TV show ‘may not be type of image’ the Island wants

A TV show documenting the lives of Jersey’s ‘wealthy women’ may not be the type of image the Island wants to project – particularly in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, a local TV producer has said.

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In an article published by the Sunday Times this weekend it was reported that The Real Housewives of Jersey would be coming to ITV, with British producers looking to showcase the ‘tales of wealthy women enviously eyeing up one another’s assets’.

UK production company Monkey Kingdom – which has also produced Made in Chelsea – is rumoured to be filming the show later this year. It would follow the lives of Jersey housewives in a reality TV format. A similar show, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, has been running since 2009 and is one the most popular reality shows in the US.

While accepting the old adage that ‘any publicity is good publicity’, Alastair Layzell, a former journalist and States Deputy, who runs production company Colonial Pictures, said that he was not sure the show ‘was the type of image’ Jersey would want to promote, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘My sense over the years is that people have come here to take part in the community and keep a low profile. I’m not sure those people would want to be part of a series like this,’ said Mr Layzell.

He added that showing Jersey as overly affluent and wealthy might not be the best way to portray the Island in today’s society.

‘It’s a question of being in tune with the times,’ said Mr Layzell. ‘Bergerac, for example, was slightly criticised for the murders in the show and so on but everyone understood that it was a crime series, so that small criticism was outweighed by the benefit of seeing the Island so beautifully portrayed and nicely filmed.

‘Today, we are in different times where the idea of “bling” is, I think, slightly out of fashion – in the sense that we’re dealing with a pandemic and people are quite rightly concerned about others, so I’m not sure they would want to see that sort of portrayal.’

Local estate agent Margaret Thompson, who is rumoured to be a potential cast member of the show, did not wish to comment as to whether she would be involved. However, she said the series was a good idea.

‘I think any show that shows off our beautiful Island and its beaches is good,’ she said. ‘I’ve been here since I was 18 and I love Jersey, so I think it’s important to give something back to the Island we all enjoy.’

Tessa Hartmann, founder of the Jersey Style Awards, is also rumoured to be involved. Declining to comment on whether she would take part, Ms Hartmann said: ‘I think it’s a huge opportunity for the Island – anything we can do to give a platform to this amazing place in terms of encouraging retail and tourism is a great opportunity. So from an economical perspective I think it’s going to be huge.

‘One of the reasons we set up the Style Awards was to showcase all of the amazing businesses, heritage and culture that Jersey has, so any production that can do that is fantastic.’

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