Saturday, 11 September 2010

Bye Bye BB

I have struggled against it but I feel I have to mark the passing of Big Brother here in the UK.

It should have been stopped ages ago of course, but I have to admit that in the name of television history, I watched this final series of Ultimate Big Brother. It confirms why I gave up watching it by BB4 ….but all the same, there is something strangely addictive about the programme.

I remember I couldn’t wait for it to come to the UK as I was working in Holland when the first ever ever episodes were aired there in September ‘99. The following summer it was here and I was really keen to see how it worked as a social experiment. I was hooked from the beginning and often thought it would be an amazing learning experience to look at how you interact with a group of strangers and see how your faults and qualities develop with different personalities and to then hear what they think of you and say behind your back. I often imagined how I would cope with situations and people in the house and I loved the special programme they had on a Sunday evening in those early days with the psychologists, who explained why the housemates behaved they way they did. I really loved it.

I think I learnt a lot about myself too. For example it became so clear that even when a housemate was in the wrong and challenged by the others, although one or two would acknowledge their mistake instantly and apologise, the majority would defend their position and scream and shout to try and justify what they did or said, just so they wouldn’t have to back down. I realised pretty soon that was me. That I hated to be wrong and that especially with Ewan, I would go on and on until he was so confused that he would apologise. I have worked hard to change that behaviour over the years.

I also saw myself in a housemate called Mel. She was lovely but she enjoyed male attention and if I remember correctly she giggled, flirted and kissed at least four of them in the opening weeks. I thought her behaviour was atrocious but then realised I was so offended because it was exactly how I behaved. Any male interest and I would turn my face to the admirer as a flower looks up to the sun. It justified my existence. Made me feel worthwhile. And I could see all that in Mel and I saw how the other housemates didn’t like it at all. I remember thinking that I would stop being so pathetic where men were concerned but I clearly wasn’t that successful as I went on to have two affairs after that. I’m still working on it though and with the help of the therapist I think I am learning not to be so dependent on what men think of me.

I think the thing that struck me most was how much the evictions made me think of ….wait for it ….death! Finding out they were nominated was like housemates being told they only had days to live. Some of them were very philosophical about it, making the point that they all had to come out at as some time. Some made a decision to enjoy every last minute of the few days they had left and would often show a side we hadn’t seen before. And some spent their last hours in complete terror of the reception waiting for them outside – would they be booed mercilessly or cheered on by the crowds? But whatever their reaction to possible eviction, they all coped as they went through the doors. Some of them got terrible jeers and looked as if they wouldn’t be able to get down the steps but once they all spotted the heavenly Davina waiting for them, they seemed to find the spirit to go on and most of them then seemed to love the paparazzi attention and the crowds looking at them and shouting their name and their interview which in most cases gave them the strength to go on and face their new life.

It was a shame it it all changed and became an opportunity for fame hungry idiots to expose us to their stupidity. The whole social experiment went out of the window and I lost the point of what it was actually about any more.

I watched most of the Celebrity Big Brothers though and found it fascinating just being a voyeur. Not that I would ever admit to that – I was too ashamed! I prefered to tut-tut and shake my head and blame it for everything that is wrong with TV these days.

I think as it all comes to an end though it is time to, quietly, under my breath, secretly thank Big Brother ….and wish it well in that afterworld that is TV history.


  1. Outwardly I was always a snob where BB was concerned but must admit I was an avid viewer for some of the "middle" ones - before commonsense took over and I pulled myself away. The only one I really remember is the Leo Sayer one which was all very funny.

  2. I've never tried to hide or been ashamed of my love for BB. After the first one which sucked me in totally I tried to kid myself that I didn't enjoy it, so much so that I did not watch the second show. Got hooked anew for number three and again tried to fight it by totally ignoring number four. After that I decided to stop being in denial and just say it loud - I'm a big brother fan and I'm going to watch as much as I can.

    I remember Mel and her cute flirty little twirl where she showed us all her bum. She was pretty but quite hard and I seem to recall she was a right old shit to Alex (who I really liked). Boo to Mel and hurrah for Alex.

    RIP BB

  3. i agree...i remember watching the first couple seasons here in the state of both BB and survivor...and then it just got wonky and seemed to be peoples shot at their 15 minutes of fame...i think we can see things about ourselves through reality tv though...interesting...

  4. For me, BB died when the Irish Nun left the house (I think that was part the way through series one).

  5. I used to watch it, but went off it when they all started to be more self-aware and performed for the viewers. But it used to be great in the early days.

  6. I think we followed the first couple then kind of lost interest. Must admit to following people writing and commenting about the phenomenon quite avidly, though.

  7. I remember Mel...she was a bit of a offence!

    I'm like Steve - I was well into BB during the "middle" phase and also at the start - and I remember we both wrote a fair few posts about Leo Sayer and his underpants! And of course Jade Goody and her bloody awful Mum and their appalling treatment of Shilpa Shetty. However in the last few years I lost interest. Maybe it's that some of the housemates weren't so memorable and also the formula started to get quite stale. I think it's good that they've knocked it on the head now.