Singing, tantrums and showdowns: 10 of the best reality TV moments

Hannah J Davies
·3-min read

Bad loser (Come Dine With Me)

The average Come Dine With Me episode goes something like this: soggy stuffed peppers, a quick rifle through the host’s knicker drawer, entertainment with 50% too much cultural appropriation, taxi. Except when one losing contestant, Peter, decided to flip the script with a tirade on winner Jane’s “sad little life”. Ten out of 10 for rudeness in a scene that has attained legendary status online.

‘David’s dead’ (Celebrity Big Brother)

Reality TV is not short of a toe-curling moment. Chief among these was when Tiffany Pollard thought that David Gest had died in the Big Brother house, after being told “David’s dead” by devastated fellow housemate Angie. It wasn’t a sick joke as Pollard assumed: Angie was referring to her ex-husband, David Bowie. It lent a sad event a moment of surreal humour.

Gillian McKeith faints on I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here.
Bushed … Gillian McKeith faints on I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here. Photograph: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

Gillian McKeith fainting (I’m a Celebrity …)

With years of experience poking around in other people’s poo on You Are What You Eat, Gillian McKeith seemed like the kind of strong-stomached individual who usually triumphs on I’m a Celeb, with its menu of kangaroo testicles and deer’s blood. But alas: just the mention of a live Bushtucker Trial saw McKeith buckle.

‘You ain’t ever gonna get this candy’ (The Only Way Is Essex)

Having honed her chatterbox ways as a car saleswoman, Gemma Collins kickstarted her TV career on Towie. Perhaps her most memorable scene was a showdown with on-off boyfriend Arg, where she warned him about slagging off her “slow metabolism”.

Antwane and ‘Tony’ (Catfish)

Catfish – the reality docuseries dedicated to exposing online dating deceit – is peak messy TV. And what could be messier than the tale of Carmen, who asked for the team’s help when she was, in fact, the catfish who had tricked her fat-shaming cousin Antwane into thinking she was a man called Tony. Confused? He was, too.

‘I was rooting for you!’ (America’s Next Top Model)

Tyra Banks’s temper tantrums on this modelling contest have proved divisive but never dull. Perhaps her most famous moment was her dismissal of contestant Tiffany with a string of screams, in one of the most dramatic TV exits ever seen.

Kim loses her earring (Keeping Up With the Kardashians)

It’s easy to be mean about celebrities: all you have to do is call them out of touch or spoiled. Or, you could leave that to their own families, such as when Kim Kardashian lost a $75k diamond earring in Bora Bora, and sister Kourtney launched a thousand memes with one line: “Kim there’s people that are dying.”

Darius sings Baby One More Time (Popstars)

Scottish showoff Darius Campbell-Danesh of Popstars and Pop Idol fame was a perennial source of entertainment, as well as having (whisper it) a pretty decent voice under all of the Olympic-level vocal gymnastics. Who could forget his Britney-flavoured Popstars audition, peppered with chaotic key changes and responsible for smashing 80,000 windows across the UK?

Ablisa (The X Factor)

With the benefit of hindsight, many talent show auditionees clearly needed a friend to gently unplug their microphones and crush their dreams before they turned up in an arena full of people. At the unforgettable-but-not-too-ethically-problematic end of failed auditions were Abby and Lisa – AKA Ablisa – whose woeful X Factor performance ended in a fist fight.

Wrong winner (Australia’s Next Top Model)

Before the Moonlight/La La Land debacle, there was a smaller but equally wince-inducing mix-up. In 2010, host Sarah Murdoch announced that she was “feeling sick about this”, having announced the wrong name in the final of Australia’s Next Top Model. “This is what happens when you have live TV, folks,” she said, nauseated.