Region Wishes to Remain ‘Unvajazzled’ by Regional Docudrama Craze

In Culture, Satire on July 26, 2011 at 9:23 PM

Extraordinary news emerged yesterday as an area of the UK claimed that it has no plans to make a spin-off of the infamous The Only Way is Essex TV reality show (or perhaps rather, ‘reality’ show).


The Only Way is Essex

The Only Way is Essex

For those of you not in the know, The Only Way is Essex (or ‘TOWIE’) is the first UK equivalent of the ‘structured reality show’ pioneered in America with Jersey Shore and The Hills. These shows follow the lives and loves of Americans from opposite seaboards (Jersey Shore – East, The Hills – West), confident enough that their lives are of interest to the wider public. Whatever your views on these shows, they have indeed proved of interest to many.

The Only Way is Essex, featuring self-styled  ‘Essex girls’ and ‘lads’, was the first major UK version of these hybrids of soaps and documentaries that occupy the bizarre, ambiguous hinterland between reality and fiction. Due to TOWIE’s enormous viewing figures (its 2nd season averaged about 1.4 million per show), seemingly every region of the country is clamouring to get in on the act. Others having already done so include Geordie Shore and Made in Chelsea.

It was thus with great surprise that TAY learnt yesterday that one region, namely Buckinghamshire town Milton Keynes, has motioned against such a show in their area. Milton Keynes lies about 30 miles North-West of central London and has grown rapidly in the latter half of 20th century, with much modern housing, transport and services. It is most noted for…well, having next to nothing of note, being fairly monocultural (white middle-class) and also full of generic, identikit, 70’s and 80’s suburban housing, faceless shopping centres and roundabouts. Lots of roundabouts. Even one of those bafflingly complicated ‘magic roundabouts’ with 5 roundabouts within one larger roundabout. Essentially, if you had to name a place that best describes that oh-so-ambiguous phrase ‘Middle England’, Milton Keynes would be it.

'Mediocre' Milton KeynesMilton Keynes

Indeed, one friend who had the indignity of growing up in Milton Keynes, darkly quipped that the only good thing about living in Milton Keynes was that it was easy to get away from, as the roundabouts do actually work and allow access to the M1, 5 railway stations and Luton International Airport just 10 miles away. It also brings to mind a somewhat accidentally brilliant response by a pupil, a friend once told me, of a similar suburban void. The teacher asks “what is the name of the place Christians believe you go which is kind of between heaven and hell? …A bit like a waiting room…?” “Crawley…?” one pupil proffered.

It is for these features and reputation (or rather lack thereof), that ‘MK’ is still technically a town. Specifically, it is a town because it doesn’t have a cathedral. This is despite a near 200,000 having the misfortune and/or bad judgement to call Milton Keynes ‘home’, however briefly or grudgingly.

Speaking in a press conference yesterday, Mayor Notine Mebeckyard stated: “we have no plans to promote such a show (like TOWIE) in our area; in the unlikely event of any group from Milton Keynes believing their lives are of such note to merit nationwide TV coverage, we will endeavour to persuade them otherwise and prevent the show getting to air. What would it be called, anyway; ‘Mediocre Milton’?!”

She further asserted that, if there did happen to be any particular identity of MK and its residents that could be advanced by a show, it would in all likelihood only be negative to the area, as authorities and residents of cities “unfortunate enough to play host to such dirge” have found.

She developed on this point to declare that “admittedly, Milton Keynes does not have much of a cultural heritage to sully, but we most certainly do not want one developed around one-dimensional, gaudy, gossiping girls and guys who think solely through their genitals”. “Furthermore”, she declared, “the vapidity and decadence which typifies this pseudo-television is entirely inconsistent with the upstanding reputation of a town built and run on the fine principles of British Conservatism”.

In summation, in a passionate kind of raison d’etre speech laced with passion ill-fitting of MK, Mebeckyard rhetorically asked: ‘do we really want to be represented nationwide by a group of self-proclaimed ‘socialites’ about as deep as a shower?! Drinking, dancing, dating, dumping, decorating ‘lady parts’ and discussing matters of such triviality even Heat wouldn’t give them a second look. I for one am quite happy in my ignorance of how ‘reem’ Chantelle’s hair is or how ‘jel’ Britney is of Tammy’s new ‘bestie’. And I am certainly happy ‘un-vajazzled’!”

Time will only tell if other local authorities are similarly content to remain ‘un-vajazzled’, literally or figuratively, by the impact of the wave of regional docudramas…


Joel Durston

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