Big Brother’s big curtain call
HAILED by some as a ground-breaking social experiment, condemned by others as exploitative trash, in the last 10 years Big Brother has changed the landscape of reality television. Since its launch in July 2000, the show has turned characters such as Jade Goody and ‘Nasty’ Nick Bateman into unlikely TV stars, and is now bowing out after 10 seasons.
The doors to TV’s most famous house will open for the last time this summer for the 11th and final series, and we can expect the usual petty spats, strategically forged alliances, undercover romances and cruel tasks which have become synonymous with the show.
“It’s going to be massive. Massive, naughty, bad, great, good, evil, happy, fun, outrageous,” says Davina McCall, who has been the programme’s host since the start.
Details surrounding the eagerly awaited show are a closely guarded secret, with even the presenters being kept in the dark. What we do know is that there will be some surprises, including twists and turns, as cameras follow the last group of strangers to live in the Big Brother house.
The first twist will see some hopeful housemates being turned away from the house, before they even get the chance to enter. This year, the final group will be announced on the launch night, Wednesday June 9, and it’s only then that each contestant will discover whether they’ll be spending their summer with strangers or heading back home with their bags still packed.
George Lamb, who will front the spinoff show Big Brother’s Little Brother with Emma Willis, says this series will hark back to the debut series, which broke new ground when it first aired on UK screens.
“It’s going to be completely different - the bosses are going to play with your senses, play with your mind and mess with convention a little bit more,” he reveals.
The 30-year-old adds: “It’s much easier to follow the same parameters and tweak it, than to rip up the rule book and say, ‘This begins again’. Hopefully it’ll be the biggest and best year of Big Brother since year one.”
The reality show started in the Netherlands back in 1999 and has since become one of the most successful TV franchises around the world. It is shown in more than 110 countries, with more than 155 series produced in total.
Big Brother has become one of the most talked about shows on telly, thanks to its eclectic mix of housemates, including Pete Bennett from BB7 who had Tourette’s Syndrome, ditsy hairdresser Helen Adams and transsexual Nadia Almada.
“Big Brother reserves the right to change the rules at any time, so Big Brother is forever morphing, even during a series,” says McCall.
“I’ve never got bored - even in series four, when everyone was like, ‘This is so dull, everybody’s so nice!’. For me, even in that series, I was addicted.”
The show has had its critics. While it scored record highs with viewing figures of 9.2 million in its third year, which was won by Kate Lawler and Jade Goody became a household name, it has lost audiences in recent years, pulling in only an average of 2.2 million viewers in 2009.
McCall suspects she might lose her composure once the series kicks off.
“My feeling is that I might cry during the day while it’s happening. I think I’ll probably do most of my sobbing in the day or afterwards,” she says.
“I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing and looking back - I’m full of nostalgia this year, looking back at everything that’s happened in all the past series.”
Having helmed Big Brother since it burst onto our screens in 2000, the 42-year-old reckons she knows the secret to winning.
“You have to be interesting, it’s not good enough just to be kooky or weird. I always think they’re looking for multi-layered personalities,” she says.
“When you get in there, I would say hang back for the first couple of weeks. The people who are really loud at the beginning are the first out. I hate people who run around talking to the cameras all the time. It’s not clever, it’s not funny, don’t do it.”
She continues: “The other really important thing is, use the diary room a lot. We want to know how you’re feeling, and the public need to feel connected to you if you’re going to win it.”
Lamb hopes people will give Big Brother the swan song it deserves. “To watch it unfold, with different characters like Nasty Nick who played it like a game, and trying to understand what they were going through, it was conceptually a remarkable thing to pull off. Hopefully people will have one more summer of love with Big