The Valleys: MTV defends south Wales reality show

The series follows nine young people sharing a house in Cardiff

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The TV channel behind a new reality show based on the south Wales valleys has defended its portrayal of the area.

MTV's The Valleys, which launches on Tuesday, follows nine young people as they move in together in Cardiff.

Their house features rocking-horse sheep and leeks on the wallpaper, but MTV officials insist that "it's absolutely not about stereotyping".

An online group has begun to defend the area and singer Charlotte Church has called the series "horrific".

Start Quote

Charlotte Church

I think it will be exploitative and a horrific representation of the country that I love”

End Quote Charlotte Church Singer

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant tells Jamie Owen that the show is "patronising", while former Big Brother contestant Glyn Wise says any publicity for Wales is good publicity

The online campaign The Valleys are Here claims it offers a fairer representation of the challenges and opportunities offered by life in the south Wales valleys.

During the course of the TV series, the cast are followed by cameras as they work and socialise in the Welsh capital.

Alex Bevan, who helps to run the The Valleys Are Here, said: "People feel very annoyed about it already.

"Right from the off the press release was pretty arrogant and quite patronising about the place.

"They said we lived in the rolling countryside, and they promised to rescue people from obscurity."

Advertising revenue

The group is writing to MTV to ask for 5% of advertising revenue to be donated to a valleys charity.

The broadcaster has declined to comment on that request.

Some celebrities from south Wales have welcomed the new series.

Former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas, from Bridgend, tweeted that he will be watching the programme.

Steps singer Ian "H" Watkins from Cwmparc, Rhondda, has been involved in promoting the series for MTV, and told his Twitter followers that they will be "addicted" to the programme.

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I feel whenever you make a successful reality show, there are always some accusations”

End Quote Kerry Taylor MTV

But others have condemned it.

Cardiff-born singer and TV presenter Charlotte Church has said: "I think it will be exploitative and a horrific representation of the country that I love".

But MTV's director of television, Kerry Taylor, told BBC Wales: "It's absolutely not about stereotyping."

She added: "I feel whenever you make a successful reality show, there are always some accusations.

"But the show is absolutely celebrating these nine young people and their mentors. It's very much about their individual stories."

'Jaw-droppingly funny'

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood - from Penygraig, Rhondda - said she had no intention of watching the show.

"It looks to me that it's going to be a typical cheap and tacky over-promoted television programme," she said.

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant wrote in The Independent: "I do find it brutishly cynical in the extreme to fashion a money-making venture out of supposed 'reality' that is as fake as a Towie [The Only Way Is Essex] tan."

TV critics who watched a preview of the first episode have given it mixed reviews.

Heat Magazine called it "the rudest, brashest and most jaw-droppingly funny reality show on TV" while the Western Mail labelled it "outrageous and crass".

The series begins on Tuesday at 22:00 BST on MTV.

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