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TV Talk Shows - Essay Example

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Though TV talk shows are numerous and different, spanning the gamut between any topic and theme imaginable, the constitutive element of all these different forms of talk shows is their strong orientation towards a combination of entertainment and information, called "emotainment" (Wetschanow, 1999 p.2). According to Aslama and Pantti (2006), this is apparently because interest in the emotions of other people seems to be very much a part of contemporary culture, as is the pressure to reveal emotions and talk about them in both private and public forums. They argue that the present age seems to be living in a 'confessional' or 'therapeutic' culture (Furedi, 2004) that celebrates individual feelings, intimate revelations and languages of therapy. And the media, specifically through TV talk shows have not only helped to foster this culture, but also profited from it (Aslama and Pantti, 2006 p.167).
The purpose of this essay is to analyse TV talk show popularity in the UK. How Talk shows, as a form of entertainment, have become so popular and common place in the UK; why they attract so much English audience within the targeted age range and gender, despite the fact that most of the programmes are foreign; which gender and/or age group are targeted by talk show programmes and the implications talk shows programmes is likely to have on popular culture. These are the questions this essay shall attempt to address.

Bruun (1999) opine that talk shows exhibit three distinguishing characteristics that set them apart from other TV programmes. He believes that what he referred to as the trio of "TV studio, the host, and the interview" are the three basic elements common to all TV talk shows that set them apart from other TV programmes (Brunn, 1999 p.244).

According to Brunn, in the talk show the TV studio is the space of the programme and in talk shows the unity of time and place is observed in the same way as in classical drama. Thus the role of the TV medium in the talk show is to be, both the event in itself and to the place of the event at, one and the same time. The host is the central element who functions as an intermediary between the programme and the viewers. For this reason, unlike the staging of an anchor person in a news broadcast, the talk show attaches great importance to the television personality of the host, as this is an essential part of the content of the talk show. The talk show is, to a great extent, the studio host's programme - and the programme is the host's world. The interview is an important method of creating the content for the talk show. It is also the way in which a great portion of the content of the programme is presented. Consequently the focus is on people and conversation between people. This is what is on offer to the viewers. Because of this focus on people and conversation, the talk show differs from similar programmes like TV-quiz show and the TV game show in which the emphasis is on a game governed by a set of rules. The talk show is like the performance of a theatrical improvisation, and the way in which this performance is set up with regard to interview style, the role of the interviewer, and the role of the participants, has a vital significance for the viewers' perception of talk shows (Brunn, 1999 p.244).

Describing the factors responsible for the popularity of talk shows, Horton and Wohl (1996), argues that talk shows tend to create an illusion of intimacy and ...Show more


These days it is almost impossible to tune into daytime or late night television without coming across one television talk show programme or the other. From "Oprah show" through "This is Your Life", "Ricki Lake", to the Danish, "Mors Hammer" the list of talk show programmes is endless…
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