The Greatest Shows on Earth
About the Show
Daisy Donovan gets to grips with some of the most popular television shows in the world, exploring how they reflect the societies that watch them
Series 1 Summary
Daisy Donovan gets to grips with some of the most popular television shows on the planet, finding out how societies - and particularly the roles of women - are brought into sharp relief by the TV they watch.
Episode 1 - Brazil
Daisy visits Brazil, looking backstage as it prepares to explode onto the world stage with the World Cup in 2014 and Olympics in 2016. She finds extremes of television, from programmes objectifying and humiliating women to a bloody version of Crimewatch.
She goes behind the scenes of Brazil's most revealing talent show, Miss Bum Bum, where young women go cheek-to-cheek to decide who has the best backside. Although it's shocking to her eyes, Daisy learns that Brazilians regard the programme as a harmless celebration of the female form.
Digging deeper, Daisy discovers a darker side to the froth and frivolity of Brazilian entertainment TV when she meets an ex-member of the 'Panicats': a group of bikini-clad women who are subjected to what Daisy sees as degrading challenges in the name of TV entertainment.
Brazil has one of the highest crime rates in the world, as Daisy finds out as a live guest on Na Mira, a bloody version of Crimewatch. The programme is filled with shocking footage of dead bodies on pavements and buried corpses being pulled from the ground, and is scheduled at lunchtime after kids' cartoons.
Episode 2 - India
Daisy visits India, whose 1.2 billion people are obsessed by the small screen, with a staggering choice of 800 TV channels. She finds a nation caught in a titanic struggle between modernisation and ancient tradition: a battle that's being played out on the country's television screens.
From the oldest and most traditional art forms to Bollywood, dance is a huge part of Indian culture, and Daisy blags an audition for one of the biggest dance shows. And she meets seven-year-old Jeet Das, who became an overnight sensation after wowing judges and audiences on Dance India Dance, a fast-track to fame and fortune that leads thousands of hopeful child stars to audition each year.
She meets a Sikh group who are bringing their form of martial arts to thrilled and appalled audiences on reality TV. From eating glass to being smashed with sledgehammers and even run over by cars, the Warriors of Goja's routine is not for the faint-hearted.
Daisy gets the chance to become the first ever female Goja Warrior as she joins them on stage for a stunt.
And Daisy meets Bollywood legend Aamir Khan - India's answer to George Clooney - who hosts Truth Alone Prevails, a no-holds-barred talk show tackling issues from female foeticide and domestic violence to honour killings and child abuse.
Episode 3 - Egypt and Abu Dhabi
Daisy is sucked into a dark Egyptian prank show and then inspired by the most sublime talent show on earth.
Daisy meets the brains behind some of the cruellest pranks in television history. In Ramez Galal's latest hit show, unsuspecting and terrified celebrities are ambushed and taken hostage at gunpoint, which is a very real fear in the country, following the bloody revolution.
'That's the worst thing I've ever seen,' says Daisy, after watching a beloved Egyptian actor get the Ramez treatment. 'It's like a snuff murder movie.'
But when she tries to interview the notorious prankster, he locks her and her terrified director in a room and releases bats and snakes, including an eight-foot python.
After she gets out, Daisy heads to Abu Dhabi to participate in a huge home-grown reality TV hit that celebrates a very different aspect of Arab culture.
Millions Poet, the Arab world's equivalent of The X Factor, features contestants reciting poetry in ancient Arabic to 70 million viewers, and Daisy will be the first westerner to take part.
And she meets the only woman ever to reach the finals of the competition: a veiled housewife from Saudi Arabia called Hissa Hilal, who won £500,000 and received death threats after appearing.
**This programme was made before the recent troubles in Cairo.**
Episode 4 - South Korea
Daisy goes behind the scenes of TV in South Korea. She meets an online TV star who cooks - and eats - for an audience of people who live alone.
And she takes a role in the top-rated TV show where six top comedians, whose sense of humour is hard for outsiders to understand, face a series of madcap challenges.
With tensions between North and South Korea higher than they've been in decades, Daisy goes behind the scenes on Now on My Way to Meet You, an extraordinary Loose Women-style TV talk show featuring a panel of 15 female North Korean 'defector beauties' who chat, dance, share jokes and flirt with male celebrities.
But, alongside the chat and fluff, the women also reveal shocking details of their lives in the isolated dictatorship, including torture, starvation and brainwashing, and every show ends with a defector telling their heartrending story, and often looking for lost family members.
Daisy finds out about South Korea's obsession with gaming and meets a professional 'e-sport' team who live and train together 24/7 in a specially created residence and compete for hundreds of thousands of pounds in prize money, playing a sophisticated strategy shoot-em-up game on dedicated TV channels.
The Greatest Shows on Earth synopsis
Daisy Donovan gets to grips with some of the most popular television shows in the world, exploring how they reflect the societies that watch themEpisode Guide >