Edgware mum Nikki Tapper loves nothing more than putting her feet up in front of the telly with husband Jonathan and their two children.
But come Wednesday evenings, the family find they are viewing something very familiar — scenes of the four of them watching TV.
The Tappers are one of the subjects of Channel 4’s compulsively watchable series Gogglebox, which is now in its second season. The show’s premise is simple enough — video cameras observe reactions to selected TV programmes from a variety of families and couples dotted around the country. We see amusement, revulsion and, in Nikki’s case, unquestioning adoration of Gary Barlow.
In an era of “structured reality” shows such as The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea, one of the attractions of Gogglebox is that it is refreshingly gimmick-free. Each week, Nikki, 40, husband Jonathan, 46, and children Josh, 16, and Amy, 13, are shown voicing often conflicting critiques.
The Edgware Synagogue members were introduced to the show’s producers after Nikki made it to the final stages of Channel 4’s Jewish Mum of the Year contest. A researcher she had met referred the Tappers to the makers of Gogglebox, suggesting they would be perfect for the pilot.
“We hadn’t had the greatest couple of years of luck,” Nikki recalls. “I was ill and we just thought it would be nice to come home and focus on something together. But we never realised how successful the show would be.”
Launched in March, Gogglebox became an instant hit and a second series, now being broadcast, was quickly commissioned. Now the Tappers are making the transition from being avid viewers to reality stars.
“It’s all gone bananas,” says Nikki, whose own TV favourites include X Factor and chat shows such as Graham Norton.
“It’s quite surreal, actually. I was out with my son in Brent Cross last week over half-term and he was in hysterics because people kept stopping us and shop assistants were going out of their way to help us.”
If the face of Jonathan Tapper rings a bell, it is because he once owned Bloom’s in Golders Green. Now working as an executive chauffeur, he finds that many clients and passers-by recognise him from the show.
“People stop him in airports, in the car park, and he’s always having his photo taken. He’s really enjoying it,” Nikki reports.
There is also a Gogglebox audience among pupils and staff at Borehamwood’s Yavneh College, which Josh and Amy attend.
Nikki teaches at the Michael Sobell Sinai nursery, where mothers say they often pause the programme so that “Mrs Tapper” can be pointed out to their children.
“People can relate to it,” she concludes. “When it first started, the actual thought of watching someone watch the telly seemed so ridiculous. But we’re completely ourselves, doing what everyone does.”