I should begin by saying that I like Big Brother. I watch Big Brother every year. But with the launch of Big Brother 13, the show appears to have strayed yet further from its innovative roots – that of a genuinely interesting and engaging social experiment.
We’ll begin with the positives: The most noticeable thing about the first night of this year’s Big Brother was the striking improvement in the performance of host Brian Dowling. This time last year, in his first ever show, he stared into the camera like a terrified rabbit caught in the headlights of a fast-approaching articulated lorry. Opening the show this year he looked assured, relaxed and every bit the seasoned television presenter, despite having to deliver almost every link in a driving rainstorm. What a pro.
To be honest, the rest of the programme was downhill all the way. Contestant-wise, it was underwhelming to say the lease. Jamie East’s idea of “a wide range of different ages” may be age 22 to age 27, but the dismal truth is that 90% of the housemates this year seem to be dreary 20-somethings with fake-tanned skinny legs or six packs. Or both. Gone are the days of interesting grown-ups with actual life experience and a quirky tale to tell. No more Nasty Nicks. No more Jade Goodys. Instead, we must watch a bunch of pimply kids just out of school thrust in front of the cameras and expected to be interesting and characterful.
These people are basically children playing at being adults. They’ve grown up with the show and have each chosen a previous more interesting housemate to copy or model themselves on. So we have half-formed young adults delivering flimsy carbon copies of previously more interesting housemates. The outrageous camp housemate, the mysterious transsexual housemate, the slightly threatening gangster housemate. Add in a sprinkling of “Gap Yarrr” posh ones, fading porn stars, brainless Essex girls and flicky-haired pretty boys and Big Brother 13 is an almost perfect facsimile of Big Brother 12. Or Big Brother 11.
All we need now is a couple of people who remind us of celebrities in order to boost the ratings via the medium of “fame by association”. So, enter a bouncer who sounds a bit like Joe Pasquale and a girl who looks so much like Kylie Minogue that she probably is Kylie Minogue.
There’s one housemate who’s over 40. Victoria the Cougar. She got nominated for eviction on the first night. It’s going to be a long summer.