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Reality TV Reality Bites

Why we have loved Big Brother

By
Big Brother logo 1

© Channel 4

I remember exactly where I was when I watched the first episode of Big Brother. I was sitting in my childhood home in York. I had only been in possession of my own TV for just over a month and I rarely left it alone for more than half an hour. I had been waiting for Big Brother to start since catching the preview show, which had advertised for contestants to take part in a "social experiment". It had been a massive success in Holland and there had been loads of sex and rude stuff going on, so there was an immediate appeal for a curious 16-year-old boy. I couldn't have guessed at that point how much of an impact this silly little reality show was going to have on the next 10 years of my life.

Nasty Nick is confronted by Darren in BB1
Initially, I believed that the only people watching Nick, Craig, Mel, Caggy, Sada and the rest were me and one of my closest friends. We talked about it endlessly, managing to form strong opinions on everything from Tom’s embarrassing erection, Mel’s flirtatiousness and Darren’s dull but slightly hypnotic behaviour with the chickens to Caggy’s laugh. The big talking point was obviously 'Nasty' Nick. At the time, we considered his note writing, fib-telling and general dastardly behaviour an absolute outrage. How dare this man break the rules of our favourite show? What happened next, we all know about, but from this point on I was hooked. No amount of sneering or despair from my parents could prevent me watching the show every year, through the good times (BB2, BB3, Celeb Hijack, BB10) and the bad (BB Panto, BB8, Celeb BB5).

Ultimate Big Brother - Nadia
Even on the show’s last day on air, I am still forced to question my passion for it. Series 5 winner Nadia has attempted to take her own life after receiving a negative response to to her return for the 'Ultimate' series. Strangely, nearly all contestants who have returned to the house after a spell in the outside world (Jade, Nikki, Jon Tickle, nearly the entire UBB cast) have come out worse second time around. Whether trying to ape their characteristics from the first time, having a false sense of what the public loved about them, or just realising that playing it boring and safe will get you a spot in the final, a second go was never as good as the first. In the case of Nadia, we can only hope that she's getting the help that she needs. In thinking that she would be immediately loved as much as she was the first time around, the crushing realisation that she actually wasn't very popular any more must have been painful, especially for such a volatile character.

160x120 bb8 house camera
But as we approach the grand finale, I'm not going to cast doubt on the psychological testing and duty of care that Channel 4 and Endemol have offered housemates down the years. It certainly shouldn't be cast aside, but that's for another day. Equally, I will spare you my sixth-form philosophising about the significance of Big Brother, its post, post-modern slant on the world, and some waffle about it being the only truly "real" reality show. However, as we reflect back on the programme this evening, I do think it's worthwhile taking stock of the staggering effect its creators have had on the TV landscape since the turn of the millennium. Its interactivity, its online feed, its huge phone votes, its sister shows and its constantly creative and evolving production team are rarely given the credit they deserve.

160x120 bb8 day20 carole
Of course, as with any programme that runs for over a decade, there will be lulls. Big Brother 8, which was my first year working at DS, was a bit of a stinker, with some truly horrid housemates and a load of botched tasks. But even during the leaner years when the press turned against the show they once loved, it has continued to evolve. Series 10, for my money, had one of the greatest and most intriguing bunch of housemates of all time, while the final celeb and summer runs this year have proved that even if Channel 4 isn't interested anymore, the task teams, editing teams and creatives are still very passionate about the show. Hence, the glorious Tree Of Temptation, the Ignore The Obvious and Glee Tasks, everything with Stephen Baldwin and the arrival of Sam Pepper.

Kinga masturbating with a wine bottle
Everyone has a favourite Big Brother moment. Craig confronting Nick. Brian's outrage at the arrival of Josh. Helen and Paul's romance. Kate's dodgy dancing. The Jade-isms. Jon Tickle's nerdishness. The Jungle Cats rumbling for a fight in BB5. Victor's Diary Room banter. Nadia's victory. Makosi and Anthony in the Jacuzzi. Kinga and that bottle. Craig's passion for Anthony. Sezer's eviction. Nikki's outbursts. Aisleyne taking on everyone. Brian Belo and Samanda's constant enthusiasm. Luke and "put them away, Rebecca". Rex wasting the shopping list money. Anything featuring Marcus The Irrepressible Dark Horse. The Alice In Wonderland task. George Galloway as the pussycat. Prestelle. Bonkers Barrymore. The Feltz breakdown. "Yeah, it's Jackie". Verne Troyer's drunken rampages. I couldn't possibly choose one. Thank you Big Brother, I loved every minute of it.... even Big Brother 4.

Gos in the Big Brother 4 Diary Room Chair

© Rex Features



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