Thursday, June 26, 2008

British creator of "Baby Borrowers" previously produced "Celebrity Wheelchair Challenge"

Disclaimer: I saw that "Baby Borrowers" on NBC premiered June 25 and I purposely didn't watch it. To me, it's the same genre as "Wife Swap" -- a sickening show, IMHO, because it doesn't take into consideration the potential effects of these "I-wanna-be-on-TV" adults on reality shows in the lives of the children involved. I remember a particularly scary show in which a fundamentalist Christian wife swapped with a lesbian couple. I felt it bordered on abusive to the daughter of the lesbian couple, who had to endure a person in her home who rejected their family. She's just a little girl and doesn't need to have those kind of people in her home. "Baby Borrowers" scares me in the same way. What are the unknown effects on the babies and children of having these strangers take care of them for a reality TV show? I know they want to prevent teen pregnancy with the show, but I think there are better methods than reality TV to accomplish that goal.

Anyway, here's what creator Richard McKerrow says in Forbes about his past show in Britain, "Celebrity Wheelchair Challenge":

I did a program for Britain's channel 4 many years ago when I looked after disabled programming called Celebrity Wheelchair Challenge. When we did it, we were attacked by disability groups who said, 'Why did you need to put celebrities in wheelchairs to give them the experience of a disabled person? Use real disabled people!' And my response would be, 'I'm a passionate lobbyist of putting disabled people in mainstream television in every way that we can, but we also have to be realistic about the fact that viewers who don't know much about disabilities aren't necessarily going to tune in to that type of programming.'

This way you can do both. Celebrity Wheelchair Challenge was watched by an audience three times higher than would normally watch disabled programs. That meant people who don't know or care about disabilities were suddenly, through the prism of celebrity, brought to understand that Britain isn't a very accessible place for disabled people in wheelchairs. It went on to win an education award.