Tag Archives: Big Brother

Catch Up

Okay, another bit of a gap in blogging, and another catch up!

Pregnancy wise, Beth has been back and forth to the hospital several times over the past couple of weeks with stuff related to the gestational diabetes. The dietary stuff didn’t overly work – indeed her blood sugar seems to go all over the place whatever she has actually been eating, as a result the hospital have given her insulin which she uses to bring her blood sugar back to acceptable levels. However as a diabetic, albeit a temporary one, we have had to notify both the DVLA, and the insurance companies for the cars. For the moment it is just a note on the policies – whether there is any change in premium is dependant on whether Beth’s blood sugar settles down again after the birth.

One thing I didn’t comment on last week was the final of Last Choir Standing. Unlike some of the shows of this ilk that we’ve watched, we actually had some idea what was happening being members of the choir. Pretty well from the start of the final stages, I’d been pretty sure the final two choirs would be ACM Gospel Choir, based our of the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, and Only Men Aloud, a modern twist on the traditional male voice choir from Cardiff. However things were thrown somewhat into disarray by the shock exit of ACM in the semi-final. Now I don’t know quite whether the guys from ACM got over confident and were caught out by the other choirs improving more, or whether they just had a bad night, but it did seem to thrown the competition open a bit. However by the end, despite some stunning performances – the improvement in Ysgol Glanaethwy, the youth choir from Bangor was amazing, and I’m still very impressed that a youth choir would attempt and produce such a fantastic performance of O Fortuna – but the ultimate winners were a well deserved Only Men Aloud. If you want to hear what some of the music was like, ACM Gospel Choir have an album newly released – although listening to it I can certainly hear the voices of some of the judges as a couple of things they spotted are present on the album.

Reality TV wise we’ve also had the finale of this years Big Brother. What perhaps is most interesting about this is that it was a bit of a bad night for the bookies as there was no clear winner. If you compare the final percentages for the 2008 finale with the results in 2007 you can see that each evictee on the final night was within a few percentage points of staying it – and the final winner was decided on only about three percent of the vote compared to a lead of over twenty percent last year – really it could have gone to almost any of the final five. Quite what will happen next year I don’t know – the programme got lower ratings than ever this year, and the show isn’t the guarantee of even Z-list status it once was. As this Times article from today quotes Craig Phillips winner of the first series:

“I speak to a lot of Big Brother contestants from the past few years and they’re all struggling. They can’t get work in the media but they can’t get a ‘normal’ job in a supermarket. It’s not going to be all red carpets for this year’s winner.”

I doubt they’ll drop the show before it’s tenth anniversary next year, but quite what it’s longevity will be after that I don’t know.

Class of 2008

So as one high-profile reality show draws to a close, with the Apprentice being announced next week, another, Big Brother, began it’s ninth run this week. Once again, The Times Online is blogging about the whole thing, which as before is an entertaining read, and if you don’t want to watch the whole thing is the ideal place to keep up to date with key events so you don’t get totally left behind in the water cooler gossip. The W.H.Auden rip off with which they began the blog this year about sums up their take on the whole thing:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the freaks, let the viewers come!

Looking at the selection who went into the house there were the usual stereotypical mix of Big Brother contestants, in fact you could almost tick off some of them. We have nineteen year old Stephanie wanting to be the most famous housemate ever – I fear she’ll be sadly disappointed in that wish though as very few of the later contestants have built any sort of major fame off the back of the programme. We do have the first couple to go into the house, Mario and Lisa, who are both a good ten years older than the rest of the contestants – as the first task, they are currently having to pretend not to be a couple, with Mario instead being required to pretend that Stephanie, the youngest person in the house is his girlfriend. It’s also worth highlighting that Mario presents himself as “the Italian stallionâ€?, (he does look rather like a cross between Joey from Friends and Sylvester Stallone) despite the fact that his real name is Shaun, and he’s never been to Italy… .

As had been rumoured beforehand, there is a blind contestant this year, Mikey, a radio producer from Scotland. The main change to help him was that he had a member of the production staff who guided him into the house, and a verbal announcement that the door was open for him to enter, aside from that it looks like there will be no differences.

Amongst the contestants most like to get noticed, chief amongst them is Rebecca, a nursery nurse from Coventry, who sounded frighteningly like Vicky Pollard at times, when she wasn’t screaming her way through the rest of the show. Also high on the hyperactive scale is Thai massage therapist Kathreya who loves cookies. We also have Rex, who is an executive chef. Whether he takes over the kitchen or not will be interesting to see. Taking over is quite often a recipe for a swift eviction… Needless to say there are quite a few with apparently strong opinions, usually totally at odds with other contestants, although at least half the time the strong opinions seem to be a ploy to get through the selection process.

At this stage, a lot of the contestants don’t really seem to stand out – it really starts to come down to which differentiate themselves (or are differentiated by the producers) in the highlights shows before the front runners start to show themselves. Certainly I expect we’ll find some of the contestants that attract most attention will be the most swiftly voted out, as whatever the audience seems to think about who is the most watch-able contestants, they are usually the biggest pains to live with so are swiftly put up for nomination. Anyway, in three months it’ll all be over for another year. Ratings for the launch were down again, but invariably it takes a bit of controversy for most people to start watching – equally controversy is exactly what the sponsors don’t want… So it begins again…

Another Big Brother, Another Racism Row

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Barely a week into the new series of Big Brother, the show has shot into the headlines again (and pulled in an extra million viewers) thanks to Emily, one of the contestants using “the N-Word� during a conversation with fellow contestants Charley and Nicky.

Thanks in no small part to the Shilpa Shetty controversy earlier in the year, although I suspect in part driven by the fact that at 3am Charley and Nicky were still discussing the incident – more concerned that Emily would be punished it seems – the producers took the decision to eject Emily and woke her up and removed her from the house in the early hours of Thursday morning.

There are a number of interesting observations about what has happened. Firstly Narinder, a housemate from Big Brother 2 is currently writing a book about the series interviewing former housemates about their experiences. She appeared this morning on BBC Breakfast to discuss this incident and said that every previous housemate from a racial minority, including herself, have had some sort of incident, but the majority have not been shown. She even highlighted that as part of the fight that occurred during Big Brother 5 that eventually required security guards to enter the house Emma used the same word as an insult towards Victor.

Her opinion was both that Channel 4 was both right to show the incident in full, and that they were right to eject Emily as a result, more-so having seen the incident on the highlights show. I think what is most shocking about what happens is that Emily really doesn’t understand quite how offensive the word is. When Nicky asks her where she is from (Bristol), Emily says that she and her friends use it all the time. Nicky, who was brought up in Watford says that the word would never be used where she came from. Emily also tries to justify it by stating that the word is used in many songs – which it is. Also worth considering is that Nicky is about ten years older than Emily. Whether it is something regional, or to do with the people Emily knows, or whether the use of the term in music has resulted in some groups not understanding the offence caused by the term I don’t know. Suffice to say that by not just editing it out this time, Channel 4 has certainly highlighted that the use of the word is offensive.

Having said that, whilst Emily has been ejected because her use of a word would be offensive to the viewing public, the Times BB Blog highlighted that people have expressed possibly offensive views without using offensive language. Certainly if they disciplined anyone who expressed an opinion that was either naive or offensive to one group in the same way as Emily was disciplined then there wouldn’t be many contestants left. However the question is what impression does that give to people watching about the relative importance of words as opposed to beliefs?

Here we Go Again

Big Brother 8 has kicked off, netting Channel 4 a 6.2 million average audience last night. The twist this year is that all the eleven initial housemates are women…

For a straightforward run-down of the first housemates head over to the BBC. Alternatively, The Times is once again providing a service to those who want to keep up with the house and is running their Big Brother Blog – their housemate rundown is somewhat more entertaining…

Whilst you’re taking a look at this years selection, check out this rundown of what previous housmates are doing now. There is a real mix of attempted media careers, normal jobs, and even a few who have left the country, but the biggest surprise is George who walked on day 13 last year, and shunned all media contact – he now works for Big Brother on their media relations team!

Jo and Cleo Out

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So once again the voting went with the bookies – 48.4% to evict Jo, and 27.9% to evict Cleo. Jo was really no surprise anyway as the tabloids were campaigning to get her out – indeed if Danielle had been up, I have no doubt it would have been her and Jo to go instead. Having said that, Danielle did hear the crowd chanting ‘Get Jo Out’ – and I think is now even more frightened about what her reception will be. Certainly Danielle has received worse press than Jo in some respects, and also has the possibility that things may be over with her Teddy.

Interview wise, the pattern of the interview with Jo was similar to that with Jade last week, aside from a joke about her dressing gown at the beginning (some of the Times CBB Blog readers will be disappointed that she wasn’t evicted in the dressing gown…) – indeed the news footage sequence was identical to last week. Davina went through the key moments of controversy, and not surprisingly, Jo denied being a racist. She also said that showing an edited version of the arguments made it look worse than it was, to which Davina said that the production team had watched the everything at it wasn’t much better. The other interesting moment of the interview was when Jo justified her laughing as being her normal reaction to stressful situations, at which point she briefly laughed, and commented that she’d probably start laughing from the stress now. The brought a very swift and direct response from Davina of “I wouldn’tâ€?… To some extent, in the same way as with Jade I suspect the real grilling will come from one of the tabloid newspapers on Sunday.

Cleo didn’t escape criticism either, as in the same argument she didn’t intervene, but eventually went and got Jermaine to come and help. She justified this in her interview by saying that she felt that since Jermaine commanded respect from both sides of the argument she felt he was better to intervene. She also demonstrated at the end of her interview quite how impressions can be different in the outside world than within the house by suggesting that she thought Danielle and Jack would do well – which produced a pretty well instant reaction from the audience. Davina said that it would be interesting to see how she felt when she had seen the newspaper coverage, and also heard some of the comments that have been caught on camera. I’m quite sure that Danielle and Jack will be the first two out on Sunday, the only question being who will be out first.

As to who will actually win, the bookies are favouring Shilpa, mainly as a result of the earlier events in the house. However I’d not rule out the possibility of Jermaine coming out on top. Dirk has some supporters, and certainly he is entertaining at times, and does have a pretty dry sense of humour, however I’d really be surprised if it wasn’t either Shilpa or Jermaine at the end.

Finally, it looks like Channel 4 are riding high – the director of programmes has come out and said that the race row saved the show from being dull

Big Brother Racism Fallout

Not surprisingly, as the first Sunday after Jade was evicted, we have more of the fallout from the events of the last week. Chief among them is the News of the World Exclusive, that main feature of this is ‘Jade on Trial‘ where they give her a surprisingly detailed questioning over all the controversial comments from herself, but also comments made by Jo, Danielle and Jack.

There are one or two other interesting points that have come out, firstly that Jade has visited India fairly recently as her perfume is manufactured in a factory over there and she wanted to visit the plant. Other interesting facts to come out are that according to the Guardian, Jade’s Mum is a practising Muslim – the quote stating this is about halfway down. The rest of the article is worth reading too, as it highlights quite what a problem Channel 4 now has with the perception that they let things go on longer than they should in order to boost ratings. Having said that, haven’t they always let this sort of thing go on longer than it should do boost ratings, remember the alcohol fuelled brawl in 2004 that earned a rebuke from Ofcom because they waited twenty minutes before sending in the security guards, an argument that was again underpinned by accusations of racism against Victor by Emma.

In terms of the ‘Was she told about what had happened?’ debate, Jade categorically denies this in the News of the World. Watching the highlights show for Friday it is clear that the housemates were aware something is going on as they appear to have been kept inside most of the day due to helicopters hovering over ahead. This coupled with both the lack of crowd noise, and the questions Big Brother had been asking them led them to conclude that something has been going on. Interestingly there were also discussions between the remaining two girls as to how they have been perceived too.

Of course as they will discover, their careers have just the same problems as Jade does – alongside the Jade interview, the News of the World has also said that Danielle has been ditched by Teddy Sheringham who is said to feel that he has been put in an impossible position with his team mates, who like many football teams are drawn from a range of different countries and backgrounds. Not surprisingly her contribution to the comments has left him ’embarrassed and deeply ashamed’.

In terms of looking for a positive outcome, the Education Secretary has said that schools should use the programme to tackle racial issues – and certainly suggest that with the number of young people who will have watched this week, youth groups could well use it as a topic for discussion. The Archbishop of York, himself invited to be on this series of the programme but who wisely passed, has commented on racism in the UK. It is fair to say that he is no stranger to the topic, I have always remembered him describing the number of times he was ‘randomly’ stopped by the police whilst driving his car when he was Bishop of Stepney, and the transformation in the behaviour of the officers when they found out who he was. His comments included the following:

“Sadly ignorance is not in short supply. Racism is real.

As the week’s events on reality television demonstrate, there is an ugly underbelly in society only too ready to point the finger at the foreigner, or those who might not fit in.â€?

Indeed, the leader in the News of the World makes a similar point – much as I said on Friday whilst large, there were still 18% of voters who voted to keep her in. They also want to see both Danielle and Jo booted out, and Shilpa to win.

Of course quite the most frightening part of this whole thing, is the fact that as a result, in the course of one posting, I’ve linked to, and approved of quite so much of what the News of the World has said… 😮

Jade Goes, Endemol Wins?

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So not unsurprisingly, Jade has been evicted from Celebrity Big Brother. This Week, the late night current affairs programme, discussed the whole issue, and at one point the comment was made that if they were in Gordon Browns office today they would be frantically calling the number to evict Jade as all over the world it is going to be compared against his statement that Britain is not racist or intolerant. Looking at the results, Jade was evicted with 82% of the vote, a sizeable majority but not a record by any means – Grace was evicted with 87.9% of the vote and Sezer with 91.6% in the most recent series of the normal programme. Certainly after their statements those in government should perhaps worry about the fact that 18% of the audience wanted to either keep Jade in the house or remove Shilpa after the events of the week.

Having said that, Channel 4 and Endemol were nervous enough about the situation to ban the public from tonight’s programme. That’s not to say that they didn’t milk it somewhat. Rather than the usual routine for a non-crowd eviction of having Davina in the studio, they did the show pretty much as normal, out on the stage, and even added sound effects – Beth remarked at one point that she expected to see tumbleweeds blowing past anytime soon. They also didn’t play crowd noise into the house as they usually would, so the celebrities knew something was up – although many of them had already realised what was going on from the questions that they had been asked in the diary room.

Looking at the highlights shown before the eviction, it all told a very nice story, as by the end of yesterday, Jade had realised how her behaviour would have been perceived, and had made her peace with Shilpa, and had then gone and broken down in the diary room and considered walking out. Interestingly it then seems that she had decided to stick it out – quite how much she was influenced into making the decision we don’t know.

We watched part of Big Brother’s Big Mouth after the eviction, where amongst other people they spoke to Max Clifford about what will happen to Jade and her career now. He said that in his opinion she could recover, but it would be difficult. However he then followed this up with a fairly direct comment directed at Endemol, saying that he believed that they had exploited Jade. When they put her and her family in, they knew exactly what they were doing, and what they thought would happen. True, I suspect they weren’t expecting the international diplomatic incident – but certainly they were expecting fireworks, and that was what they got. Plus they got a significant boost in viewers as a result of the whole controversy. The thing is, is that I think Jade now realises it too. When in the diary room, and also on the programme tonight she was either played or quoted what had happened, she can quite clearly see how others will see her. She said several times that that wasn’t her, but sadly it is much the same way she behaved when she was on the show originally – all the producers had to do back then was give her some alcohol, and she provided a variety of press grabbing stories, and indeed that was pretty much what happened this time.

It’s also interesting to look at the points during the week when Big Brother actually called particular housemates into the diary room and quoted back their words. Notice that it was pretty well done one per day, and that despite Jade being the ring leader, they took both Danielle and Jo in first, leaving the discussions with Jade until last, and of course giving a nice little conclusion to the ‘story’, with Jade apparently realising the error of her ways, just in time to be evicted. Of course what else was said in the diary room, and how much she was told about what had happened outside is open to question.

So what have we got to come over the remaining days? Danielle and Jo had already made their peace with Shilpa prior to the eviction, even if they didn’t see it at the time, both of them like Jade can see how their words will be perceived when forced to think about it after the event, and both know that they need to redress the balance, to keep their careers. (Indeed Danielle was apparently given a list of tips by her agent before she went in – tips she forgot it seems…) The real unknown quantity is Jack, Jade’s nineteen year old boyfriend. His whole reason for being in the house was Jade, and I suspect that the original idea was that both he and Jade would make it to the final show, or at least that he would leave first – remember the rumours were that having been the most successful ex-contestant, this series was going to be an opportunity for Jade to win. The interesting thing is he hasn’t really registered on people’s radar – he’s just been in the background. The brief moments where he has spoken do register though. Although he hasn’t apparently been called into the diary room and had his words quoted back to him, he has been shown stoking up some of the bad feeling towards Shilpa in much the same way as the other three – there being one notable discussion that he had with Jade over Shilpa, where he says point blank that he hates Shilpa – there is debate over another part of the same conversation, as the word was bleeped, (Ruth Gledhill has a clip of the relevant scene with a clear opinion as to what he said) – either way it is not a nice statement at all. Whatever he said, he certainly has a big issue with Shilpa which may only get worse with him blaming her for Jade going. What with the other celebrities apparently now closing ranks, I very much think he is going to be the outsider – quite how he reacts, and how long he lasts remains to be seen. Whatever, it certainly could be a potential source of problems to come – although with his lack of celebrity if he does kick off I suspect he may end up being removed by the back door so as not to mess up the nice storyline that Endemol have managed to produce from this week.