Forgive me if I don’t shed a tear over the cancellation of Big Brother. For years, the publicists of the show have proclaimed that it’s a cultural treasure, a sign of our generation. Tabloid newspapers have dedicated entire pull-out supplements to Big Bro, and Heat magazine has drooled at a new influx of nonentities for them to take pictures of.
But, now that Channel 4 has declared the age of Big Brother to be over, The Mirror will have to put their Pollyometer in mothballs, and The Sun are surely already making an appointment for their BB Bitch, Emma Cox, to be declawed.
Even sensible intellectual snobs stopped complaining about Big Brother and the cultural brain drain a few years ago. I suspect it was a combination of getting tired of the sound of our own voices and the certainty that the rest of the country would catch up eventually.
For me, Big Brother never got better than the Chicken Stu year – you had the sex under the table scenario, Fight Night and Victor’s brilliant addresses to the nation from the Diary Room. There was dippy-but-gorgeous Shell and her nude lawn-mowing activities and her equally yummy mate Vanessa. And how could we forget ‘Portugeezer’ Nadia, who won the show, proving that not all British people are homophobic white supremacists. Yay!
BB5 was the crowning glory of the Big Brother format. They’d never reclaim their former glory, especially as the housemates became less interesting and Big Bro’s box of tricks became increasingly predictable. Davina’s pouting and preening on eviction nights became irritating, and to this day, I miss the presence of Russell Brand on Big Brother’s Big Mouth. His quirky deconstruction of the housemates made it almost worth watching the main show just to laugh along.
And as the husband of someone who writes about Big Brother for a living, I’ll be glad to finally be able to watch different channels at night. I know she’s secretly relieved – she’s more a fan of talent-based reality TV like X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. Watching people sit in a house with the expectation that they’ll emerge as stars is ridiculous. Especially when they demonstrate zero qualifications for being famous.
I suppose that’s the thing with BB: they proved that everyone could have their 15 minutes of fame. That by simply being on TV, someone could become a celebrity.
While that might be enough for Heat (echoes of Eminem singing ‘We’re the ones who made you…‘), I’m starting to hanker for celebrities worth celebrating. People with talent, intelligence, ideas. People who can contribute to culture – not in a preachy Bono way – but with wit and humour and something relevant to say. Surely the Jade Goody pantomime at the start of this year, and every picture of Chantelle Houghton in a bikini should make us all crave a little more substance in our celebs?
At the end of the day, I hope the end of Big Brother coincides with a new era in entertainment and celebrity news. Certainly, Priya’s article about Channel 4’s plans for future programming sound like a massive step in the right direction.