About Us

Contact Us





by Debbie Hill

Perhaps it is some serious kind of voyeurism on the part of the television watching public, or some kind of desire to fulfil our own curiosities by the intrusion into those private and often intimate moments of others, but whatever the reason, Big Brother has fuelled the fantasies of a nation. The papers have been full of leaked tales of Nick receiving sneaky phone calls on his mobile in the dead of the night, reports of the Sun dropping leaflets about what Nick is really like, from a helicopter down onto the Big Brother garden, gossip about Randy Andy and just about any other tasty titbit of scandal that the press can dig up about the contestants. Big Brother is truly interactive TV, as it is live on the web around the clock, broadcasting, while most of us are dreaming of getting away or doing something exciting and different. Unlike the ten chosen ones in the Big Brother household. I think the appeal of the real life genre, including the Big Brother series, is that it shows normal people getting the kind of attention that at some point in our lives, we all crave. It shows ten ordinary people thrown into an unnatural environment and gives them a very desirable, high profile fifteen minutes of fame. (Well , 24 hours continuous fame actually - Ed)

We don't love and hate these people for being big stars or for living amazing lives but simply for being normal and for being themselves - as themselves as they can be under the constant surveillance of the cameras. For the not so popular Sada, who was the first to be voted out of the house, life is on the up. Having been offered a contract as a TV presenter since she came out (that sounds just like she is an ex-convict) she made a comeback appearance with Andrew to present the evicted Caroline with some flowers. Dressed in what looked suspiciously like a pink Versace outfit, she had the well groomed appearance of one who has had her hair revamped and spent several days in a beauty salon. Far be it for me to be cynical, but this would not have happened if she weren't so, well, pretty, blonde and slender.
Can Mel Win? She looks best in underwear.

It seems that looks get you everywhere these days, especially if you show that you are unafraid to bare your soul - and your bum - to the invisible cameras, although you'd have to have the hide of a rhinoceros to withstand all the criticism levelled at you in a situation like the Big Brother one. There will always be someone who can't stand you and as the viewing figures top the millions, probability ensures that the numbers could be very high. Jaye Walker, who took part in Housemates from Hell (a similar scenario to Big Brother but broadcast over the radio) earlier this year takes the emotional repercussions of such an experience very seriously. He believes that viewer criticism could be very damaging to the self esteem of the people involved, if they are not strong enough to cope with such personal attack. The people picked for the Big Brother experiment are by the nature of the programme, self confident extroverts and in many cases arrogant as well. It wouldn't be possible to be seen naked in the shower if they weren't, which is why all the men have toned physiques and none of the women are overweight - they are mostly exercise obsessed, with slim, attractive figures. That is not to say that none of them would care about being disliked by the viewers or their fellow house mates. You had only got to look at Caroline's hurt facial expression when Davina McColl showed her that Nick - who had comforted her when she was once again on the list to be voted out - had consistently voted for her to be the next one to go.

Leaving aside the obvious seventy grand incentive, I find it hard to understand what would make a person want to be watched on the loo and generally be seen at their worst: in a foul mood; drunk or in that first thing in the morning condition which only your most nearest and dearest are allowed to see? It is like hanging yourself out to dry with your washing. It's revealing that the people who have been ejected from the house have been offered post-Big Brother counselling. I bet they'll need it. Particularly hard for the last few to leave the house, will be the shock of almost getting the money but having it whisked away when they can almost smell the newly pressed bank notes. Aside from the money, will be the stress of having to muddle along with a group of people that they didn't always get along with or having to cope with things such as missing a daughter's birthday, as in Darren's case. Or missing the opening times for the store cupboard and spending hours with no milk and thus no mood calming cups of tea. (for Sada it was the lack of Tofu).

It is bad enough in university halls when there are large groups of people living together where there are bound to be personality clashes. Even worse when a group is forced to stay in a confined space and has been manipulated by producers who have chosen people with strong, flirtatious characters that are all trying to get the most attention. It has been suggested by a media source that Nick was planted in the house by Channel 4 to stir up the rest of the house; hype which has been further fuelled by a Daily Mail journalist who thinks he knows Nick from somewhere, but can't quite place where he met him.
Bad Nick is he a plant?

TV producers know that there is nothing better than a good old fashioned bit of back stabbing to get the viewers hooked and if the rumours are true, Nick has certainly been cooperating. The whole thing is like a big regression exercise for insecure adults. Big Brother is a strict but manipulative parent and the volunteers are simply performers who are encouraged to talk about different subjects and perform certain tasks so that the viewers can observe their petty and predictable differences of opinion. I am hooked because I find the development of the little cliques within the house fascinating. Who gets on with who and why gets me every time, especially when the rigid rules of their existence - the food rationing and the housework duties - and the lack of privacy means that tempers get frayed and the contestants are forced to be around those very people they don't get on with. Let's not forget that these people know that they are being watched, which makes it very difficult to judge whether they are genuinely being themselves or simply acting to the audience they know is there.

For some of the participants, ignorance is definitely bliss when it comes to what the public thinks, but if they really cared what other people think they wouldn't surely have made such huge efforts to be in that house. The competition was intense as those ten people were chosen from 45,000 hopefuls eager to become shut off from the outside world with no TV, no newspapers, no radio and absolutely no contact with family and friends. As the weeks go by and the numbers in the house drop, it will be interesting to see whether the atmosphere changes and becomes more competitive as the possibility of the money becomes closer to reality for the contestants. There will always be some people who will do anything for money and as long as Big Brother provides such great entertainment and the best television theme tune of the year in the process, who am I to argue.


< Back to Index
< About the Author
< Reply to this Article