We’re not really that unremarkable, are we?

August 8, 2012 5:00 pm

I’m sure that I will be told by many people that I need to lighten the hell up once they’ve read what I have to say, but in true Welsh style, I’m going to carry on regardless.

I’ll be honest with you – I’ve had a hell of a year. We were still suffering the dregs of royal fanaticism before the jubilee, and now there’s the Olympics. This relentless Britfest has sent my blood pressure through the roof, I swear. But now there’s something else getting to me, and I suppose it does fit into the category of ‘brushing Wales aside’, or at least, a disgusting yet unsurprising arrogant British attitude towards those of us this side of Offa’s Dyke.

The Valleys.

For those of you who prefer wide plains, I’m afraid I’m not referring to elongated lowlands between ranges of mountains, hills, or other uplands, often having a river or stream running along the bottom. And those of you with a particular distaste for the inhabitants of the South Wales Valleys, I’m afraid that I must again disappoint. I am in fact referring to the devil’s most recent spawn – MTV’s new ‘reality’ show, The Valleys.

I realise that it hasn’t even started yet and one mustn’t judge a book by its cover, and all that, but the whole concept is quite ridiculous. And the cast, oh! the cast. Described as aspiring models and TV presenters, one is led to believe that these are people who want to be famous for being, well, famous. I’m told that celebutante is a good word to describe such people but as a rule, I’m not keen on portmanteaux like that.

Aside from how crass this show promises to be, there is a rather more meaningful side to my annoyance. Seldom do I agree with anyone from Labour, but I’m with Chris Bryant, MP for Rhondda, on this one; he calls it ‘hideously patronising.’ The concept itself is patronising but on top of that – oh yes, there’s more – we’re told that the cast have been ‘plucked from the tranquillity of Valley life’ in their ‘hamlet towns.’ Bah! How removed from reality are these people?

The scary thing, I’m afraid, is that there will be people watching this show who will ignorantly believe this rubbish. Do they seriously think that these people don’t get leathered in Cardiff of a weekend? Do they seriously think that these people don’t go shopping in Cardiff? For those of us who are able to say that we’re from the far Western edge of the Valleys (but actually live in Cardiff), the way we’re being brushed aside as though it’s okay to generalise us and frankly, make us out to be a bunch of village idiots is massively offensive.

Even the publicity photos released in the past few days are a slap in the face for the Welsh. Sheep. Yes, that old chestnut. I’m making assumptions now, but let’s face it: the likelihood that any of the cast have ever had to herd real-life sheep is slim.

This programme amounts to nothing more than taking advantage of Welsh stereotypes, making a mockery out of a part of our country that for many people serves as a microcosm for the whole of Wales, and giving a bunch of attention-seeking divas the chance to expose a vast amount of flesh on national and international television.

I may sound like a fuddy-duddy, a grump, and a fun-sucker, and for that, I apologise. I may well be proved wrong, but I’m afraid that I won’t be watching the programme so I won’t know any different, and for that, I make no apology whatever.

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  • Liam

    I have to agree with everything that you’ve said about this programme. The whole concept is vile and it’s an appalling representation of the people of that area, and South Wales in general (I hear they’ve got people from all over South Wales in it right?). I don’t think blaming it on British anti-welsh sentiment is necessarily right on this particular occasion though. As easy as it is to say so for a Welsh Republican after the dreadful jubilee celebrations and the Olympics (I actually rather enjoy the sport), but I think this is down to TV companies and obsession with celebrity. South Wales is the latest unfortunate area of the UK to be stigmatised by MTV and other television companies. Take Essex, West London, Newcastle. All have already had their areas mimicked in the name of reality television.

  • Dan L

    Well said Cerith! Its embarrassing that they are going to represent us. Many of my friends who are not from Wales think that “The Valleys” is just another way of saying “Wales”. We seem to be stuck with the worst kind of stereotypes and this show is only going to make it worse. But hopefully this will just be another one of the host of new reality shows that no one watches and gets dumped quite quickly!
    On the point about where they’re from, half of them either aren’t from the Valleys, or are from places like Swansea, Port Talbot or Caerffili, hardly the quiet Welsh countryside or miles away from Cardiff! And the point about fame for the sake of fame is spot on, it worries me greatly that so many people now seem to have no hopes of doing something useful or creative.

  • Well said Cerith….
    The truth is they are NON-Reality,and it’s taking over TV

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