Steerable camera watching the house for a Channel 4 reality TV show
Steerable camera watching the house (photo: James Kemp)

We’ve had a film crew parked in our street for a week to shoot a reality TV show for Channel 4. Before you get excited, I’m not in it. My neighbours are though, and that means we’ve had a lot of people waving cameras about.

Secret Life of Teenagers

A couple of weeks ago our next door neighbour came round to tell us about the reality TV show his partner had signed them up for. The show is being made by the same people that produced The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds. The intention this time was to do something similar with teenagers. The folk next door have three teenagers, so obviously a good start for the production firm. The idea was that the parents would go away for the weekend and the house would be wired with cameras to capture everything. For safety reasons there are security, a paramedic and a psychologist watching as well as other people. They would be in a portacabin tucked at the end of a cul-de-sac.

As presented it seemed straightforward. The reality TV crew would film from Friday to Sunday. There’d be few around all the time for safety and they’d be discreetly parked out of the way.

The Secret Life of Reality TV

Floodlight & Camera in back garden put there for a reality TV show
Floodlight & Camera in back garden (photo: James Kemp)

The reality of reality TV was somewhat different. A massive truck turned up on Wednesday and they started setting up cameras. Most of those were in the house, but there was also one on the drive pointing back at the house (so we had to close our living room curtains to be sure of being out of shot) and a couple in the back garden with floodlights pointing back at the house.

The cul-de-sac, which is at the bottom of our garden, had two trailers in it, and it became clear that the crew were living there rather than rotating shifts. The rest of the street also doubled its usual car parking. All the houses in our street have drives, so usually there are only one or two parked cars. For the last week there have been cars along the pavements. We’ve also had a marked up paramedic vehicle parked outside the house too.

The Secret Life of Production People

Two members of the reality TV production crew on the street outside my house during filming
Two members of the production crew on the street outside my house during filming (photo: James Kemp)

More interestingly we’ve had a number of people hanging about in the street. Some of these we’ve come to recognise as the CP trained paramedic and security guys. Others are clearly reality TV types, production assistants, camera crew, or one of the others needed to make a reality TV show.

It’s that last part that is hardest to deal with. People hanging about watching and recording daily life. Everything else is unusual but normal. We’ve spoken more to our neighbours about this than anything else recently. Everyone is a bit annoyed about the reality TV incursion into our chosen reality.

We’ve also had a range of other suspicious behaviours. A group of teenagers on mopeds came and hung about to watch the reality TV crew setting up. Another pair in a slung low VW polo cruised round for a bit until the security told them to move on. There’s also been a bit of a noisy party next door too, but nothing unusual there, and it finished earlier than normal.