Ex-reality TV contestant praises supportive recruitment firm in coping with fame

A supportive employer has proven invaluable to a recruitment consultant in coping with fame following his stint on reality TV earlier this year.

Earlier this week, broadcasting regulator Ofcom announced it was proposing to add two new rules to its broadcasting code to protect the welfare and wellbeing of people taking part in programmes on TV and radio.

The proposed rules ensure that:

  • Due care must be taken over the welfare, wellbeing and dignity of participants in programmes.
  • Participants must not be caused unjustified distress or anxiety by taking part in programmes or by the broadcast of those programmes.

Stacey Freeman (pictured), head of perm division at Brighton-based recruiter Adenstar Developments, who appeared on Channel 4’s Shipwrecked earlier this year, welcomed the proposals.

He told Recruiter that Channel 4 was very good in dealing with him and there was always someone he could talk to when he was on the show. He also had to meet with a psychiatrist before and after appearing on the show.

However, Freeman admitted people do struggle especially if they go on shows as big as Love Island but he added he had been lucky, as he is a very positive person and has benefited from working at an agency that takes mental health seriously.

“When I came out [of the programme], I was too busy. I was doing seven days a week, getting up at 6.30am and going to bed at 12am, and it just wasn’t working for me. 

“They [Adenstar] noticed it and they wanted me to push on and pursue whatever career I wanted to do, as long as I gave to them as well, so I only work two to three days a week. 

“They believe in mental health and I wouldn’t be working to my full potential for them if I was having to do five days a week as well.”

Speaking about her own experience on reality TV, Joanne Davies, divisional manager – transport at Agenda Partnership, who made it to the final of Britain’s Got Talent 2014 with her dance troupe the Addict Initiative, told Recruiter that following the show she had an awful lot of media exposure, was recognised in public and her whole world changed.

“In all honesty I don’t think there is anything anyone can tell you prior that can prepare you for that level of attention and exposure. 

“What I will say is the Britain’s Got Talent behind the scenes staff handled everything incredibly to try and aid with this transition. There were psychological evaluations before the live shows, counsellors and even the judges would pitch in with advice of how to handle the stardom – however short lived it may be. They had a 24-hour help line if you just needed to talk and you could very much see the wellbeing of the BGT contestants was at the forefront of their minds.”

But Davies agrees that not all reality TV show the same attitude to a contestant’s welfare, adding she can see how that can be detrimental to a person’s reputation, anxiety levels and overall wellbeing.

“One thing may be said by a contestant and taken out of context; you may be having a bad day, throw a bit of a wobbly and that will be aired for the world to see. Or they could just make a poor judgement call that strips them of any dignity that they had. I hope these new rules will ensure there is a little more care taken when selecting the best material to be publicised. That footage won’t be manipulated to steer votes and instead the public get to vote on a person’s best qualities or talent and not on the basis that ‘Billy called Mary a bad name in the hot tub’, for example. 

“Personally, my experience with reality TV was the best experience of my life and the BGT staff did everything they could to ensure we were all very well looked after – and would I do it all over again.”

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