Feb 212003

Reality TV these days lacks imagination. Joe Millionaire? Married by America? How about the old Monty Python skit, Blackmail? The Blackmail set consists of the host at a desk with a telephone. A crude home video rolls, with a running meter and a telephone number at the bottom of the screen. The video begins innocuously. A car drives down a street, an unidentifiable man walks into a house. Shadows appear in a bedroom window as the meter continues to run. The man and a woman begin to undress. The woman brandishes a whip. The camera zooms in…and the phone rings. It’s the poor sap calling, agreeing to pay whatever’s on the meter to stop the video.

Think about it. Zero production costs. Staff salaries partly defrayed by the swag. And who could afford not to watch?

  2 Responses to “Blackmail”

  1. There was something clean and, well, honest about the Blackmail Show. (True, one was to contact them behind the leaking pipes, men’s room, third stall along, Victoria Station, or something like that.) The "You Vote, They Marry" motto is not classic absurdist comedy, it’s REAL!! How scary is that? Can you say "Cultural Bankruptcy"?

  2. Actually, "Blackmail" had a bit more, the "Stop the Film" segment was the final bit, IIRC.

    First he said the name of the first contestent (Mrs. Betty Neal?)and told her that if she sent fifteen pounds, then her husband, and her two lovely children need never learn "the name of your LOVER IN BOLTON!"

    Then: "a hotel registration book, a letter, and a series of photographs, which could add up to divorce, premature retirement, and possible criminal proceedings for a company director in Thames-Ditton. He’s a freemason, and a conservative M.P., so that’s 3,000 pounds please Mr. S…"

    (In high school, I frequently memorized Python, and this one stuck. The shame, the shame!)

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