From the fixed phone-in quiz to the manipulated reality show, from Richard and Judy to A Year with the Queen, it has been a turbulent year for television. Indeed, Jeremy Paxman chose to devote this year's MacTaggart lecture to a controversial "plea for the soul of television." Many believe this crisis of trust has at last opened the door on the smoke and mirrors world of TV production, which has always relied on an element of artifice and cunning to engineer a sense of reality. In his new and timely exhibition - the return of the real - Phil Collins investigates the post-documentary culture which reality television has come to epitomise, and the accompanying issues of authenticity and illusion, intimacy and inaccuracy, expectation and betrayal.
Popular factual programming has been the central focus of Collins' multifaceted practice for the last four years. When the artist was nominated for the 2006 Turner Prize, he decided to use the world's highest profile art award to directly engage with the media, and in particular with the talk-show, makeover and reality-show formats which dominate 21st century television. In the galleries at Tate Britain Collins set up shady lane productions, a working office and HQ for his own production company, to create a film in which former participants who feel their lives have been profoundly affected by appearing on reality television came forward to tell their stories - uncensored and unedited.