Fame, fame, fatal fame. It can play hideous tricks on the brain. But still I’d rather be famous than righteous and holy. Any day, any day, any day……. So wrote Stephen Patrick Morrissey in the mid eighties but his words (and those of David Bowie) possess extra poignance in the wake of the tragedy involving Steven Dymond, a guest on the Jeremy Kyle Show.
As someone who has been involved in “aftercare” and “during care” for various reality TV shows over the years, the tragedy doesn’t come as a shock; the only surprise is that something similar hasn’t happened sooner.
This blog has occasionally related stories of Big Brother housemates who emerge from three weeks of televised incarceration with the words, “thank God I’m out. I’ve been missing my medication!” and has touched on possible anger and mental health issues involved with Wife Swap. But over the years there were many other occasions when those seeking fifteen minutes (or more) of fame rapidly realised that perhaps it wasn’t the gateway to unparalleled joy that they imagined.
To be fair, Big Brother aftercare and psych care was generally very good and for the majority of housemates, their meeting with the psychologist immediately after eviction was brief and entirely sufficient. For a handful, a longer meeting was required - on one occasion, the post-eviction press conference was delayed until about 2am while the doctor assessed whether it was even a good idea.
And on an even smaller number of occasions, “psych meetings” had to be arranged on an almost daily basis to help those unhappy few back into their own already fragile realities. It is fifteen years since those days and one hopes that care has improved but maybe it hasn’t; and maybe the very methods by which reality TV contributors are chosen requires an overhaul.
I have no desire to be famous. I never have. Of those I’ve met (again see other blog posts) who enjoy huge levels of fame, the positives barely outweigh the negatives, often not at all. The pressures increase the higher up the fame ladder one travels and the further from the ground one steps, and there are few who can truly embrace fame and yet withdraw from it sufficiently to truly relish its riches.