Notting Hill Carnival is arguably the first thing that comes to mind when you are asked to familiarize yourself with the trendy area in West London, second to this is maybe the famous image of Rhys Ifan half-naked at Hugh Grant’s doorstep to a crowd of paparazzi. Whichever grabs your fancy, both may have to take a backseat as Channel 4 presents new documentary soap opera ‘7 Days.’
Filmed and edited within the space of a week, 7 Days graces your screens every Wednesday. It follows the lives of an eclectic bunch who reside in Notting Hill: tackling relevant issues such as unemployment and personal conquests such as dating. 7 Days separates itself from previous big dog documentaries such as its predecessor ‘Big Brother’ as it is set within the participants’ own reality: their offices, houses and work places. What’s more, viewers can offer advice to these characters via ‘chat nav’ on the online website and so residents can read comments written about them.
…one Facebook group disputing the show calls itself: ‘BULL****…
The show credits itself as being innovative and challenging to the traditions of reality documentary, yet bares itself to the harsh realization that the chosen characters, with exception to one or two lack real interest or universal appeal. The show has sparked annoyance with locals who do not feel it shows a true representation of the area: one Facebook group disputing the show calls itself: ‘BULL****, Let me show you the real Notting Hill.’ In spite of such remorse the producers intended for this to be an experiment and had no direct focus for what kind of people they wanted to film. We can then respect the decision to situate the filming in one of London’s more diverse districts with characters ranging from: Ben, a 27 year old singleton, still living at home with his mum, guilty of performing the most cringe worthy one liners to grace TV; law student and practicing Muslim Mokhtar; and infamous It girls Samantha and Laura Z.
The line-up proposes the right ingredients for raw entertainment and culture clashes, nonetheless this doesn’t happen. Aspiring rapper Javan’s quest for finding a job is a situation accustomed to many young adults in the UK today; however, the more we delve into the story the more droning and dull we find it. There is nothing exciting or refreshing we digest from the storylines, which Channel 4 hopes to replicate as a sort of ‘Eastenders’ type running drama. You are left to question yourself and ask what actually happened in the episode. If anything we hope for more ridiculous moments such as models Samantha and Laura Z’s encounter with two difficult members of the public who, after eaves dropping on their conversation and finding them being fake in front of the camera, ask them if that is what they are really like; Samantha sarcastically replies: ‘what, having a veggie breakfast with a hangover?’
The idea is of course relevant with social networking sites booming, but the characters, while some are more entertaining than others, are often bleak. The ‘Chat Nav’ concept almost seems wasted with viewers asked to advise these people with issues that have hardly caused a stir or any real impact in the 60 minutes they have to present themselves. Evidently, this is what happens when we take people from real life and not place them in the confinements of a luxury bedroom and a diary room chair replicating a fair ground waltzer. 7 Days is innovative and the location choice great; bu, it is the lack of consistency found in the developing of each individuals’ story, as well as the fact that not all the characters are entirely interesting, that is a real let down. You are left to wonder, was that all?