The real wannabes

Forget the saddos who applied to be on Big Brother - the show's producers are just as desperate for 15 minutes of fame.

Ray Crowley

Topics Politics

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Big Brother is back – and some are already fretting about the state of TV. How can we call this rubbish entertainment? Why can’t we have proper programmes?

In spite of myself, I have watched a few episodes – and already I hate Weetabix-eating muscleman Lee. Spencer, who doesn’t play the silly games and sleeps all day, is the most likeable. I can see myself crying in five weeks time: ‘I can’t believe I’m addicted to this crap…!’

But there is something far more nasty than voyeurism and dumbed-down TV lurking behind the two-way glass in the Big Brother house.

How Not to Get On Big Brother was screened on Channel 4 last week, as a prelude to the news series. We were shown the application videos sent in by people who never had a hope in hell of getting on the show. We also saw the audition process, where those who made it to ‘regional heats’ were asked to jump over a stick and then introduce themselves to everyone else, before being subjected to team-building games and one-to-one interviews.

All this was accompanied by a running commentary from the show’s producers, who explained ‘how not to get on’. ‘Wannabes’ – anybody who got naked or sang a song or mentioned the money or potential fame in their application videos – were immediately off the list. ‘Too desperate’, ‘too boring’, ‘too much like Geri Halliwell’.

The producers were incredulous that anyone should dare be motivated by potential press attention or cash. But the show offers a £70,000 prize and guarantees your picture in the Sun newspaper. The question ‘Why do you want to be on Big Brother?’ apparently had to be answered by someone deluded enough to take the show as seriously as the producers did. Surely an impossible task.

Far from being ambitious TV types who realise they’re on to a money and ratings winner with Big Brother, the producers seem to take the whole show to heart. ‘We’ve started evicting people already’, they commented, smug from their positions inside ‘the Big Brother family’.

Unlike the Pop Idol judges, who have done a Pizza Hut advert, or Popstars judge Nasty Nigel, who now has his own game show, the Big Brother producers are not destined for minor celebrity – except perhaps by broadcasting their behind-the-scenes pontificating on How Not to Get On Big Brother. They may have referred to the applicants as ‘wannabes’ – but the real wannabes today are the TV producers themselves, who now try to make themselves the stars of their own series.

The producers might not be as annoying as Big Brother presenter Davina Mccall. But by documenting their quest for 12 ‘interesting’ people, the producers showed themselves up as utterly boring – a bunch of unknown Channel 4 buffoons who had hijacked their own show. It wasn’t enough to offer 15 minutes of fame to a lucky few – they wanted their own 15 minutes too.

During previous series of Big Brother, many commentators voiced concerns about the viewing public’s voyeuristic tendencies. But the curious public don’t hold a candle to self-important TV employees, who will stop at nothing to get themselves on TV.

Read on:

Watching them watching themselves, by Ray Crowley

It’s only a game show, by Ray Crowley

Reality TV: get real, by Claire Fox

Big Brother – big differences?, by Cheryl Hudson

spiked-issue: TV

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Topics Politics


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