Posts Tagged: Big Brother

Farewell Big Brother – for now at least

So Big Brother is to be axed from Channel 4 according to an The Sun. Let’s hope the news is true. The show has really run its course. That has been said several times in the past but with ratings falling every year it was a surprise that Channel 4 signed another three-year deal with Endemol, meaning that an 11th series is locked in.

Last year Channel 4 showed its desire to chase ratings when it kept housemate Alexandra in (remember her? No me neither) despite proving one of the worst bullies the show had ever had the displeasure to host.

All the signs were there last year that it had run its course, but Channel 4 has ploughed on and has been rewarded with some of the lowest ratings in years for the 10th series. I think this is good news for Channel 4. Yes it leaves a hole in its schedule, but surely that is a creative opportunity as well and a challenge to be met?

Not only having ratings been low, but it was virtually ignored by the media. Even the stalwart Sun provided no haven. Not even a NIB, a tiny paragraph, each day has been warranted.

Channel 4 executives looking for coverage of their once cash cow must have been dismayed, or more likely depressed, by its absence from Britain’s media diet.

There is no denying that Big Brother has provided us with much entertainment. There was a time when casual viewers would more regularly tune in on a Friday to see an eviction (Channel 4 says 38m viewers watched Big Brother at least once – that’s 69% of population), but that time has past.

I suspect many of us could pass the housemates in the street this year and not recognised one of them. They are going to be more shocked by its axing than anyone. More shocked that they have been in there for more than 80 days and few will know who they are.

No D-List media careers are going to be kick started this year. What’s a former Big Brother contestant to do? Opening up a new branch of Lidl might be a stretch even for the winner which ever loser that might be.

According to reports though Celebrity Big Brother might still return and there’s nothing wrong with that. I can see that still have a good set of legs and exciting interest.

I can also see the format being adapted and tweaked. If it goes anywhere that’s what it needs most. New ideas. As it is the lack of innovation that has as much as anything done it for this show. It has turned into something relentless. Kind of like The Long March – but probably less fun (and not in China). Maybe it won’t be the same show exactly and maybe it won’t be on the same network. There is nothing to say that it has to be on Channel 4. You could easily see ITV or Sky having a crack at taking the format on. I’m pretty sure there is life in it yet – just not 13 weeks of life.

As that was the one thing above all others that struck me this year. It was more or less the only thing that struck me this year as the updates from the Big Brother press office popped into my in box was how the day count inexorably built.

Big Brother used to be much shorter and have fewer contestants, but when you get an email and the headers says day 67, 75, 80 and 84 you have to ask will this show never end? Well yes it will and it the very near future – but I’m pretty convinced that in some form or another it will be back.

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Jade Goody and the reality TV PR bandwagon of death

Last year I said something pretty mean about Jade Goody and I’m sorry. I wrote she had PR cancer and then it turned out to be real. My bad, but even as she lies wasting away it appears the PR bit was right. I just read Shilpa Shetty is making a final dash to her bed side.

This is all kind of very sad and I know a lot of people have been moved by Jade Goody’s plight.

Each day a new story appears about Goody’s last days, but as we speed towards the end of this born and bred reality TV celebrity story it feels as if it is spinning out of control.

The lines between what is decent, dignified and acceptable and what is a PR money grabbing exercise are as blurred as 2am in an Essex nightclub.

I was listening to the Today programme this morning on R4. They had the story that Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, who you will remember was branded ‘Shilpa Poppadom’ by Jade Goody in ‘Celebrity Big Brother’, has flown to Britain to “bid farewell to the cancer-stricken reality television star”.

Are there not real people that Jade Goody can see? People who give a frak rather than a minor Bollywood star?

We’re told that the two have become “good friends” since the whole racist incident and Jade Goody went to India last year and appeared on the Indian version of ‘Big Brother’ where she was fatefully told she was ill.

Shetty said: “All I can do is pray. I’m not giving up hope of seeing her one last time. I always want to remember Jade smiling, the feisty strong gregarious Jade, a true trouper.”

The arrival of Shetty on the scene came as OK! yesterday published its “tribute issue” to Jade Goody. I thought you had to be dead to get one of those so people could remember you in a dignified fashion.

Apparently not as OK! has a deal with Jade Goody’s people (Max Clifford) to get first dibs ahead of rivals. Apparently they did really well out of the wedding issue with bumper sales. Imagine what they will get if they beat everyone to the death/tribute issue.

There will be acres of more coverage. It will be well read I am sure. Jade Goody is doing much of this to ensure that her two children are provided for. Surely they are now. It feels like the cameras should be turned off, but there appears no chance of that.

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Does Channel 4 have a right to exist?

Does it? A god given right? I’m not sure it does. Channel 4 needs to accept facts, embrace the future, and realise with few options left its future lies with Five.

Looking at Channel 4 what’s clear is that you can watch a lot of what it broadcasts on any channel. Think about it: ‘Big Brother’, ‘How to look good naked’, ‘Property Ladder’, ‘Location, Location, Location’, ‘A place in the sun’, ‘Half ton son’, ‘Grand Designs’, ‘Celebrity Wife Swap’, ‘ Come dine with me’ and the various food shows headed by prize plonker Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Oh not to mention the free advertising segments for Sainsbury Oliver. Sorry, maybe it’s Jamie Sainsbury I get confused. A lot of this as Sir Jeremy Isaacs, Channel 4’s chief executive from 1980 to 1987, said at the weekend is “dross”.

Okay, granted I know that many people like these shows and for their type they are well made and, apparently, entertaining, but none of them can even remotely be described as public service. And yet this is the Channel 4 line-up every night of the week (other than the mostly laudable Channel 4 News).

But as Sir Jeremy pointed out, it is because of said dross that the station has left itself open to claims it should be merged with Five. This is not music to C4’s chairman Luke Johnson and chief executive Andy Duncan who don’t like the idea one bit. They should be so lucky. The duo seems to be under the impression that the station has a god given right to exist and that it should be bailed out by the government. I’m not sure that assumption any longer has any validity if it ever did.

Channel 4 does exist, but there is no reason it MUST exist in the future. The station is a state-owned anomaly. The government has no place in owning the station anymore and has not done so for a long time. Blame it on the last Conservative government (that’s my top tip). It sold off everything else (trains, gas, water, electricity – useful stuff), but somehow it hung onto Channel 4 (stuff we don’t need). Was John Major a ‘Brookside’ fan? Who knows.

Okay, so maybe New Labour should have taken its chance five years ago when the station was still worth something rather than the millstone it is now. Sadly it did not.

So where does that leave us? Ideally, Johnson and Duncan want more government money or a bit of the BBC. They should get neither – the BBC has built BBC Worldwide into a thriving business. Channel 4 has dug itself into a financial hole that no amount of celebrity pap will get it out of.

It seems to many that the best (if not the only) way out is a merger with Five. A merger with Five makes perfect sense. They are in the same market (unless I’m mistaken reality shows and American imports are their bread and butter?). Channel 4 might consider Five to be the less attractive sister in this duo, but I’m sure they will come to appreciate each other.

Sir Jeremy is right when he says that “shocking has become a remit in itself” for Channel 4.

Seriously, what else was the justification for the broadcaster inviting Israel hating Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to give its alternative Christmas message?

Sure there might be some good stuff in there somewhere, but it is lost amongst the dross. I mean come on aren’t we bored already of year after year of ‘Celebrity Big Brother’?

None of this contributes to public-service broadcasting, which is apparently the reason we are trying to ensure its future.

I’m hoping that when Lord Carter, the communications minister, publishes his report on January 26 including proposals on its future he is brave and bold and takes this opportunity to get shot of Channel 4. Maybe the government will hang onto a stake and when the markets pick up it will be able to realise a better return for the tax payer, but it should definitely go.

Unlike Johnson I don’t think many will see a merger with Five as being “a tragedy for Channel 4”. It is more like a match made in heaven.

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Cute Overload and other web time wasting

The New York Times today has a piece on a web institution: (a slice of heaven on your desktop). It gets as many visitors a day as political gossip blog Wonkett not to mention many other sites.

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Jade Goody has PR cancer

I have to admit when I first saw the front page of the Sun today with the “Jade Has Cancer” headline, I immediately thought “that’s bound to be PR cancer, not real cancer”. This thought suggests one of two really quite disturbing things.

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Vote, vote vote for Kelvin MacKenzie

Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie is “90 per cent certain” to put his name
forward” and run against Conservative MP and egomaniac David Davis. I really hope he does.

MacKenzie said yesterday that: “I have been associated with The Sun for
30 years. The Sun is very, very hostile to David Davis because of his 28-day
stance and The Sun has always been very up for 42 days and perhaps even 420

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Channel 4 must act and remove bully

almost 400 complaints about bullying housemate Alexandra, Channel 4 is showing
itself full of weakness and indecision by its failure to remove her from the
house. We know why it is dithering. Last night’s show pulled in a combined 3m-plus viewers, but by leaving her in it condones her actions and sets an
unpleasant example.

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In the 80s

It must be 80s week TV week (kind of), but for different and diverse reasons. First there was the return of the truly awful 'Gladiators' snapped up by Sky One (for the love of god why?) and the sad demise of everyone's (ahem) favourite TV prankster Jeremy Beadle. There must be more on the way.

Well everyone seems to love him now though let's not forget he was once the most hated man in Britain. I'm sure some of today's articles will mention YouTube and how he was the forerunner of all that kind of stuff. Fair play, I mean he did more for charity than most, which has to be worth a little pain. Oh wait…

I knew as soon as I stepped out of bed today what the Sun's front page headline would be and sure enough there it is: 'Beadle's Not about'. Possibly in poor taste. Who knows maybe the prankster ('Beadle's About') and purveyor of quality clips of children and animals falling over (You've Been Framed') would have appreciated it.

Beadle's show were well-watched, but it was cheap Saturday night television that ITV turned out year in and year out and later succeeded by the likes of Ant and Dec who are probably the spiritual keepers of the Beadle flame with their 'Saturday Night Takeaway'.

His departure comes as Sky One resurrects 80s/90s game show 'Gladiators'. A brash splash of primary colours as people hit each other with padded sticks.

Sky doesn't make many programmes which is why it sent a press release about this to me six times yesterday.

In the US the writers strike has led broadcasters to put more reality shows onto the schedules – Sky doesn't have that excuse.

All we need now is the return of 'Blind Date', that other staple of the 80s. I'm not sure if this collection of shows all ran at the same time, but they are indelibly linked in some cheesy TV yesteryear which if you tried to explain to someone from another planet they probably wouldn’t believe you (yes we have human Zoos as well and we feed the inmates/inhabitants alcohol and laugh or not).

I'm betting (“hello is that Mr Paddy Power?”) that 'Blind Date will be back any moment. Yesterday, ITV signed himbo-in-chief Vernon Kaye in an “exclusive two year deal”. The good news is that Kaye (former host of another 80s revival 'Family Fortunes') won't appear on other channels. The bad news is that he will be hosting new shows that will probably involve the word “talent”, but I'm sure will include 'Blind Date”.

And if not that then a show called 'Blind Talent' or is that already airing? I'm confused. Maybe I'm being harsh – his first show will in fact be called 'Beat The Star', which I'm sure will be pure quality.

There must be other shows that can be shamelessly dug up from those dungeons deep in TV's vaults? Any suggestions?

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Big Brother returns

Tonight, more Big Brother shenanigans begin with a re-tweaked format that sees what are being described as “pure prodigies” take to the stage with various stars lending their hand. OK, if you insist, but really Channel 4, rather than acting like an addict who can't give up, you should have given us all a rest.

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Big Brother day 91

Is it really that long since a fresh-faced bunch of would-be z-listers entered the house? Three months?

It hardly seems like the same show that PHD co-founder Jonathan Durden was in. He left the show two months ago.

Somebody called Emily Parr left three months ago following a racially offensive comment she made towards housemate Charley, who has also gone. I'm not sure when she went, but I haven't seen more than an hour of this latest season since it began.

Emails keep arriving from Channel 4 with a seeming endless array of tasks. Even the people writing these sound bored

“Housemates direct and star in Big Brother 8 the Movie”
“Jonty regrets not sticking up for his former halfway housemates…again”
“Carole confesses all to Big Brother”

Day 91
12:38pm – For today's task housemates have been given three hours to make a movie of their experience of the Big Brother house, Big Brother 8 the Movie. The first scene is Amanda and Sam's entrance into the Big Brother house. Liam and Ziggy have been chosen to play the twins. At the end of the scene Amanda says: “That was dead good guys, that was like me and Sam.”

Someone probably thought it was amusing to get the housemates to re-enact their time in the house as if once was not enough, but what else are you going to do on Day 91, which sounds like some post-apocalyptic milestone from Cormac McCarthy's brilliant novel 'The Road'.

Millions of viewers have deserted the show since it began at the end of May when 6.2m tuned in. Figures went as low as 2.1m, but have rallied to an average of 3.6m, which is still a lot and probably why, despite the boredom, Channel 4 is rolling on with the show.

The good news is that this Friday we will reach Day 93. The End. The Finish. Oh the twins might win. Sam and Amanda. Good? Bad? Who's to know.

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