Big Brother souled out

Blair McDonough grew frus­trated with the show that launched him, writes Siob­han Duck

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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.’’

Con­trived:

orig­i­nal Big Brother

run­ner-up Blair McDonough says the show lost its way with gim­micks.

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