The death of Big Brother: a welcome assisted suicide

During my break in Spain last week (somewhat explaining my lack of posting of late), the biggest news headlines did still manage to reach my permanent relocation to the beach.

Big Brother 8's hopefuls © Channel 4 / Endemol /
Big Brother 8's hopefuls © Channel 4 / Endemol /

One of the best bits was the news of Big Brother’s long overdue demise, and my undisclosed glee seemed to be shared by a nation. I mean, seriously – the flogging of dead horses barely begins to cover it. Notwithstanding the fact I was addicted to season 2 when the novelty was still more or less intact, I feel that it might have been time to call it a day somewhere between a transexual’s gender-political victory and the Jade/Shilpa ‘racism’ row. There seemed no depth to which the producers would not stoop.

Having drafted a few words on the subject in celebration, I was pipped to the post by the Sunday Times’ Rod Liddle, whose own version of the news delivered such barbed wit and wry accuracy that I couldn’t possibly compete. I loved it – so here it is, in its entirety:

‘So, farewell Big Brother. Channel 4 has decided we have seen enough exhibitionist chavs with the collective IQs of a packet of Monster Munch in this particular setting. It will be approaching the production company Endemol, one assumes, to see what alternatives might be dreamt up. The creative director – an oxymoron if ever there was one – of Endemol is Peter Bazalgette, who also devised the reality show The Farm, during which pouting nonentity Rebecca Loos gave manual relief to a pig.

‘Sir Joseph Bazalgette won the gratitude and affection of all Londoners for devising a sewerage system that piped excrement away from every home in the capital. His great-great-grandson Peter has made a lot of money by sort of reversing this process, on a national scale.’

Marina Hyde’s piece in The Guardian was in much the same vein, and began with an equally pithy comment:

‘The demise of Big Brother resembled the funeral of a much-loathed relative, at which no one really knows what to say. At weddings, there’s always “you must be very proud”, but when you simply can’t trust yourself to deliver “he’ll be sorely missed” convincingly, the risk of blunder looms large. And so it was with Channel 4’s rich-but-racist uncle of a show, where the uncertain tribute that occurred with most embarrassing frequency in the obituaries was: “Is this the beginning of the end for reality TV?”‘

While I agree wholeheartedly with her sentiment, I think we have a way to go yet before we see a termination of reality TV as a whole genre. Sadly, not before time.


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