How Has Big Brother Made It Through The Storm?

The perfect prey: A teen in a tub

Amid headlines about the UK turning into its own version of the claustrophobic house in Elstree – apparently the government are considering installing cameras in our toilets as well as authorising unwarranted conversation tracking – comes the news that reality TV show elder, Big Brother, is safe for another two years.

After months of intense discussion between Channel 5 owner Richard Desmond and show creator John De Mol, a deal has finally been struck which will keep BB in its Channel 5 home until 2014. “We’re hugely excited to have secured the return of Big Brother for Channel 5 which will continue to form a key part our programming schedule,” said Jeff Ford, director of programmes. And why shouldn’t he be excited? Big Brother has been a ratings success for Channel 5, pulling in an audience of about two million viewers a night.  A paltry figure compared to its original C4 form, but in its new incarnation on C5 – nothing to be sniffed at.

Back in 2010, Channel 4 relinquished its decade-long control over the show after series ten viewing figures sank by over a third on previous series runs and every TV critic from here to Good Housekeeping was heralding its decline. “Now Big Brother is dead, we must bury its corpse deep and pray it is never reborn”, trumpeted the Daily Mail. But those exclamations were heard only too clearly by Desmond, whose media empire – which includes The Daily Star, Daily Express, OK! and New! – was only too happy to prolong the anguish and publish exclusives with every no-hoper that makes an appearance. While some would rather have seen the return of Red Or Black as opposed to more Big Brother, countless others have lapped up Daily Star exclusives with the likes of 27-year-old wrestler Jemma Palmer…

Desmond saw what BB was all about back in 2010. He recognised the show for its I-snogged-a-teenager-and-got-my-boobs-out, wine-bottle-up-the-lady-garden potential. He saw that BB is a shameless attention-seeking diva and most importantly, he recognised the fact that his Express Newspaper group readers were happy for their trusty tabloid to be turned into a BB bible for several months of every year.

Tv gold - Tabloid heaven

The celebrity editions of the show have also proved hugely successful in their Channel 5 setting. Averaging a whopping three million viewers during the course of its first two runs, the likes of controversial housemates Frankie Cocozza, Denise Welch and Paddy Doherty have helped to keep the show at its eyebrow-raising best. So much so in fact, that the channel has now secured a second CBB slot for 2012 – a move which will cut the anonymous “originalâ€? version short. The Daily Star’s CBB website is already touting TOWIE favourites Harry Derbridge and Amy Childs as two of the next contestants…

Really, one has to hand it to the brains behind the whole BB comeback operation. Unable to survive on its own in the bleak TV wilderness surrounding its C4 slot, the hype that Desmond and his team have been able to create around every pasta shortage or duvet romp has ensured its survival. But gone is the intriguing social experiment which aired way back in the mists of 2000. Here to stay – for as long Channel 5 and the Desmond bunch keep control – is the shamelessly sex-fuelled show which spews out tabloid fodder from heaven.

Amy Childs and Harry Derbridge prepare to run the BB gauntlet?

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