Jamie on Big Brother

Jamie on Big Brother

By Jamie Ross 17/06/10

As the final series starts, Jamie Ross takes a trip down memory lane...

When you reach your twenties, every now and then something in your life happens which reminds you that your youth is dead and it will never come back.

The tamest drinking session leaves you with a hangover so severe that it feels like your head could explode with sufficient force to destroy this universe and create the next. Enormous meals no longer magically vanish into metabolic oblivion and instead latch onto your stomach, chest and arse, leaving you looking like a blancmange scarecrow after a long summer’s work.

But, most starkly, some of the things which you enjoyed most as a carefree teen just don’t please you anymore. I had one of these moments this week when I watched Big Brother for the first time in a few years and, well, it’s just a bit shit, isn’t it?

This might not be the kind of mind-blowing observation many of you will have come to expect from this column; Big Brother has been criticised by many ever since its inception. But during my teenage years, Big Brother was the essential element of my summer. Admittedly, this could be because I was a small nervous boy who lived in a tiny Scottish village where the most attractive female of my age was a horse, but I genuinely remember it being incredibly engrossing viewing.

After the thick arse-fog of reality television we’ve had to endure for the past ten years, it’s easy to forget how fresh Big Brother was during its first series. But in 2000, regular people starring in a television show which directly involved the voting public was a new idea.

It provoked some form of reaction from all who saw it - ranging from “why did no one think of this before?” to “I no longer wish to live in the modern world” – but absolutely everyone held a strong opinion on it and it practically spawned the horrible term “watercooler moment”. Vast media coverage was given to the faintest ghost of a romance, contestants became genuine celebrities upon their exit from the house and Davina McCall was national treasure rather than the blustering Hellmouth we all know today. It was a sensation.

But, since then, ratings have dwindled and from what I saw this week, it is no wonder that this will be the last series. It is a shell of its former self and, oddly, its downfall seems to be down to the two reasons it was initially a success.

Phone voting is no longer a novelty after we’ve spent the last decade being asked to vote on everything from the colour of David Dimbleby’s tie to the pitch of Adrian Chiles’s farts. What was initially a thrilling 'God' role has become a bland expectation.

But, even then, many phone-vote programmes are still successful. Big Brother is failing because people simply don’t care enough about the people in it to vote. Year upon year of wackier and wackier contestants have left the Big Brother house full of the kind of self-conscious-kook who claims that you’ll either “love them or hate them”, a sure sign that you’re encountering the most exclusively loathsome person imaginable.

People talked about and voted for previous contestants because they seemed believable and interesting, but the goings-on in this house of love-starved dullards seem about as consequential as a turd’s choice of aftershave.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but Big Brother has come to an end which seems timely. I’ll look back on its ten years fondly and, fittingly, in the same way as my teenage years. With nostalgia, embarrassment and with no noteworthy acts of sex.

More Jamie:

...on the World Cup

...on Eurovision

See Jamie's IdeasTap profile

Image courtesy of adebⓞnd on Flickr.

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