Many have tried and most have failed with high profile and successful British series cancelled after a few episodes following their conversion to US TV.
Next up is MTV with its version of The Inbetweeners. Read more »
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.
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.
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.
Last night's 'Big Brother' began with an apology, not for the tabloid heaven that was to follow, but for what we had already been subjected to.
If Gordon Brown was having second thoughts about how to deal with the budget deficit, he should not think twice about selling off the ratings-obsessed Channel 4.