Turn your nose up at reality TV? Are you too high-brow for such shows? Fed up of this factory entertainment? 

Are you more into your “High-culture” offering of opera and traditional theatre? 


Well, before you campaign against this so-called “low culture” or this “trash TV,” take a moment to think about the real journeys of all those contestants involved. 


And I’m not talking about the panned up journeys, with background music, that are edited for our simple viewing pleasure. 


In defence of reality TV

Yes they’ll be the odd person who just wants a quick slice of fame but for many acts, they’ve done the rounds of the working men’s clubs, they’ve been on the cruise ships, and they’ve devoted every waking minute to their talent. 


After all, no matter what background you’re from, we all need to be able to dream big. 

We need to see people like us on TV in order to give us hope that our little world could change.

But we don’t all have the money and the contacts to do this alone. 

The fame game


Yes the fame game isn’t for everyone but the contestants use the show, almost as much as the show uses them, as a vehicle to further their career. 

My Britain’s Got Talent journey

I must declare a bias, as I had an amazing ride appearing on Britain’s Got Talent in 2008 as a teenage Bellydancer. 


Before being on the show, I was a student, juggling jobs as a waitress and Bellydancer and, I spent all my spare time acting, dancing and auditioning. 

I had a dream. 

A dream of performing professionally in a world that I didn’t have the contacts to access.

I was young, naive and I didn’t have the same inhibitions as I do now, but such TV shows helped me to believe that my dreams were possible (I also appeared and got through the first rounds of BBC’s Dance X with Arlene Phillips & So You Think You Can Dance).

Into the Lion’s Den

How awesome are the people that throw themselves into the Lion’s Den of the TV world, all with the hope that their life could change? 

How badly must they want their lives to change to do this? Think of them/us.

It ain’t all rosy though

For those that don’t strike the right notes with the TV judges, I imagine it can be pretty devastating.

 But at least they tried. Rather than regret. 

And for some, even just the exposure of the TV audition itself can offer a plethora of opportunities to contestants.

Although it’s down to you to keep working at it. 

Reality TV gives people an audience of millions that they wouldn’t have normally had and this pressure, can make or break you. 

 Don’t tar us all with the same brush 

 I hate it when people slag off such talent shows without acknowledging what they can and what they are doing from people. 

I find that a lot of that snobbery comes from the upper classes too. 

“Don’t ever tell anyone you’ve been on Reality TV or they’ll never take you seriously.” 

I can’t tell you the amount of times posher (than me, which doesn’t take much) people in the media would advise me (the above) when I decided to pursue a career in journalism.

In my head I’d think: “But I wouldn’t be talking to you if I hadn’t been on Reality TV.”


I was 20, and I believed them, I became embarrassed to be linked to such a show, but it was that show, BGT which made me who I am in my career.

It’s not for everyone, but it can be amazing for some artists 

Before, I went on TV I had no contacts in the media, I didn’t understand the industry and, it was an out-of-reach world to me. 

But with the exposure, which wasn’t all easy, I met “contacts.” 

It’s not what you know it’s who you know

I watched and listened with envy as presenters and journalists would interview me. I wanted to sit where they were.


 Yes I wanted to dance around the world but I had a new ambition much bigger than anything else, I wanted to be a journalist. 

I didn’t act or sound like most Journos I came across, but I thought well if I can be a successful TV Bellydancer (beyond my wildest dreams), I can try anything. 


Reality TV gives people hope. 

Especially people from seldom-heard communities. 

 It reaches out to the heart of folk who just what to be given a chance. 

It may just be 15 seconds of fame, but don’t judge us, for wanting to better ourselves. 

The “reality” of Reality TV

 It’s not to be taken lightly either, as that surge of adrenaline, that moment in the spotlight, can be electrifying but with every rise, there’s a fall and a lot of us contestants have struggled with the come-down, the “crash” or the hangover of such shows. 

But do I regret going on the show? 

No, I’m now proud to talk about it, as for my family and I, it has been life-changing and continues to give us joy and moments in the spotlight, albeit a smaller stage now. 

But that’s not to mention, that my hubby-to-be recently reached the quarterfinals of BBC’s MasterChef. 


We are well and truly Z (& even further down)-listers. 

But hey, we had fun and he is now running pop-up restaurants and I’m working as a journalist

For more info on my bellydancing, go to: BellydanceBySophieMei.com

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