#bb11 Big Brother: Don’t Stop Believing

Posted on August 8, 2010


Watching the final series of Big Brother – assuming Sky don’t pick up the option next year to satisfy the millions who would almost certainly miss it – is a bit like being at the bedside of a dying relative.

Editorially speaking, the series began with a breathtaking back-reference to the first series. There was a certain amount of transparency about the whole thing. There was no question about trying to convince audiences that the contestants didn’t know each other before they went in. In fact, given that they did there was already some chemistry. And because there was chemistry, we didn’t have those long, tiresome agonising episodes where we stared at the screen wondering why it was those contestants were surprised they didn’t get on and why it was the producers thought it was good idea to make it so boring to watch anyway.

Put another way, if they could make the first series compelling and the last series considerably more engaging than the rest, what the hell were they thinking in-between?

This final series has broken a few TV rules. Not only have contestants had a chance to do their own special turn in front of the on-set audience for eviction nights, but they’ve also cobbled together a rather smashing little smoking mirrors reference to Glee.

Yeah sure, it’s been around for quite a few weeks now but still it makes me smile every time I see it. As a piece of television, it’s clever. It’s reality TV referencing another piece of television which in turn features a group of high-school wannabees wanting the world, expressing that want through song and insodoing trying (and mostly succeeding) in making us love them as they do it. It’s a circular world. Ideas come easy. Don’t reinvent the wheel, etc. etc.

But the other possibly overlooked thing to do with this piece of television is the multiplatform angle. This video went out all over the internet hours before the Friday night show was broadcast. It is – editorially speaking – what could end up being the yearbook to this year’s Big Brother.It didn’t ruin the Friday night show by seeing it beforehand. If anything, it softened the blow by showing that it wasn’t actually going to be that bad a watch. How could it be? The song’s melancholic chord progressions meant it would always be a swansong for the series, prompting us the viewer to forgive it, its participants and quite possibly the format for all its foibles.

The chances are, it could only have worked if the series and the programme itself was breathing its last breath. It just wouldn’t have worked in any other of the ten previous series.

Still, there are lessons to learn. Breaking the hard and fast rules of a format (ie letting cameras into a space hitherto regarded as sacrosanct) won’t break things. It won’t ruin the core proposition. If anything it just makes you the producers a bit more like the audience.

Posted in: TV