Is Big Brother Beyond Saving?

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eeerrrmm.. A little help?
So Heaven Africa (?!) has been evicted. Do you know who she is? Do you care who she is?

She is the latest “crazyâ€?, young, attention-seeking Big Brother contestant to be told that she’s not ‘special’, ‘unique’ or ‘real’ ..but plain old annoying. And only 1.26 million viewers watched her exit the once-legendary house. It now seems like an embarrassing skeleton in our viewing past but we have to admit it. There was a time when the Friday night eviction and extended programme was the highlight of our TV week. For some of us, Big Brother was actually cool.

Ditched by Channel 4 last year after ratings continued to plummet to new lows, Richard Desmond picked at the carcass of the once-popular reality show in a bid to relaunch Channel 5. His plan seems to have primarily consisted of stopping the live feed – the one thing which made the show utterly unique and pleased 24-hour fans. Just 900,000 tuned in to watch Sunday night’s hour-long episode..

His papers certainly are now rammed with BB housemate exclusives, the problem is that nobody really wants to read all about them. Last year’s final Channel 4 series pulled in a fairly poor 3.2 million viewers for the opening five installments but its Channel 5 reincarnation has made those figures look positively triumphant.

Friday’s eviction show had held on to just 1 million viewers by the time Heaven Africa’s 15 minutes of interview fame was over. Host, Brian Dowling, was whooped by previous BB matriarch Davina Mccall in a cruel twist of fate which pitted Channel 5’s BB offering against McCall’s (frankly) pretty average The Million Pound Drop Live on Channel 4.

But why is the show which went on the spawn generation after generation of reality shows, failing so epically? Well here’s our assessment..

The Fans:
Perhaps one of the most significant reasons behind the tragic demise of one of TV’s original reality shows. Losing the opportunity to watch 24 hour action from inside the house has ‘ruined’ the show for many hardcore fans. If you make the mistake of pissing off such a group of dedicated aficionados, you risk everything.

The Freaks:
Most of the contestants in recent years have been odd. You would get off the bus early to avoid sitting next to them kind of odd. Or else, they are so sex-mad and keen to get their boobs on television that it is uncomfortable to watch. Think back to the harmless panto fun of Nasty Nick (boo, hiss) or Craig the builder – who won because he was really “niceâ€?. What?! The influx of ‘crazies’ was bound to happen, but they only seem real when you have relatively normal people in the house to throw them into relief.

The Format:
The original (but no longer best) reality show is coming across like an embarrassing dad doing the funky chicken at a school disco. The show itself now features background music, montages and editing techniques that make the show feel more like a TOWIE-wannabe than its own original mix of raw, supposedly unedited, reality. This year’s line-up includes under 30s ONLY. With TOWIE’s characters seemingly caught in the same 18-30s time warp, the parallels are ever increasing. What used to be an interesting experiment has morphed into something very different..

The Flavour:
Of course we all love the fact that Marcus Bentley’s dulcet Geordie tones still guide us through the viewing experience, but the very essence of the show has evaporated under its own neon lights. No longer do we watch relationships bloom slowly in voyeuristic ecstacy. We are now invited to watch busty blondes being repeat spray-tanned and plenty of boobalicious bikini shots. It‘s just too damn blatant to be even mildly entertaining any more.

Big Brother continues to stagger around TV listings like a drooling zombie. It is long since dead and Channel 4, with its commitment to seeking out the best of new and inventive programming jumped ship just in time, only just. The question is, will Desmond have the courage to go straight for the jugular and lay it to rest for good…or will he dismember it year by year until we are left with nothing but a bloody stump to gawp at?

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