BB2’s Stuart Hosking Interview: Big Brother The Musical

stuartbb210x300Stuart who?! I hear you cry.  Really old chap, I do believe your memory is hanging in chap-like leathery tatters, much like the fronds of those inappropriate trousers Christina Aguilera wore in the video for “Dirrty” back in 2002.

Why, Stuart Hosking of course – the Nasty Nick of BB2, co-inventor of the Tea Bag Bin, master of the receding hairline: a true Renaissance man.

So what’s next for such a highly revered, successful Big Brother reject? Another hair-brained moneymaking scheme – otherwise known as The Big Brother musical. Now we aren’t exactly fans of Current TV’s Desperately Seeking Fame output – but even we have to admit, this just might be crazy enough to work.

Huzzah Mr Hosking! Our hats off to you…

So tell us a bit about the Big Brother Musical?

Well, to cut a long story short, Chris Moyles was talking to Andrew Lloyd Webber about various musicals and I had already had an idea about putting a Big Brother musical together. We started to spur the idea on a bit more, so I was approached by Current TV to talk about what I was thinking, why would I want to put a Big Brother musical together, would it interest the people, and this has started to really take shape since about February this year. So I’ve met Andrew Lloyd Webber’s people and spoken to Endemol. We’ve taken a look at the variety of musicals that are out there and have been asking whether we could create something that a) people would want to come and see and that b) would be interesting enough to continue on the history of Big Brother.

How much of an influence are the real Big Brother characters and franchise going to play?

We want to create a new Big Brother feel and experience, in the West End. If we’re going to generate a real stage musical we need to use people with the appropriate experience. We need experienced artists to play the main characters. This is no slight on the real Big Brother contestants but we need people who are properly trained, who can sing and dance.

The reason that I went to Endemol was to make sure they thought that the musical was a good idea and that they are happy to endorse it. We need to use the logos, we need to use the voiceovers and even the part of Davina onscreen. If I’m going to give people the real Big Brother experience I’ve got to have that.

The whole idea of the musical is to give 1,500 people the chance to experience their fifteen minutes of fame on Big Brother. One idea might be to, not necessarily get them on stage but to pick out a good guy and a bad guy in the crowd. Then the audience can boo the bad guy – the bald guy sitting in at the end of Row 32 can get booed by all his friends and 1500 other people sat in the audience. I mean, only a select few get to go on a show like Big Brother, this West End show almost gives them a little piece of that and they could be sitting there thinking “Oh my god, that could be me.”

So it would have that pantomime element as well?

It needs to, because Big Brother is pantomime. It’s very much changed since the beginning. I did my show back in 2001, it was the second series and it was still very much a social experiment in terms of the types of people that were used. It’s got bigger and bigger as its gone on, and people are much more media savvy. They talk about getting themselves in Heat magazine and all this.

Big Brother’s target market is 18-35 year olds, and those are the kind of people that the theatres are desperate to get into the West End because the average age of the current theatre-goer is a 42 year old woman.

It’s now the tenth series of Big Brother, do you think that its time is coming to an end? Are we going to see the Big Brother phenomenon dying out?

For me, if it ends that’s fantastic for the theatre show because we’ve just got a continuation of it but I don’t think it will. I think the fact that it can still attract 3.5 million regular viewers and it still has an audience and it still makes money for Channel 4.

Over the years, I’ve found that we’ve been lumped together and called “those Big Brother people” so I’ve got to stand back, hold my hands up and say ” You know what guys, I did it for really, really good reasons and if you want an intellectual conversation with me, I can give you one. You see reality TV change, where the critics now are becoming hypocrites because they are the ones that are wanting to go back into reality TV to re-start their careers.

Why do you think Jade Goody was one of the most successful Big Brother contestants of all time?

It’s all a matter of opinion. I think you’ve got people like Brian Dowling who’s done SMTV and has a fantastic career ahead of him and people like Alison Hammond who is a regular on GMTV and has a star slot. The thing is, she finished 4th in the programme and got booed out so she wasn’t very popular in BB3 but I think Max Clifford has done a fantastic job of bringing Jade Goody to a different level. It’s been an interesting phenomenon, put it that way.

Do you think it has been important for you to maintain your integrity and not become the kind of media wh*re that typifies Big Brother?

Let’s be brutally honest, in the times when I did Big Brother it had peak viewing audience of ten million people. There are many actors and actresses that would die to get that type of regular audience figure. Every night with those sorts of figures, you end up with a media career and I think in the early days people were fairly new to that.

I think now you have lots more reality TV shows and it’s changed the way that people watch TV. It did give people like myself an opportunity, I didn’t go into it to achieve a level of celebrity, I ended up with it by default.

Celebrities aren’t born in a special little place, in a special little bubble and then suddenly presented to the world. I started stacking shelves as a kid so the fact that I got some recognition and some adulation from Big Brotheris that I’m using that to my advantage to make some money for my kids. It just happens to be a different career and the difficulty is that as Big Brother contestants, even though we are all individuals, we are all considered the same.

That’s disappointing when there are some people who have been on Big Brother, who do let the side down. They don’t act very well in public, they don’t portray themselves very well and that reflects badly on the rest of us so there is a sense of having to stand back and say, ” You have to treat me as an individual, you can’t lump me in with everybody else.”

Sally McIlhone