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Real People

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Title: Real People  
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Subject: NBC, FSU Flying High Circus, Richard Simmons, Impalement arts, 1983–84 United States network television schedule
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Real People

Real People
Genre Reality
Starring John Barbour
Sarah Purcell
Byron Allen
Skip Stephenson
Bill Rafferty
Mark Russell
Peter Billingsley
Fred Willard
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
Producer(s) George Schlatter
Original channel NBC
Original run April 18, 1979 (1979-04-18) – July 4, 1984 (1984-07-04)

Real People is an NBC reality television series that aired from 1979 to 1984, on Wednesday and then Sunday nights. Its initial episodes aired live in the Eastern and Central Time Zones.[1]


Real People had the format of a comedy talk show taped in front of a large studio audience. Each segment featured a news report consisting of visits to people with unique occupations or hobbies, occasionally bringing some of them in-studio to interact with the audience. In its early seasons, Real People was NBC's most popular series, often scoring at the top of the Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In for NBC, the series also covered serious topics, such as war heroes.

Regular hosts included John Barbour, Sarah Purcell, Byron Allen, Skip Stephenson, Bill Rafferty, Mark Russell, Peter Billingsley, and Fred Willard.

The success of Real People led to a rash of imitators, the best known and longest-running of which was That's Incredible! which aired on ABC, and That's My Line on CBS, hosted by Bob Barker. Real People gave fitness instructor Richard Simmons his major break into the mass media, and spotlighted such unique talents as Pittsburgh Police traffic cop Vic Cianca.[2]

When repeats of the show was initially syndicated to broadcast stations, it was edited into 30-minute segments and retitled More Real People.

A one-hour retrospective special aired on September 16, 1991 with hosts Sarah Purcell and Fred Willard.

In 1980, NBC launched two attempts at spin-offs, Speak Up, America and Real Kids. The former, Speak Up, America, starred former child televangelist Marjoe Gortner and basically expanded the opening segment of Real People (in which audience members were encouraged to sound off about any topics they wished) into a full hour program. The latter, Real Kids, starred Peter Billingsley and a cast of child hosts in a format that mirrored Real People, but focused only on kids. Both spin-off formats quickly failed, though Billingsley went on to join Real People as a recurring host / contributor.[3]


  • 1979-80: #15 [4]
  • 1980-81: #12 [5]
  • 1981-82: #21 [6]
  • 1982-83: #30 [7]
  • 1983-84: Not in the top 30 [8]

References in other series

The show was spoofed on Sesame Street with Real Grouches, hosted by Oscar the Grouch who described his show as a program that "searches the world for interesting real-life Grouches and brings them right into your living room." Oscar's guests were Romeo Scuggs from Gila Monster, New Mexico; Luba Merquick from Slime Bottom, Arkansas; and "Bob the Blob". While the previous guests played terrible music, the Blob plays "yucky sweet flute music", and it is revealed that it was Bob McGrath disguised as a Grouch.[9]

The show was also spoofed on a 1980 episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, in which a fictional reality program, Real Families, featured hosts Peter Marshall and Daphne Maxwell taking a look at the daily life of the station's sales executive, Herb Tarlek (Frank Bonner), and his family.


  1. ^ "Let's Add a Kid!"TV Playbook: . IGN. Retrieved 2010-08-15. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "George Schlatter Biography - Yahoo! Movies". Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  4. ^ "TV Ratings > 1970's". Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  5. ^ "TV Ratings > 1980's". Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  6. ^ "TV Ratings > 1980's". Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  7. ^ "TV Ratings > 1980's". Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  8. ^ "TV Ratings > 1980's". Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  9. ^ Real Grouches on YouTube

External links

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