The Masked Singer UK has become a major hit for ITV.
The show, which roped in stars like Kelis, Jake Shears and CeeLo Green, is based on an idea that began in South Korea as King of Masked Singer, and has resulted in a season of beautifully bonkers television.
As The Masked Singer wraps up this weekend, the next question on our lips is: What next? We look abroad for more reality show formats that we’d love to see adapted for our shores.
Reviews for this Japanese Big Brother-style reality show don’t exactly use traditionally effusive language. Per The Guardian, it’s a “must-watch,” except “nothing happens”; The New York Times said it “moves at a leisurely pace,” “asks little of its participants,” and “soothes rather than rankles”.
The show, which found an international audience via Netflix, is simply about six young people who share a house and explore relationships both romantic and platonic, with love stories given much more time to develop than other dating shows.
Western audiences are used to reality TV being a cut-throat world of explosive drama and hyper-real personalities – maybe it’s time to take a deep breath, slow down, and let the social experiment speak for itself?
Is it Chocolate
This one seems outlandish, but we see potential. The Japanese game show Ultraman Dash features a popular segment called Candy or Not Candy, which is pretty self-explanatory; contestants explore a room and have to figure out what’s real and what’s food. Is it a shoe? Is it made of chocolate? Only one way to find out!
We need this, now. Ultraman Dash sent celebrities on the unusual quest, which is probably the best part of the whole operation. Can you imagine a roster of British stars running around biting door handles or table legs? I would like to see it.
Are You the One?
Love Island has been rightfully criticised for being aggressively heterosexual – but it doesn’t need to be that way, as evidenced by MTV’s Are You The One?
The conceit of this show puts faith in matchmaking algorithms, with contestants paired up by producers with their “perfect match”. But the show forged a new frontier in reality television with their eighth season by casting sixteen sexually fluid contestants, removing all gender limitations for potential matches.
What followed was a rare reality series that championed queer voices in a prime time slot and subverted the trappings of reality TV, offering genuinely important representation for a range of gender identities – something British reality TV is in need of.
A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila
Going even further back, A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila featured a bisexual woman fronting her own version of The Bachelor with a twist. While the whole conceit of treating her bisexuality as the big reveal doesn’t stand up too well in 2020, it’s still ahead of Love Island. Bring it back.
Reality competition shows have covered everything from singing to fashion to home renovation, but this US series took on a new profession; interior design. While Top Design didn’t rate well in the States, we reckon a revival could take off in the UK.
Just think: 16 budding designers are given free reign to design a central London apartment, in the kind of building you walk past on your way to work and wistfully imagine what’s inside. Who doesn’t love a bit of interior porn?
This reality show began in the Netherlands and was brought to the US by none other than Justin Timberlake. The premise is hectic: contestants receive an anonymous phone call and receive a series of instructions, plunging them into an action movie scenario in which they get to be the hero.
The series was poorly received in the US – a Jimmy Fallon audience reportedly thought a clip from the show was meant to be a comedy – but imagine what this would look like if it was actually well-made? Nothing beats seeing ordinary people triumph in extraordinary circumstances, and we’ve all imagined ourselves as James Bond once.
Alarmingly, this CW show was compared to The Hunger Games, sans actual killing. A dozen pairs would “hunt” each other in a wilderness – named “The Arena”(!) – while surviving off minimal food and water.
While a decent sum of money was available for the winners, multiple contestants told the press that the show was much tougher than it looked on screen. But there’s something enticing about the concept, and if conditions were perhaps a little kinder, we could see a competition series like this making for excellent television.
A very normal entry on this list, we know, and we actually already tried this in 2001. But almost 20 years later, it’s time for another shot – plus, we invented the format! The US version of Survivor is still going strong for a reason – each season introduces juicy new twists to the game play, and the editing is razor-sharp.
Now that Love Island has heralded a new age of reality TV in which we’ll happily watch hours and hours of mundane chat, why not try Survivor again, the original TV social experiment?
This one is technically a documentary series, but it warrants a place on this list for just how damn heartwarming it is.
Following a family who run a funeral home with a bounty of good humour and love, The Casketeers became a major hit in New Zealand, and we’re sure a similarly heartwarming, family-operated odd business exists in the UK.