REVIEW: The Exclusives

The six wannabes.

‘Celebrity… Glamour… And more glamour. Welcome to the world of glossy magazines. Europe’s biggest publisher is on the hunt for the next star journalist. Six wannabe reporters will compete to win one dream job. Under the watchful eye of industry experts, they’re being catapulted into the world of red carpet glamour and A-list access to try and bag the cover stories and scoops. But after seven gruelling weeks, who will land the job of a lifetime?’

It was probably only a matter of time before journalism was subjected to ITV’s latest X Factor-style process, whereby six hopefuls – selected seemingly for their eccentricities and sheer lack of qualifications rather than any discernible talent – will battle it out for a 12-month training contract at more! magazine. And there’s not a scribble of shorthand in sight.

After an audition process, the, ahem, thousands of candidates were wittled down to just six. There’s a glamour model; a chap who has ‘tried everything else’ and decided to give ‘journalism a go’; an odd-bod in a fur coat with curious lipstick; a guy who is quick to mention the fact he was adopted; and a couple of actual, proper journalism students for novelty value. TV wouldn’t be entertaining if they weren’t a bunch of weirdos, and so it’s safe to say that the six weren’t picked for their journalistic merits but rather for the fact that their personalities would keep us glued to the box over the next few weeks. Which, thinking about it, makes the whole thing a bit of a shambles, because, in the real world of employment, none of this bunch would particularly stand out at all.

The opening episode saw them complete a variety of tasks, including buying sweets for Jamie Laing, picking men for a topless photo shoot and stalking celebs for exclusive scoops at the BRITs after-parties. The latter task proved particularly difficult, and despite landing the revelation that Tinchy Stryder was ‘just keeping it humble’ and wearing Dior sunglasses, the gang were pretty hard pushed for getting a decent story. Fortunately, help came in an unlikely form: Nick Knowles (you know, the guy from DIY SOS). “What would you like to say to the readers of more! magazine?” one of the hacks asked Nick after spotting leaving an after-party. “Eerrrmmm,” deliberated Nick, “Dress up.” This was my highlight of the whole thing).

At the end of the programme, the team’s two mentors – Abbie Pethullis and Dan Jude, Senior Features writer at more! and Deputy Editor at FHM respectively – picked their Rookie Of The Week. Unsurprisingly, this was glamour model/graduate Hayley (she is desperate ‘to prove she has a brain’ and we know she is ‘passionate’ about journalism as the footage keeps cutting back to shots of her holding a copy of King Lear). The powers-that-be evidently decided to portray her as a bit of a bimbo in the earlier sections of the programme (where she was shown getting a spray tan, getting her nails done, posing in front of a camera, etc), but of the six contestants, it was easily Hayley who had the most gumption and steel behind her.

I get the analogy of the programme. Journalism really is a competition – for every single job that comes up in the industry, there are dozens and dozens of applicants, and it can boil down more to who you know rather than what. And I will freely admit that the show was nowhere nearly as awful as I had anticipated: the opening moments – showing the wannabes stalking down a road and pulling their best Zoolander faces – grated, but once the actual work began, I found myself actually getting quite involved.

However, I can’t help but feel that for all the interns who slave away unpaid for weeks on end, juggling part-time work and their studies in the hope of one day breaking into the industry, watching this mish-mashed bunch glide straight in at the deep (but very interesting) end is a real kick in the teeth.

What did you think of the programme?


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