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On Big Brother

13th September 2010

On Saturday morning I got up, watched the last ever Big Brother and cried. Quietly maybe so the neighbours didn’t hear, but there were definitely tears.

A friend rang.

“Hello,” I said. “I’m just watching the very last Big Brother and it’s making me do a cry.”

“Ha!” she said. “Sorry, I don’t mean to laugh. It’s not really my thing – but then half my friends like it and most of them are perfectly intelligent.”


I’m no Big Brother aficionado. A number of series have passed me by and most I’ve just dipped in and out of. But this one I watched keenly. It was a return to the original format of introducing a group of ordinary people into an extraordinary environment. This is a vast improvement on the middle years during which extraordinary individuals (trans: freaks) were introduced into an extraordinary environment, thus nullifying its simplicity and, dare I venture, beauty.

Big Brother was a programme with heart. Sure, it may have its knockers (ahem) but at its best it was a cauldron of human experience, self-development and interpersonal relationships. This year’s winner, Josie, was a lovely lady with humour who grew in confidence as the weeks rolled by and, one hopes, understands a little better why we all liked her so much.

Even if she did say this.

People grew up in there (Glynn, erm…), fell in love (numerous), fell out of love (numerous), even cracked up (most recently transsexual Nadia who apparently attempted suicide last week). Yet despite some of its more sinister schemes (putting divorcees Chantelle and Preston together was a bridge too far and Chantelle’s misery was at times hard to stomach) it was more a force for good than evil.

Tears on my Pilau

It was hard not to be moved by the final show: a teary Davina (often annoying but clearly much-loved), the story of Jade Goody (ditto), the family-like togetherness of the production team (this series was easily the most creative), what it has meant to the likes of Nikki Graham (unhappy waif who “owes everything to Big Brother”) and Brian Dowling (funny former cabin crew for whom proper stardom surely beckons). Big Brother was a chance for ordinary people to be elevated beyond their often humdrum circumstances and loved for who they were. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that.

Joan also laughed when I told her about the crying. “I live on my own you know?” she would say, jokily half-explaining why she also tuned in regularly. She may not live on her own now but Big Brother is always waiting to be a friend to anyone who wants one. What a pompous observation.

Anyroad I defied Joan not to cry when watching it. Once she had, she admitted finding it hard.


BB was the start of reality TV, television’s prime revolution of the last decade. Where our screens could have been filled with drama, comedy and imagination instead we’ve had people cooking upside down in the jungle with only months to live, or something. There’s so much crap it’s embarrassing.

But Big Brother wasn’t always crap. Often it was. But sometimes it was great, truly great.

With its last words (“Big Brother will get back to you”) I’d bet my bottom dollar – if not my bottom – that BB now moves to Channel Five. Which is a shame because the principal reason this one was so enjoyable was because it was the last.

There will always be advertising revenue there, especially when Channel Five – now run by Richard Desmond, founder of Red Hot TV – introduces bottom days, a free bar and free condoms, thereby turning it into a double parody of itself. It’s just a shame that these days everything has to be squeezed until the pips squeak.


Why are you still here? There’s nothing more to read. Haven’t you got homes to go to?