenching stuff, needed a warning about suicide content. But I think this needs to be shown in schools, sad it was just one episode, made me think of Caroline Flack.’

Another wrote: ‘Brill docudrama by #reggieyates called #makemefamous. It’s about  what happens after contestants get out of the reality show and back into actual reality, how quickly the bubble bursts, and the brutality of social media bullying #ripcarolineflack and anyone else who sadly ended it.’

Viewers praised Brittney’s raw performance and claimed future reality TV show contestants should be ‘made to watch it’

And one commented: ‘This programme #makemefamous on @BBCOne @REGYATES is harrowing. I know it’s fictional but the resemblance to a well known reality TV star is devastating. We must do better.’

‘#makemefamous should be made mandatory viewing for all secondary school students on showing the dangerous side to wanting the 15 minutes of fame and how a normal life is much better from a mental health point of view,’ tweeted another. 

The show is based on interviews with people who have made and starred in reality TV, and highlights the consequences of fast fame on reality TV participants and their close friends and families.  

Alongside Brittney, the drama also stars Amanda Abbington, Aiysha Hart, Nina Sosanya, EastEnders’ Tilly Keeper and Emma Rigby, and Trieve Blackwood-Cambridge. 

The show is based on interviews with people who have made and starred in reality TV, and highlights the consequences of fast fame on reality TV participants and their close friends and families. Pictured: Billy with his mother Amanda (Amanda Abbington)

Speaking about the drama, Reggie Yates said: ‘Billy (our lead character) has a place close to my heart. I’ve spent my whole career working in television and seen everything it has to offer – the best of it, the worst of it, how much it can be a force for good, and the way it changes lives.

‘Reality TV is loved by those in it and those who watch it, but there are issues that come with that and this felt like an opportunity to tell a story which explores the relationship between reality TV, social media and fame. 

‘It’s been a year in the making but it’s great to finally share this film with the BBC Three audience, who I feel have grown up alongside me. Now, more than ever, it feels like this story needs to be told.’ 

Reggie told how he conducted a series of interviews with people involved in some of the UK’s most popular reality shows, from the contestants to the people behind the scenes, to make the film ‘authentic’. 

Reggie told how he conducted a series of interviews with people involved in some of the UK’s most popular reality shows, from the contestants to the people behind the scenes, to make the film ‘authentic’. Pictured: Billy in hospital after his overdose

‘Everyone was incredibly open about their experiences on camera and what their lives were like afterwards. Thanks to their honesty I was able to build characters who reflected elements of their experience,’ he explained.

‘I also took the time to talk to my younger siblings, cousins and friends who really engage with reality TV. I’m hoping we’ve achieved a nuanced, respectful and complicated version of what it means to be in that world.’

Make Me Famous is available to watch now on the BBC iPlayer. 

For confidential support, log on to samaritans.org or call the Samaritans on 116123. 

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