"factual tv" vs. "reality tv"

Damien Hall djh514 at YORK.AC.UK
Sat Mar 28 13:15:15 UTC 2009

Amy asked:

>This is a British dialect question: I didn't spot this treated over
>at Separated by a Common Language . . . .
>A friend in Canterbury, Kent, just used the phrase "factual televsion
>programming" in a context that led me to believe it's equivalent to
>American "reality tv." Is that so or is there a difference. (And are
>both labels equally misleading as to the contents?)

No, we call shows like Big Brother 'reality TV' or 'reality shows' as well.
(Notwithstanding Doug's well-taken point about how 'reality TV' bears no
relation to reality whatsoever.) 'Factual programming' refers to news and
documentaries, as far as I am aware.


Damien Hall

University of York
Department of Language and Linguistic Science
YO10 5DD

Tel. (office) +44 (0)1904 432665
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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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