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US TV shows fuel British boom in school proms

Programmes such as Glee and 90210 responsible for increasing popularity of US-style school-leaving parties, research shows.



US television programmes such as Glee and 90210 may have given more to British youngsters than rising intonation, saturated use of the word "like" and a lust for fame.

The small screen exports, coupled with the unheralded success of the High School Musical trilogy and other teen programmes, have contributed directly to a rise in the number of UK school-leavers attending proms, according to one hotel chain.

Prom attendees are now spending an average of £244 per student on the gatherings, according to research carried out by OnePoll for Holiday Inn, with parents set to shell out a total of £31m in the next year.

Holiday Inn says it has seen a 500% rise in the number of proms being booked at its hotels, and the chain says the surge has come as a direct result of the success of US television programming.

Glee follows the fortunes of a group of US high school students who sing in a choir. In the TV film High School Musical and its sequels, the decision of a basketball-playing Zac Efron and a bookish Vanessa Hudgens to audition for a musical turns – in Disney's words – " their world and their school upside down".

OnePoll's survey of 1,000 people found that 40% of 18-year-olds were planning to attend prom events this year. "The increase in US TV shows is having a huge influence with American-style proms in particular growing in popularity," said Holiday Inn spokesman Tom Rowntree.

"Over the past year alone we've seen a 500% increase in prom bookings at our hotels and each year they become more extravagant."

Pam Jones and Leanna Garant set up their Prom World business, based in the Midlands, earlier this year to respond to the demand for all things prom-related.

Jones agreed the exposure to US culture was having an influence on teenagers' desire for school-leaving parties.

"As a teacher myself, I've seen it with the kids – it's becoming more and more important for them," Garant said. "US programmes definitely have an impact.

"The kids are seeing they can have something special at the end of their school life.

"It does mark the end of their school life and the start of a new journey and it's important for them to have that last gathering together."
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Tags: 90210, glee (fox)
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