For a show that has helped changed the lives of countless people over the last few years, the criticism levelled at RTÉ’s Operation Transformation is somewhat perplexing.
An opinion piece published in The Irish Times last week led to widespread debate after the author, Dr Jacky Jones, labelled the hit TV programme as a ‘superficial reality show’.
There have been, almost inevitably, angry ripostes to the piece with the show’s producers feeling the need to release a statement outlining its virtues and, more significantly, its impact on people from each corner of the island.
It’s worth, as a programme and initiative, at a time when Ireland’s obesity rates are swelling out of control, cannot be understated.
We’re proud of the contribution the show has made to Irish health awareness over the last eight years.
Admittedly, there are elements of Operation Transformation that are dramatised – the weekly weigh-in when the five chose leaders must appear on national television in nothing but Lycra is an obvious example – but if the show is, slowly but surely, improving the health of this country do the means really matter?
Operation Transformation started out as television and radio programme in 2008 with an eye on changing the country’s attitude towards health and fitness but the show’s producers also wanted to tap into the lucrative ‘reality TV’ market.
There are other examples such as Biggest Loser in other countries but Operation Transformation has developed into something much more than a weekly, half-hour broadcast for our, the viewer’s, entertainment purposes whilst we sit on the couch. Last year, producers sold the rights to Dutch and Belgian TV stations.
It’s no secret that the show’s longevity is down to its ratings. The recent media attention surrounding the comments made by one of the experts to a leader after she failed to meet her target underlines the popularity of a show that has become a platform for people to tap into.
Anybody that is familiar with the show will appreciate the worth of Operation Transformation, not just to individuals and families, but to communities and towns across the country. Whether it’s the weekly walks or the new menus rolled out in cafes and restaurants, Operation Transformation is shining a new light and encouraging a healthy, and active, lifestyle like no other person or institution has ever done in Ireland.
Sure, critics can voice their opposition to its motive but when the Minister of Health, Leo Varadkar, is quoted on the show committing to new legislation which will make it mandatory for calories to be shown on all menu boards in every pub, bar, restaurant and takeaway then it’s doing something right.
There’s a lot to be said about Operation Transformation and the good it’s doing for this country. Its well on the way to creating a legacy beyond its existence and regardless of what one detractor says, Operation Transformation is, in the grand scheme of things, the most significant television show ever produced in Ireland.
What do you think about Operation Transformation? Is is worthwhile or are the producers only after ratings and revenue by tapping into people’s insecurities?