How BIG BROTHER Got Its Mojo Back!

By on 22 August, 2013

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With a string of flops connected to their biggest names, Channel Four must be lamenting somewhat on letting ‘Big Brother‘ go. Four is always going to attract more viewers than Channel 5, and I think if they had produced a series of ‘Big Brother‘ with the calibre of the one we have just witnessed, it would have been a massive hit for them.

So what went right? After the rise to fame of people like Jade Goody, Craig Phillips, Kate Lawler and Jon Tickle, ‘Big Brother‘ suddenly became a ticket to instant stardom for those who had no singing talent. A few weeks inside the Big Brother house, and suddenly you were let into VIP areas in nightclubs and making personal appearances for thousands of pounds. We entered into a culture of people being famous just for the sake of it, but like any fad, it had to end, and as ever, the status quo is regained and now genuine talent shows such as ‘X-Factor‘ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent‘ find stars. We are sick of people becoming famous for the sake of it, and even the TOWIE stars find themselves masquerading as fashion designers or boutique owners to at least make it look as though they do something for a living.

The last few years of ‘Big Brother‘ have been nothing more than a damp squib. What was once must-see television that could cause controversy and ensure huge viewing figures for Channel 4, became a yearly event for the die-hard fans only, and largely forgotten about by everyone else. When Channel 5 took it over, many scratched their heads and wondered why they had spent so much money on a dead horse. The Celebrity version always draws big viewing figures, but the ‘ordinary’ citizens largely get overlooked. But this year, something different happened. ‘Big Brother‘ became interesting again!

And why was this? Well, for one, the housemates were of varying ages. For a few years, all housemates have been under thirty, and with no disrespect to any younger readers, but most people get more interesting with age. The older you are, the more stories you have to tell, the more confident you are in yourself that you’ll stick to your guns even if it causes arguments. It is also interesting to see older people who have done it all, interact with young people who think they know it all and are part of a world the older people aren’t necessarily involved with.

For the first time in years, ‘Big Brother‘ became a social experiment again. We had a middle-aged mother and her insecure daughter. A pair of identical twins – one gay, one straight. A young man with 20% hearing and a very ordinary young London woman who worked as a dental nurse. In with these were mixed people who once-upon-a-time would have qualified for the Celebrity version. Dexter Koh, the self-proclaimed sugar daddy (aged 28) who made the papers because he once spent £120k on champagne in a nightclub. Gina Rio, a young woman who claims to live on a £10k monthly allowance given to her by her mother and once dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Spoiled Girl’ by the tabloids, and there were glamour models Sallie Axl and Hazel O’Sullivan. Let’s face it Lacey Banghard and George Salpa made the Celeb version, so it was interesting to see Hazel and Sallie make the ordinary one. Naturally some were in the house to raise their profile, but others were there for the craic.

Amongst the usual cat-fights and arguments, we witnessed the relationship between Jackie and Charlie, the mother and daughter, and how the shy and rather immature Charlie blossomed once her mother left the house. She then became the subject of a love triangle between Dexter the playboy, and Callum and ordinary guy off the street (she ended up with neither). It was also interesting to witness twins (who weren’t Jedward) and seeing how they were at once tightly bonded, but also two very separate people, forging different friendships and alliances within the house.

On Monday (19th August, 2013) was the final and the last two standing was Dexter, who had remained an enigma throughout his time in the house, and Sam, the deaf guy who was largely seen as a good egg. Sam went on to win and gave a quarter of his money to charity for the deaf and another quarter to his mum. I suspect had Dexter won, it wouldn’t have been spent so sensibly.

Another change this year was that the housemates were exposed to far more outside influences. Nominations were often done face to face. One week they were nominated by the loved-ones of their fellow housemates, who revealed insights into what the viewers at home were seeing rather than the face that they put on to each other. They had nominations played back to them, and were allowed to hear the opinions of celebrities who watching them. All these things caused great paranoia; and like archetypal lab rats, they turned on each other rather than blaming the great engineer of the whole situation – Big Brother. He was the one they ran to with their complaints and tantrums, tears and deepest secrets.

BIG BROTHER 2013 - TV Review! TOMORROW'S NEWS - The Latest Entertainment News Today!

Ian West/PA Wire

For me, Big Brother got its name from a book by George Orwell about mind control from a higher power, and the resulting effect this has upon society; and so should this be the true meaning of the television show – not a get rich quick scheme for the untalented and desperate. For the first time in years, ‘Big Brother‘ 2013 provided us with such an experiment and the results were fascinating.

Now, if only people would start watching Channel 5 a bit more, and they put the same calibre of contestants in, in 2014, they might just have the television hit of the summer.


About Karen Mason

Karen Mason is a London-based writer. She has published fifteen historical fiction novels and is currently working on her sixteenth. She is also an avid movie goer, with a particular preference for gritty British cinema and a weakness for Jason Statham films! Her music tastes stretch from Muse to the Cinematic Orchestra and she loves discovering new acts.

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