Irish public broadcaster RTÉ is celebrating 50 years of television broadcasting and one of the shows being re-broadcast is The Green Linnet. The Green Linnet in question was a drab green Citroen van based on the Citroen 2CV car in which two traditional musicians toured Europe and played music on the streets to earn their keep. The filming took place in 1978 and the series was shown in early 1979.
Watching a few episodes and a retrospective, I realised that the programme was an unintentional proto-reality show; as the filming caught the eventual frayed nerves of the musicians living in an artificially-created environment under constant surveillance. It was a pint-sized Big Brother house on wheels.
The constricted space in the van and their general condition got progressively grottier living on camp sites and spending every waking moment together. The Green Linnet pre-dated the Dutch show Nummer 28 (which is considered by many to be the first modern reality show) by some 12 years. The breakdown also mirrored highlights in MTV’s The Real World.
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