Real People

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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 ratings, and was a rare hit for the network at a time when NBC was a distant third in the ratings and struggling with numerous flops. Segments included "funny pictures" and funny newspaper errors sent in by viewers, who were awarded a Real People T-shirt. According to a 2008 interview with producer George Schlatter, who also co-created Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In for NBC, the show had covered serious topics like 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 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 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 starred Peter Billingsley and a cast of child hosts in a format that mirrored Real People's but focused only on kids. Both spin-off formats quickly failed (but 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 popular culture[edit]

The show was spoofed on Sesame Street with "Real Grouches", hosted by Oscar the Grouch. Oscar says it's the show 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 is Bob disguised as a Grouch.[9]


  1. ^ "TV Playbook: Let's Add a Kid!". IGN. Retrieved 2010-08-15. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  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[edit]