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.