These shows and a number of others (usually also competition-based) became global franchises, spawning local versions in dozens of countries.
Reality television as a whole has become a fixture of television programming.
Precedents for television that portrayed people in unscripted situations began in the late 1940s.
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Television formats portraying ordinary people in unscripted situations are almost as old as the television medium itself.
Producer-host Allen Funt's Candid Camera, in which unsuspecting people were confronted with funny, unusual situations and filmed with hidden cameras, first aired in 1948, and is often seen as a prototype of reality television programming.
Confession was a crime/police show which aired from June 1958 to January 1959, with interviewer Jack Wyatt questioning criminals from assorted backgrounds.
The radio series Nightwatch (1951–1955) tape-recorded the daily activities of Culver City, California police officers.
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Reality television is a genre of television programming that documents supposedly unscripted real-life situations, and often features an otherwise unknown cast of individuals who are typically not professional actors, although in some shows celebrities may participate.
The 12-part 1973 PBS series An American Family showed a nuclear family (filmed in 1971) going through a divorce; unlike many later reality shows, it was more or less documentary in purpose and style.
In 1974 a counterpart program, The Family, was made in the UK, following the working class Wilkins family of Reading.
Reality television has faced significant criticism since its rise in popularity.