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Planned reality TV show could make town 'butt of jokes', warns mayor
A bid to create a The Only Way is Essex-style reality show in Watford could set the town’s reputation back years, the elected mayor has warned.
Dorothy Thornhill said she had worked the last decade to stop the town being "the butt of jokes" and was not pleased at prospect of We Are Watford making onto the nation’s TV screens.
However the people behind the show, which auditioning for cast members, insisted it will be "fun" and "family orientated" affair.
The show hopes to follow in the successful footsteps of other scripted reality series such as Made in Chelsea, which is are essentially soap operas based around real people.
Mayor Thornhill said: "They would undo in one fell swoop 10 years of my work. I have spent 10 years trying to turn [around] a town where people thought we were a joke, and the butt of people’s jokes, because whatever bad you want to find in a place you’ll find it.
"Watford is a microcosm of the whole country - all life is here. And if they are looking for bad and negativity, they’ll search until they find it. It won’t be a true and accurate reflection of our town. And it will set back all the work we have done promoting Watford in one reality TV show. [To say I am] disappointed would be an understatement."
This week Helen Crook, We Are Watford spokesman, said the show would be "family orientated" rather than seek to offend people.
She distanced We Are Watford from more salacious and trashy series such as Geordie Shore.
He said: "We are not looking to do it like Geordie Shore. We are focusing on the fun element. If footage contains bits that are not appropriate or are likely to offend people - stuff that might happen on a night out - we would take that out the programme.
Scene from Geordie Shore.
Creators say We Are Watford will not be like Geordie Shore
"We’re making it more family orientated. It will include people drinking and arguments, but mostly we’re just looking to show normal everyday life."
Ms Crook said the programme would start filming in January next year, with filming locations set to include Watford, Kings Langley, Abbots Langley, Radlett and Bushey.
Auditions for the cast will begin at the end of the month in Watford nightclub Cameo to find a cast of about 30 18-20-year-olds to star in the town’s answer to reality hits Made In Chelsea and The Only Way is Essex.
One applicant told the Watford Observer would promote the town as a fun and safe place to live and boost its economy by attracting people to the area.
Cassiobury resident, Sonya Ahmed, 26, said: "If they do it like The Only Way Is Essex, I think this show will improve Watford’s reputation.
"And it will bring people to the area - fresh faces, new boys.
"There’s been a bit of a slump in Watford businesses and I think this will really help draw more people in.
"And with all the redevelopment - it’s a big year for Watford next year.
"I want people to know how amazing Watford is."
On why she want to take part, Sonya added: "Everyone else has always told me to do it. I have drama in my life every week - it follows me, or I walk into it. I thought this is what they might be looking for."
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