“I honestly didn’t believe broadcasting standards could slip any lower than seeing a pig masturbated on TV, but then I witnessed Pro-Celebrity Pornography,” laments top TV critic Gordon Labiff, describing the new ‘reality’ TV series which notorious broadcaster Channel Six (often dubbed ‘Channel Sex’ by the press), is using to spearhead its Autumn schedules. “Just having our screens blighted by the mere presence of such grotesque Z-list ‘celebrities’ as The Krankies and Bernard Manning is bad enough, let alone having them stripping off and competing for the dubious privilege of appearing in an adult movie with real porn stars!” Not surprisingly, Channel Six is robustly defending its new baby which, for the initial week at least, is proving a ratings winner. “It’s the ultimate development of the celebrity-reality show,” enthuses the channel’s Programme Director, Brian Numpty. “Let’s face it, things like Celebrity Love Island were really about whether you’d get to see some C-list micro-celebrities getting it on together, or even just catch one of them having a wank!” The show’s format incorporates elements from various tried and tested ‘reality’ TV hits such as Pop Stars, Big Brother and even Hell’s Kitchen, with – in the early stages – a group of ‘celebrities’ being incarcerated in a mock porn movie studio and performing ‘auditions’, on the basis of which they will be either selected by a panel of porn actors and directors for the main competition, or rejected. In an act of ritual humiliation, those rejected are thrown out into the street naked and penniless, and forced to make their own way home, with a film crew following them all the way.

Particularly notable incidents so far have included TV magician Paul Daniels trying to make his genitals vanish with a strategically placed flowerpot as he unsuccessfully attempts to board a bus, after being ejected when his ‘magic wand’ tricks failed to impress the judges, and the bloke from kids’ TV series Badger and Bodger being arrested for indecent exposure when a bestiality routine with his badger puppet failed to convince the panel that he should stay. “Look, they all knew this might happen to them when they signed their contracts – they knew the risks,” says Numpty, defending the programme against allegations of excessive cruelty. “In fact, when they see what’s in store for the surviving contestants, they’ll probably think that they got off quite lightly!” Indeed, in the coming weeks viewers will see the selected ‘celebrities’ divided into two competing teams, headed by veteran porno stars Biff Gloy and Hedey Heights, and put through a rigourous training regime. “They’ll be taught the fundamentals of porn performing – faking orgasms, grunting and groaning techniques, stamina, holding erections and that sort of thing – by the experts,” enthuses Numpty. “They’ll have to perform tasks in the form of simulations and acting out scenes from popular porn films, with the public voting on which celebs they want eliminated – each week one will be thrown out!” The glittering prize awaiting the eventual winner is the chance to star in a porn movie alongside some of Britain’s top adult stars. “Even then, there could be a nasty surprise in store for our victor,” chortles Numpty. “The viewers get to decide exactly what the film is – Vinnie Jones, for instance, could find himself appearing in a gay porn flick and taking it up the jacksie!”

Despite the show’s popularity, the critics remain unimpressed. “This is just lowest common denominator tosh pandering to the public’s prurient fascination with public sex, and their voyeuristic fixation on celebrities,” declares Labiff. “If the contestants were members of the public instead of alleged celebrities, this poor excuse for entertainment would rightly be condemned as exploitation of the crudest kind! Not only that, but you’d have thought they would at least have tried to get some attractive looking celebs – I for one have no wish to see Danny Baker naked and simulating sex with a vacuum cleaner!” Rejecting such criticisms, Numpty defends his show on the grounds that, as well as being entertainment, it represents a serious sociological experiment. “We’re trying to see just how desperate these low-rent celebrities are to boost their fame and secure their celebrity status – how far are they willing to humiliate themselves? How often will they take it up the bum for the sake of celebrity? How many golden showers are they willing to endure?” he claims. “As for using members of the public – the punters just aren’t interested in seeing some fat bird who lives on a council estate get her top off. They can see that every Saturday night around pub chucking out time! By getting these micro-celebs naked, we’re stripping away their mystique; the public like to see that they’re really just like the rest of us when naked – ugly and wobbly. Besides, you’re not telling me that you don’t secretly want to know just how big Darren Day’s dick really is, whether Patrick Mower has grey pubes or whether Germaine Greer is a ‘screamer’!”

He also promises that during the course of the programme’s run, the contestants will regularly be faced with moral dilemmas. “The viewers will regularly be able to vote on which contestants need penis extensions, liposuction or boob jobs- if they refuse, it they could be thrown out,” Numpty explains. He also rebuffs Labiff’s complaints as to the ugliness of the contestants. “That’s the whole point of it – uncovering the hidden talents of the unlikeliest looking celebs! I mean, nobody would be surprised if somebody like Abi Titmuss proved to be natural porn performers (let’s face it, she’s had enough practice), but who would have thought that grotesque racing tipster John McCrirrick would turn out to be so proficient at fellatio?”

Other UK broadcasters seem set to follow Channel Six’s lead, with their own celebrity-based ‘reality’ shows. “There’s no doubt that celebrity humiliation seems to be flavour of the month with the viewers,” says Felix Munter, Head of Programming at Six’s arch-rivals, satellite broadcaster Celestial TV. “We’re revamping our pub-based drinking contest from last year, Booze Hounds, where teams from rival pubs tried to drink each other under the table without pissing themselves, puking or passing out, as Celebrity Booze Hounds. This time celebrity drinkers from fashionable London bars will take each other on to see who can hold their beer best. We’ve already shot a pilot where, contrary to all his on-air bragging, DJ Chris Evans proves to be a real lightweight, left slumped in a pool of his own steaming green piss after only eleven pints. Ray Winstone won that one by five pints and three shorts – he was still able to wreck the bar and have a drunken brawl with the bar staff afterwards!” The programme has been condemned by the government – which claims it is undermining its attempts to promote sensible drinking – before it has even been aired.

However, Munter doesn’t accept that the show will promote alcohol abuse and might encourage younger viewers to try and emulate the inebriated antics of their celebrity idols. “They’re not stupid, they know that these people are booze-raddled professional drunkards with years of experience behind them,” he contends. “Now, if they saw ordinary people like themselves being rewarded for getting falling-down drunk on TV, that might just encourage them to follow suit! That’s precisely why we pulled the original version of the show – it was just too irresponsible!” Channel Six, meanwhile, is already considering how best to follow up the success of Pro-Celebrity Pornography. “We like to be innovative and try to stay at the cutting edge of television,” says Numpty. “The only thing we can think of to top celebrity porn are celebrity autopsies!” Indeed, Numpty is already busy trying to secure the exclusive television rights to the post-mortems of any celebrities who currently appear to be on their last legs.