The Quiz Show and ‘Ordinary’ People as Television Performers

Su Holmes

in The Quiz Show

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780748627523
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671212 | DOI:
The Quiz Show and ‘Ordinary’ People as Television Performers

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Long before reality TV, ‘ordinary’ people provided a core spectacle in the quiz show — the genre invites ‘ordinary’ people into the ‘special’ space of television. This chapter examines how this ‘ordinariness’ is necessarily a construction, and how this is played out within the particular generic framework of the quiz show. It examines the delimited roles on offer to the contestant (the relations of power in which they perform in the genre), and explores instances when contestants seek to disrupt the cultural rules of the game space. The chapter then examines how (much like reality TV today), there has always been a particular anxiety surrounding discourses of ‘authenticity’ where the quiz show contestant is concerned. The chapter ends by considering the predominance of white males in the genre, examining the marginalisation of women, and the (even greater) marginalisation of contestants from ethnic minorities.

Keywords: Quiz; Game; Power; Host; ‘Ordinary’ people; Authenticity; Performance; Gender; Ethnicity

Chapter.  9413 words. 

Subjects: Television

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