Don’t worry, it’s not suddenly become culturally relevant again, if it ever was. And you’re right, it’s not something I normally watch.
Do you remember back in the heady days of 2000 when Big Brother started, when it was billed by Channel 4 as a grand social experiment? Turns out the social experiment was on the British public – how long would we put up with this intrusive, demeaning, ridiculous shit for? And we were all sucked in – I was foolish enough to expect a quality programme. What I actually saw was a bunch of slightly unhinged people stuck in a claustrophobic environment, becoming increasingly paranoid and unpleasant as the weeks dragged on. Every series ended up with arguing (usually full-on screaming and crying) about some perceived slight or whose turn it was to do the washing-up. Who needs telly? I could have looked in the mirror if I wanted to see that.
Since Pete Bennett (lovely, charming and wonderfully mental) won in 2006 the main show has passed me by. It’s not something I want to watch, especially since it’s clear the producers have been selecting the most outrageous, antagonistic and generally useless housemates. I don’t want those people in my house, even just for an hour or so on the telly, and it’s clear they don’t want to be there half the time. It’s like some sort of quarantine that needs to be suffered through to check you’ve not contracted the plague. It’s not entertaining or rewarding viewing in any way, apart from maybe to look down your nose at the contestants and think how much better you are than them, which is just as repellent as any behaviour seen in the BB house (apart from what Kinga Karolczak did with that wine bottle).
The celebrity version, which started on Channel 4 in 2001, has for many years been mistitled. It’s a game of ‘Spot the Celebrity’, amongst footballers wives, lesser known soap actors, and people you end up having to Google because you’ve never even heard their name before. I guess 2006 winner Chantelle Houghton was the real social experiment. Her only credentials for being selected for the show was that she wasn’t a celebrity. She had to play the part of silly blonde pop princess and be convincing for her celeb housemates and for the viewing public. She played the part perfectly and when on to win and then became a household name because of this. This is absolutely the purest form of famous for being famous. Utterly bizarre, but also pretty spectacular.
So it seems that now CBB has to step up and act like a big brother – the kind that steps in to fight the school-yard bullies and protect you, not the Orwellian nightmare that BB so readily became. This is because Angie Bowie, ex-wife of the late great David Bowie, is in the house. His death was announced this morning and so many heartfelt tributes have been paid. It’s clear he was a big deal to very many people and his loss will be felt tremendously. How much more so for his family? Sure, they weren’t on good terms, but she’s the mother of his first child and she kept his name after the divorce. Their relationship was clearly complicated but it’s not for us to analyse. And it’s certainly not for us to watch.
What Big Brother needs to do is call her into the diary room and turn off the camera because, despite what everyone with a smartphone seems to think these days, not everything has to be recorded for posterity. We don’t actually want to see every piece of dirty laundry aired in front of the camera. Some things can and should remain private. Big Brother housemate, celebrity, or whoever – everyone should be allowed some dignity.
UPDATE – Channel 5 have announced that Angie Bowie has been informed of David Bowie’s death off camera and she has chosen to remain in the house.