Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Friday 15 April 2005

Reality TV and 'Playing it Straight'

Channel4 is currently in the second week of its latest Reality TV show, called 'Playing it Straight' (in fact it is being broadcast as I write this). The premise of the show is that a young woman called Zoe has to select whom to choose as her 'cowboy' from amongst 10 good looking men. What she is soon told is that amongst them is one or more men who are gay. There is GBP100,000 (USD183,000) to play for. The hitch? If she chooses a man who is straight, they split the loot equally - well done, them! If, however, she chooses a man who is gay, then he keeps the lot. OK? Fairly straightforward gameshow set-up.

Now I'm sure it won't surprise many people who read my blog regularly to know that this kind of show is likely to appeal to two kinds of viewer - young women and gay men, or at least those amongst these two groups who are not always out on a Friday evening (when it is shown on Channel4, repeated on C4 then E4 subsequently); I am, in my defence, sometimes out at a concert on a Friday, but not tonight or last week.

Last week when I saw the first episode I was astonished immeditately to recognise one of the males as a previous winner of the Mr Gay UK contest - surely, I thought, it can't be, or if it is then surely he will be recognised by one of the others. Now I know if you're completely straight, it may be unlikely that you'd be familiar with the winners of Mr Gay UK, but his photo was pretty well distributed at the time and, in any case, a lot of younger straight people are pretty open and have gay friends - and one of the other contestants is apparently a model, although my personal 'gaydar' puts him down as definitely straight, but nevertheless it still surprises me that he is not vaguely familiar with gay 'beauty contest' winners.

Curiously some years have been eliminated from the Mr Gay UK homepage here - I wonder why? Well read on ...

The winner of Mr Gay UK in 1998 was a gent by the name of Ben Harris, a builder from London and he, curiously, bears a striking resemblance to Ben in the show, also described as a builder from London.

I am not the world's ranking expert on 'gayness', but I'm wondering if a couple of others are not graduates of Mr Gay UK, too! Perhaps not, but I still wonder about two of the others. Indeed, one of those just eliminated tonight revealed himself to be gay, on his departure. So I was right about him, too! I think there may be at least one more (apart from Ben, that is).

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