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Reality TV just took a competitive twist in the business arena in BBC Entertainment’s new series, Best in Town. Debashine Thangevelo looks at how this show, while entertaining, also doubles as a sort of consumer-watch offering.
A SHOW like Best in Town would be a hit in any country, provided it is adapted for the local market. Although, BBC Entertainment’s version makes for entertaining television, offering viewers a fly-on-the-wall perspective of how cut-throat the industry really is.
And let’s face it, it is a dog-eat-dog world with consumers spoilt for choice with businesses trying to curry favour by offering them the best deals in town. Aside from the rivalry, they have to maintain that competitive edge.
While large institutions are able to do this effortlessly because money does buy great PR and advertising, the little guys aren’t so lucky. So consumer satisfaction is even more crucial and, in a nutshell, that is how the idea for Best in Town was conceived.
In one of his interviews, presenter Richard Bacon revealed that, while canvassing for quotes for a basement to be installed under his house, he cottoned on to the idea for a TV series.
He said: “I had a guy come around and give me a quote and then a second guy came around. I said to the second guy: ‘Just to let you know, I’ve had a first quote – I don’t know if you’ve heard of the company’. And I told him the name. He said: ‘Well, I have heard of them and I will not say anything about them because anything I say will be negative’. It just made me think that if you can run a particular type of business in an area, of course you know who all your rivals are. Although London’s a big city, there aren’t that many companies offering basements – there’s only about four. And I knew, even before he spoke, that he’d think negatively of them because it’s human instinct in a way – it’s human nature that we don’t really like the people who do the same job as us on our patch. That was the starting point.”
The former TV and radio presenter says that content is adaptable and the show has the potential to be a hit whether you live in Delhi or Bogota.
In the 10-part first season, which features three rivals from different professions, he explores the world of dog groomers, photographers, dance teachers, florists, beauticians, personal trainers, children’s entertainers, cake shop owners, bike mechanics and hairdressers.
On how he homed in on these guys, Bacon revealed: “That was quite hard work. First of all, you’ve got to find people who want to take part. You’ve got a dual thing of casting people because you want them to be interesting and to be characters, and you’ve also got to convince them to take part in a programme. So actually, getting people to take part was the most difficult bit. Also, it’s a new show, so if you think of a programme like Come Dine With Me, which is now broadcast around the world, people want to take part because they’ve seen it and know what it is. I’d imagine, if you went back and spoke to the people who made the first series of Come Dine With Me, getting people to take part would have been harder because people are naturally suspicious.
“With Best in Town, we call and say: ‘Can we come to your business, film you and bring your rivals around? So that was hard. But I think as we do more and the show becomes better known, as with Come Dine with Me, it’ll get better.”
Of course, it is understandable that some business owners would be reluctant to take up the offer of a few minutes of fame. The outcome, should they not win, would be detrimental to their business as it would mean them endorsing a rival’s services by claiming they are the, “Best in Town”. On the flip side, it could be a great PR stunt that could put your business on the map.
Ultimately, it’s a risky gamble – but it does pay off for the deserving winners. After all, to be the best you have to beat the best!
• Best in Town airs on BBC Entertainment (DStv channel 120) on Mondays at 9pm.