10 things nobody tells you about famous reality shows

·Contributor
·7-min read
The X Factor is no stranger to a sob story. (Photo by Steven A Henry/WireImage)
The X Factor is no stranger to a sob story. (Photo by Steven A Henry/WireImage)

You’d better have a sob story ready if you want to get on The X Factor…

Not only had you better have a sob story, you’d better be willing to divulge it on stage, in front of a sizeable audience if you want a better shot at getting on the X Factor. A Daily Star reporter went undercover at X Factor auditions in 2015. “Ever wonder how the judges get the auditionees to admit their most heartbreaking secrets on stage? Well, it takes a while,” she wrote. “One 46-year-old singer was repeatedly asked why he was a single father, what happened to his marriage and why his wife left him, to the point where the singer looked rather uncomfortable.”

Food on MasterChef is allowed to go cold. (Getty)
Food on MasterChef is allowed to go cold. (Getty)

The food on MasterChef is cold…

Ever wondered how contestants on MasterChef keep their food warm while they await judgement? Simple. They don’t. George Calombaris, who judges the Australian version of the show revealed: “It has always been cold and it always will be cold but we taste everything hot off camera. So at the end of the cook, you don’t see that - no one sees that apart from the three of us and the executive producer. We will go around the room and the three of us will taste everything hot out of their pot. It looks sexy on TV but it takes time to film. So when you see us tasting at the end - it’s cold but I’ve already made the decision, I already know what it tastes like.”

'Frankenbites' can direct the narrative of scenes. (Getty)
'Frankenbites' can direct the narrative of scenes. (Getty)

Shows use 'Frankenbites’…

As much as they might sound like Halloween-themed chicken nuggets, so-called 'frankenbites’ are in fact re-edited clips of audio from shows made to support the narrative that the show producers want to portray, often changing the meaning of an interaction drastically. This is mostly covered up by the camera cutting away to something else while people are talking, so when that’s happening, there’s most likely 'frankenbiting’ going on.

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The practice is even recommended in a handbook. In the manual 'Edit Better: Hollywood - Tested Strategies for Powerful Video Editing’, Jeff Bartsch, who has worked on shows like America’s Next Top Model and Supernanny, writes: “Rule #39: Exercise your authority to change and alter words. Just because they’re there doesn’t mean they should stay as they are.”

Close-up Of A Businesswoman's Hand Filling Contract Form
Close-up Of A Businesswoman's Hand Filling Contract Form

Things can get seriously intrusive for reality show hopefuls…

If you do take the reality TV plunge, you should also be prepared for some pretty intrusive behaviour from the production companies. “The big shows do an extensive background check on all prospective stars. We call friends and family members, conduct drug and STD tests, make you sit through endless interviews, and do psychological and physical examinations,” one group of anonymous producers told Readers Digest. Other questions which have appeared on reality show applications include 'What are you most ashamed of, either now or in your past?’ and 'Describe your relationship with your father’. One contestant on The Great Australian Bake Off, Monique Bowley, said: “You will do endless interviews and psychological examinations until these strangers know more about you than your BFF. You will reveal everything: your family history, your sexual history, your psychological history, your job history, your shameful, emotional eating history.” And that’s just Bake Off.

Some reality show contracts have eyebrow raising stipulations. (Photo by John P. Filo/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
Some reality show contracts have eyebrow raising stipulations. (Photo by John P. Filo/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

You may have to sign your dignity away…

Check out this stipulation from the ’eligibility requirements’ for US show The Bachelor: “Applicants acknowledge, understand, and agree that Companies (as defined below) use or revelation of Personal Information and Recordings as defined in these Eligibility Requirements may be embarrassing, unfavorable, humiliating, and/or derogatory and/or may portray him or her in a false light.” Still want to be on it? Meanwhile, over on America’s Top Model, you have to agree to this: “You understand and agree that you may be required to pose and be photographed or videotaped while clothed, partially clothed or naked.” The small print for the US Big Brother even suggests that should you win, the prize money is only given at the producer’s discretion and is 'subject to change’.

Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson, Si Robertson and Jase Robertson before the rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Sunday, April 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Mike Stone)
Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson, Si Robertson and Jase Robertson before the rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Sunday, April 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Mike Stone)

No one swore on Duck Dynasty

Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson, a 'proud Christian’, previously accused show producers of having 'no moral compass’, and called out editors on the show over fakery. “They inserted fake beeps like somebody had used profanity, but no one had used profanity,” he told The Christian Post.

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“So I asked those guys who produce the show, I said, ‘Lemme ask you something. What’s the point of the fake bleeps?’ They’re the ones arranging the scenes. Well, they’re the ones that said, ‘You know, I think it’d be cool here to maybe make it look like they’re cursing.’ Of course these people thought there was some profanity going on. There was zero.”

Gordon Ramsay's Hells Kitchen visit aren't always enough to save restaurants. (Photo by FOX Image Collection via Getty Images)
Gordon Ramsay's Hells Kitchen visit aren't always enough to save restaurants. (Photo by FOX Image Collection via Getty Images)

Gordon Ramsay rarely saves any restaurants…

When Gordon Ramsay pitches up to your ailing restaurant to shout into your eyeballs about how your menu is too complicated and your walk-in fridge is full of vermin, you’d hope that the lifeline he’s reputedly throwing you will drag you from bankruptcy. Well, you’d be lucky. Of the 77 restaurants he visited on his globally syndicated Kitchen Nightmares show up to 2014, a sturdy 47 of them closed down. One restaurant, Lela’s in Pomona, California, even closed down before they’d finished filming the episode.

The Only Way Is Essex' Stars (left to right) Sam Faiers, Harry Derbidge and Amy Childs arriving at the 2010 British Comedy Awards at Indigo2, at the O2 Arena, London.
The Only Way Is Essex' Stars (left to right) Sam Faiers, Harry Derbidge and Amy Childs arriving at the 2010 British Comedy Awards at Indigo2, at the O2 Arena, London.

The pay can be rubbish…

Whether you’re an Essex wannabe or a Real Housewife of Cheshire, the money for starring in a reality show is pretty rubbish considering you’re on the TV. The cast of The Only Way Is Essex were earning £50 per day when the show started.

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This was raised to the dizzying heights of £80 in 2012, and £120 by 2013. Of course, once you’ve made a name for yourself, endorsement deals and the like can start bringing in the more serious cash. But British reality shows in general are notoriously tight on the purse strings.

Closeup of one female eye and tear on her cheek.
Closeup of one female eye and tear on her cheek.

Producers will make you cry on purpose…

More from Monique Bowley, who was a contestant on The Great Australian Bake Off in 2013: “I reckon there’s a slab of beer on the table for every producer that gets a contestant to melt into tears. Why? It makes brilliant TV that’s why. WE ALL cried. Because you know all that psychological testing you did earlier? Now there’s a big fat old file with your name on it and a list of buttons to push. Got a fractured relationship with your father? The producers will wait until you pull a flat fondue out of the oven and you’re feeling a bit wobbly, then they’ll hit you with the old 'Oh. What would your dad think of that?’ *Sob*.

Kris Humphries (L) and then-wife reality TV personality Kim Kardashian appear on the Tonight Show With Jay Leno at NBC Studios on October 4, 2011 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/NBCUniversal/Getty Images)
Kris Humphries (L) and then-wife reality TV personality Kim Kardashian appear on the Tonight Show With Jay Leno at NBC Studios on October 4, 2011 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/NBCUniversal/Getty Images)

Those 'spontaneous’ moments aren’t all that spontaneous…

As is often the case with 'scripted reality’, the spontaneous moments might not have been quite as spontaneous as they were made out to be, and often they’re reshot if they don’t work as expected. Take the marriage proposal from Kris Humphries to Kim Kardashian in Keeping Up With The Kardashians, with the rose petals and the candles, and the going down on one knee. Producer Russell Jay later revealed that the scene was reshot because Kim 'didn’t like how her face looked’. Now that’s romance!