Big Brother souled out
Blair McDonough grew frustrated with the show that launched him, writes Siobhan Duck
BPostcards, G Channel 9, Sunday, 5.30pm Victorian travel ideas Duration: 30 minutes LAIR McDonough wasn’t remotely surprised by the axing of Big Brother. He says BB, the series that launched his TV career, had ‘‘lost its soul’’ over its eight-year run, becoming too caught up in convoluted gimmicks rather than the personalities of its housemates.
‘‘I got frustrated with it,’’ he says. ‘‘A lot of people did. They told us what the people were like rather than just letting people be themselves and letting us (the audience) make up our own minds.’’
Though he was only runner-up in 2001, McDonough is arguably BB’s biggest winner. First-season winner Ben Williams, along with the show’s stand-out star, bum-dancing SaraMarie Fedele, have all but faded into obscurity, but McDonough scored a starring role on Neighbours and managed to turn his 15 minutes of housemate fame into a successful career.
Since leaving Neighbours in 2005, after playing Stuart Parker for four years, McDonough has spent time in Britain where he worked on the hit series Heartbeat and recently filmed a guest role on Channel 7’s City Homicide.
He has also nabbed a presenting gig on Channel 9’s Postcards.
However, TV fame wasn’t always the plan. McDonough says in 2001 he and the other first-series housemates had no idea what BB had in store for them, let alone grand plans for fame and fortune afterwards.
‘‘You’ve got to remember in that first series none of the contestants had an agenda,’’ he says. ‘‘We didn’t know what to expect. ‘‘I just wanted to get out of going to uni. My dad said I couldn’t quit unless I had a good excuse.
‘‘So I told him I was going on a TV show. He still didn’t think that was a good enough excuse, but he backed me anyway.’’
Since that first series, many of the show’s housemates have been motivated to take part in BB as a means of launching their careers in radio, TV or men’s magazines.
‘‘They ( BB producers) made the business decision to choose those sorts of people to go in there,’’ he says of the collection of famehungry housemates who have populated the series in more recent times.
‘‘If they had really wanted BB to succeed they should have stood firm on what people had liked about it, which was to join people as they go on a journey. Friday Night Live turned it into a game show.
‘‘And sending in transvestites and stuff just sensationalised it.’’
McDonough says the turning point for his career post- BB was scoring a role in Neighbours.
‘‘I would not call it success, it’s just that my 15 minutes has lasted more like an hour of fame,’’ he says with a laugh.
McDonough is relishing his new role on Postcards, saying his friends reckon he’s a ‘‘lucky bastard’’ for getting to travel across Victoria for work.
BUT he also concedes he will, to some extent, always be known as ‘‘the guy from BB’’.
‘‘I am very thankful for getting these opportunities,’’ he says.
‘‘I am sure that I have not gotten jobs because I am still seen by some people as the guy from BB.
‘‘It really depends on the age of the person. There are some who are too young to remember me on BB and to them I am Stu Parker from Neighbours.
‘‘I’m sure I’ll be the guy from Postcards to some of the older people now too.’’
original Big Brother
runner-up Blair McDonough says the show lost its way with gimmicks.