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Can Big Brother be saved?

Short answer, no I don’t think so.

Long answer, well I’m glad you asked! Big Brother has been a staple on British television for 18 years, however since being axed by Channel 4 in 2010 due to “creative renewal” by the channel, Big Brother has lost its edge, its purpose and subsequently, viewers.

Channel 4 axing Big Brother in 2010 has to be up there with one of the worst broadcasting decisions the Channel has ever made. Their ratings dipped year on year after losing Big Brother, along with the highly coveted audience share with 16-24 year olds.

Channel 5 on the other hand essentially had their channel saved. Despite hemorrhaging viewers quickly in their very first series due to a variety of production decisions, Big Brother continued to outperform almost every single show on the channel, bringing in younger viewers in a way that Channel 5 had never before seen.

Since losing a load of viewers in 2011, viewership remained somewhat stable on Channel 5 until around 2015. Since then, ratings year on year have dropped at an alarming rate, to the point where Channel 5 are said to be considering axing the show completely unless show creators Endemol significantly reduce the price tag of the show.

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Ben Frow, the man who says he wants Big Brother off his own Channel.

Channel 5’s head of programming Ben Frow has openly and repeatedly remarked that he would rather not have Big Brother on the channel, and would rather have original programming, whilst purchasing the rights to old shows like Blind Date and others. Could his comments purely have been a negotiation tactic? Because his words and his actions definitely do not add up.

Despite falling ratings, Big Brother continues to be Channel 5’s biggest show, it holds fairly steady viewers for an incredible number of episodes per year and replacing Big Brother would end up being a risky move, with approximately 200 hours of prime time television a year needing to be replaced. Ratings for which could be worse than Big Brother, would likely not bring in the “youth” market and could be the downfall of Channel 5.

Many see this years Big Brother as a “make or break” to whether Channel 5 will renew the show or axe it. I would love to be optimistic but for me personally, the “make or break” time was a couple of years ago when the show still had a steady viewership of loyal viewers, many of whom were watching since the Channel 4 era longing for the show to return to its former glory.

I have written extensive posts in to HOW Big Brother can be saved, so I’m not going to go in to that here, in fact here are two posts for your enjoyment:

Post 1 – How to Save Big Brother UK Before it’s too late

Post 2 – Why Celebrity Big Brother’s Changes in 2018 weren’t enough

This year there is a lot of buzz amongst fans and people in the know that the producers of Big Brother are said to be going “back to basics” and people are getting excited thinking that means that we are going to get a “proper” Big Brother similar to the Channel 4 era.

I am very apprehensive about this however. Whilst I agree it would be absolutely incredible to get a proper series of the show for the first time since Channel 4 axed the show, I just can’t see the producers of Big Brother “getting” it, even if they try.

Throughout the run on Channel 5 it has become apparent to me that the production, or possibly the people at Channel 5, simply haven’t got a clue what makes Big Brother the success it once was. Too many times they’ve tried to copy lesser structured reality shows and become similar to what is “current” which sounds great on paper, but this had less to falling viewers not just for Big Brother, but for other shows that have tried to appeal to a younger, or should I say, DUMBER, audience, like The X Factor. Whereas shows that remain true to what made them a success such as Strictly or Bake Off continue to bring in very strong viewers.

Too many times on Channel 5 I’ve felt insulted as a viewer, it’s clear on so many occasions that they’re appealing to the lowest common denominator that it’s been infuriating.

Big Brother has never been high brow, nor should it be in terms of content, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the editing style, treating the viewers as passive idiots who can’t think for themselves, covering up of events inside the house with no justified reasoning, and twists that are quite clearly either thought of last-minute as “oh we need to do something during the eviction tonight” or manipulated situations designed to keep certain housemates in and get others out, leading to an unfair game.

Because that is a big part of what Big Brother is, a game. A game needs fair, clear rules and the producers should not be able to affect it. Sure, chuck a twist in, but announce it before anything happens first.

For example, if it’s a nominations twist it NEEDS to be announced BEFORE nominations take place and producers know who is facing it. Producers NEED to clarify what the rules for nominations are in terms of how many housemates are placed up for eviction BEFORE nominations take place. Otherwise viewers see through it, get turned off and switch off. Plus even if Big Brother ISN’T manipulating things in producers eyes, they need to wake up and realise that behaving the way they are, in terms of releasing little to no information, is making viewers BELIEVE that producers are controlling who stays and who goes, which is leading to people switching off.

I’ve been saying this since the day Big Brother went to Channel 5 – Yes, there are a lot of morons out there who only care about arguments and romance in the house, but for every 1 of those, there are 5, 10, 30 others in this country that do have a brain, and want to be entertained without feeling insulted.

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X Factor arguably started becoming a joke when Lucie Jones was axed in favour of Jedward in a deadlock situation

It’s exactly why X Factor ratings began to dip, viewers say the producer manipulation each week and the way the show became a parody of itself and switched off. Manipulating a show to get the scenes you want will only ever result in people switching off, even if it gets a boost in the short-term when people switch on for the controversy.

I have no idea if Big Brother will go “back to basics” – I don’t even know what that entails – because the show has evolved and there was a reason the show underwent a big change between series 4 and 5 – too basic and the show is in danger of being dull – not enough and it has all the problems Channel 5 have given it. They need to strike a good balance, and after years of disappointment I do not have faith in the current production team to deliver the right product.

There is a chance that Big Brother CAN hit the mark this year though. Signals so far are looking good. A proper audition process has taken place, rumours abound that they are looking for people who haven’t been on TV before and could even be looking to return to a true social experiment. They’ve brought back a producer from the original era of the show to try to turn it around and that’s another massive tick in the box.

They even seem to have made the genius decision to move the start date of the show out of its usual late May/early June slot to not clash with Love Island or the World Cup, which historically damages the ratings every 4 years.

Here is the most important part though. Even if Channel 5 somehow manage to deliver the Big Brother that makes the show unique (yes, live feed is a REQUIREMENT of that, see my other articles for why) I just no longer believe the Channel has the pulling power to bring back 8 years of alienated viewers anymore.

The time for change was years ago, when fans were screaming out for it. Not now that the show has lost a substantial percentage of its viewership and the wider public knows that this may be its final series.

Channel 5 – Do the right thing – If you’re going to axe it, axe it, and send Big Brother off with the bang it deserves. But you won’t do that, you’ll eek it out until its dying breath as you have done, and let it die without any goodbye to its legions of fans built up over 18 years. Give Endemol the chance to ship it to other Channels.

And THAT Channel 5, is why you are, and will always be, viewed as the worst, most tacky channel on British TV.

Yeah, worse than Babestation.

R.I.P? That’s something I discussed in my last article, take a look!

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Why Dexter Should Win Big Brother

Here we are, we are at the final of Big Brother 2013 and once again I come to you to present why this years most complex character should walk out victorious.

Five housemates remain in the running to be crowned your winner – Charlie, Dexter, Gina, Jack & Joe and Sam – Who wins? You decide!

Sam

SamI’ll start off with Sam, the favourite to win. Sam is an interesting one. Up until the “Prize Fund – Twist Within a Twist” twist I had the opinion that I would feel alright if he won. I felt that way because although he hasn’t been given much of the edit from Channel 5, he clearly is trying to have a good time without the need for attention seeking drama like the other housemates, along with him seeming like a genuinely good guy. However, on the night of that twist he laid in to Dexter in a way that really put me off him straight away. It was very telling that he has been shown to not get involved with arguments for 9 weeks but now it is near the end he decided to jump on the bandwagon and attack the housemate that they all think will be popular with the audience to attack.

At this point Sam took the only redeeming feature he had about him that would have let me be happy with him winning. Before that it was OK that he didn’t get involved in arguments. For me, a Big Brother winner doesn’t need to be the one of “tells it like it is” or gets involved in loads of arguments. A winner needs to be likeable, relatable and have a good soul in my opinion. Sam did fit the bill, but he doesn’t any longer. That being said, a good Big Brother winner does need to be someone who has made the show enjoyable too, Sam has not done that, but I’m not sure whether that is completely due to Sam or the edit of Channel 5 which only seems to focus on tasks, romances and any sort of drama they can manipulate in the house.

What the bookies say: WINNER
My Prediction: Runner-Up
Where I want him to finish: 3rd place

Charlie

CharlieNext up it’s Charlie. Charlie is another housemate who had a big turning point with me where I feel her real side has been revealed. During the first part of the show I liked Charlie, I thought she was a sweet girl who didn’t have much confidence and wasn’t sure what to do with being forced in to the centre of a randomly concocted “love triangle”.

However, as the show progressed it became clear that Charlie was playing both Dexter and Callum and stringing them along (especially Callum). My biggest gripe with Charlie is that she has screwed over the three housemates who have clearly cared about her the deepest in the show. She screwed over her own mother in the house by being a bit of a stroppy daughter, she has screwed over Callum by nominating even though she would have quite deep conversations with him and give Callum the idea that she liked him and she screws over Dexter almost nightly at the moment with the constant (and very BORING) repetitive cycle of “I really like you Dexter!” to “I don’t know how I feel about you Dexter” to “I think you’re using me Dexter” to “I think you’re an evil person Dexter” to “I really like you Dexter!” – repeat, nightly.

On top of how she treats those closest to her, Charlie herself is a very wet individual with no real opinion and does try to sit on the fence with a lot of things that happen in the house. I am not going to sit here shouting “game player” because I don’t think there is anything wrong with playing a game in a game show. However, her game is extremely apparent, dull and is not one I am a fan of for a winner. If it wasn’t for Dexter and Callum she would be this years Rachel Rice.

What the bookies say: 5th place
My prediction: 5th place
Where I want her to finish: 4th place

Jack & Joe

JackJoeThe twins have been at the forefront of this years “fun”. To be fair to them they have all the hallmarks of a usual Big Brother winner, however viewers seem to have taken a disliking to them due to what they perceive to be “forced behaviour”. I honestly don’t know what to think. I hate them in the diary room, they do come across as extremely forced. However, 90% of their time in the house I do feel is just naturally them. Personally, I really like Joe and I think he could have won the show if he was in there by himself. Jack lets the two down, just the other day he was telling Joe to shut up when Joe was just stating how he felt about leaving the house soon because he was worried what the audience might think.

It’s been nice to have some “normal” housemates in the shape of these two. They aren’t media savvy, they’re surprisingly young and have normal jobs. They are not models or PR people or whatever like Channel 5 seem to orgasm over when picking housemates. They’re just two lads who are both obviously big fans of Big Brother, and I do admire that about them and wish that Channel 5 would put more housemates like that in the house. That being said, I really dislike “pairings” going in to the Big Brother house, it gives them an unfair advantage and skews the overall game, so I’m glad that once again this year a “pairing” is not going to win.

I am surprised they aren’t higher favourites to win than they currently are. They are funny, they have been involved with a lot of things in this years Big Brother and I don’t think this series would have been the same without them. Will they win? Probably not. But I really do think that they will finish much higher than the 4th place that they are currently being given by the bookies.

What the bookies say: 4th placeMy prediction: 3rd place (I really think they are the wildcard of the final and could finish anywhere between 1st-4th)
Where I want them to finish: Runners-Up

Gina

GinaAnyone who follows me on Twitter will know of my particular dislike for “Queen” Gina. I have disliked her from the moment she walked in the house and stuck up her nose at the fact she might have to sleep in a bed with another housemate. I can’t forget the “is this your bed? is this your bed? is this your bed?” moment that boiled my blood, and since then she has done nothing to redeem herself.

Yes, Gina has been at the front of the so-called entertainment this series, but is that for the right reasons? She has been at the fore-front of the show because of her being a bitch, a spoilt brat and being given a fair chunk best tasks by Big Brother themselves.

Gina may win because of her vendetta with Hazel. The public disliked Hazel a lot and when Dexter and Gina were voted in to the safe house and were allowed to see what we were seeing (plus a lot more…) Gina was given the ammunition to begin her take down of Hazel. There is a task where she is asked “Why are you targetting the strongest females in the house?” and (although I still hate Endemol for continuing to allow rubbish tasks like this that give them information about how they are perceived on the outside world) it is completely true. She first shot off Sallie, then Hazel then she has even tried Charlie. The way she speaks about people she doesn’t get on with leaves me cold as well. Gina is a horrible individual who doesn’t deserve public adulation just because she’s been picked from the editing to be on the show more than most housemates.

A popular argument for Gina is that she “tells it like it is, and I like people who say how they feel”. You know what, me too, but there comes a point where saying what you think or feel is just completely rude, idiotic and self obsessed. Whatever happened to manners? For someone who always goes on about “class” she doesn’t seem to have much. Lastly, wash your hair Gina.

What the bookies say: 3rd place
My prediction: WINNER or 4th place (I believe many Ginxster fans won’t get off the fence and make a decision so I think one will finish very highly and one will suffer)
Where I want her to finish: 5th place (or if I could invent a time machine and vote her out week one instead that would be cool)

Dexter

DexterAh Dexter Koh, this years winner in my eyes and the subject of unfair targeting from Bit on the Side and the main show just like a previous “controversial” winner Aaron. During Dexters 9 weeks in the house I have seen somebody who has played a game very well and there is nothing wrong with that, I have also seen somebody who has shown real strength of character and somebody who has managed to be entertaining throughout the shows run without being rude, argumentative or self obsessed.

I do believe we have seen genuine moments with Dexter although many will disagree. I think during his fake eviction he was genuinely overwhelmed to have been voted to be kept in by the public. He is always incredibly nervous and thankful on eviction nights and it is obvious that winning the show will mean a great deal to Dexter.

Some people like to criticise Dexter for not picking the highest amount in the Prize Fund twist. However, if I had the opportunity to win £88,800 I would not turn it down! It is possible to both want the money and want to win Big Brother for the experience and confirmation of being liked.

Yes, Dexter has quite obviously studied the show, he knows that vulnerable housemates who go on a “journey” go down well with the public. However as I’ve said previously there is nothing wrong with playing a game. He has played an extremely good one, so much so that I don’t know where Dexter ends and the game plan begins. However much of Dexter has been real, it has been entertaining and fun to watch him above all the other housemates. His game plan hasn’t seen him go under the radar like some other housemates. His game plan has seen him get involved constantly.

What the bookies say: Runner-Up
My prediction: WINNER or 4th place (I believe many Ginxster fans won’t get off the fence and make a decision so I think one will finish very highly and one will suffer)
Where I want him to finish: WINNER

Good luck Dex, you’ll need it…

‘Celebrity’ Big Brother – Launch Tonight!

So, after months of not being too fussed about Channel 5 acquiring Big Brother I am now officially looking forward to the launch tonight. The fact that the live feed will not be there still annoys me completely but now I am seeing things differently. This is not the show that Channel 4 had, in everything but branding and location this is going to be an entirely different show by the looks of things.

I’m sure I’ll be posting my views on the next three months quite regularly here so check back if you’re a Big Brother fan too!

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