Tag Archives: Big Brother

Big Brother Causing a Diplomatic Incident

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So little did I think when I commented at the weekend on the attitude of of Jo, Danielle and Jade towards Shilpa in Celebrity Big Brother, that events would go quite the way they have.

As of tonight, Celebrity Big Brother has produced 21,000 complaints – still a long way short of the number who complained about Jerry Springer – The Opera, but a significant number none the less. Having said that, alongside this the programme has made an impact in politics with Tony Blair asked about it in Prime Ministers Questions, and Gordon Brown perhaps regretting his choice of time to visit India, as street protests occur in the country following a newspaper front page on the story. People are even talking about how the programme may be damaging the reputation of the UK abroad.

Having watched the relevant episodes of the programme, there hasn’t been anything that I would say has been an out and out racist comment, what has been going on has been somewhat more subtle – of course this is only what has been shown. In terms of the scenes shown on the programmes, the witches coven of Jo, Danielle and Jade have been bitching about pretty well everything that Shilpa has done, for most of the series, particularly if she does something in a way that doesn’t conform with how they would have done things. One big area of contention has been over the cooking, of which Shilpa has been doing quite a bit, particularly a roast chicken that she made at the weekend. For example there have been complaints over too many onions in one meal she cooked. The most major disagreement so far, and the one in the programme which has provoked the complaints, was over how long the chicken should have been cooked for, with Shilpa suggesting a lot lower time than some of the others. What didn’t help was that all during the cooking, people kept opening the oven to look at the chicken and argue over it, hence even though the chicken was in the oven for longer than the amount of time the coven suggested – about two hours, it still wasn’t quite done. To be frank, a lot of it is down to cultural differences – unfortunately the way the coven are dealing with it is by bitching and bullying. Of course with the issues being cultural, a number of the comments could be construed as being racist, even if the coven haven’t directly made a comment on her race directly. Ironically, the attitudes seem to be being fuelled more by the suspicion that Shilpa is another Chantelle – the ‘fake’ celebrity who won the show last year, mainly based on the fact that none of them had heard of her. Ironically, in many ways she is probably a bigger star than them, she is just relatively unknown in the UK.

So if it’s not racism, then what is it? Carole Malone has suggested that it may be a class issue. Maybe – but I think it is as much to do with age and maturity. I’ve quite often remarked that I tend to prefer the celebrity version of the show, as the contestants are generally older, certainly the way Jo, Danielle and Jade are behaving is much more akin to what occurs on the regular version of the programme. If someone older goes into the house as part of the regular programme, they often find it hard, and have trouble fitting in with the other housemates, here we have something similar, except that nearly half the house is over thirty, so rather than one person being isolated there is a virtual divide between the under thirties, and the over thirties. Jo, Danielle and Jade are all under thirty, as is Jack, Jade’s boyfriend who is the youngest at nineteen. Everybody else is over thirty, and whilst being supportive to Shilpa, seem to be trying to avoid conflict over the issue. Interestingly, Carole Malone also suggested in her interview that if someone like Cleo or Jermaine said something about the situation to the coven it might get resolved, however at this point although Cleo seems to have tried to get Jade and Shilpa to resolve things, they do generally seem to be trying to keep their heads down.

As to what will happen from now, Channel 4 seem to be sticking with the show, and whilst giving assurances to the press haven’t said anything to the celebrities about what is going on. Currently all the contestants remain totally oblivious to what has been going on outside. Perhaps the biggest test will come with the next eviction on Friday, particularly if one of the coven is voted out – whether Channel 4 will manipulate the voting perhaps by banning selected housmates from voting to ensure that happens I don’t know – I guess we’ll have to keep watching to find out. Ironically, out of all of this Channel 4 has had one of the highest number of viewers for the series so far, so I’m sure it is a possibility…

Update: So the comment rumbles on. Ruth Gledhill has put up a posting on the subject, focusing on class issues again, and there is a good list of other comment pieces on this blog. One amusing discovery though as a result is the discovery the The Times has a Big Brother Blog, under the by-line ‘We Watch So You Don’t Have To’. I’ve so far only watched about a third of the show from last night, and it certainly seems that the relationship between Jade and Shilpa worsens. Having said that, there is also apparently a realisation from Danielle thanks to some intervention from Big Brother, and a conversation about cultural differences between Danielle and Jo. Having said that things have taken a slight turn for the worst for Channel 4, with the news that Carphone Warehouse have suspended their sponsorship of the show, and alongside this Danielle and Jade will find other deals terminated by companies who do not wish to be associated with their comments. Could it be that Jade will find her career having been created by Big Brother the show will destroy it to?

Knowing What You’re Getting Yourself Into

So after a third celebrity walkout from Big Brother this time around, I’m left wondering whether any of the celebs actually bothered to look at tapes of the series before they went in, or read their contracts.

I’ve just watched the latest highlights show, which includes the actual walkout, with Leo Sayer storming out by breaking open a fire door. What was most amazing about it though was quite what a hatchet job the producers did on Sayer. There always seems to be an assumption amongst the celebrities that the show won’t be edited to show them in a bad light, and that they will be treated as celebrities, something that Leo had previously argued with the producers over, even asking to see a copy of his contract. However, the programme shows an awful lot that the celebs don’t expect. For example, although there isn’t a camera in the toilet or shower (there is in the non-celeb version of the show incidentally) there are microphones, so the moments when various celebs head off to the bathroom for what they thing is a private chat, turns up in the highlights show. I’m assuming that Sayer probably thought that his contract arguments in the diary room weren’t going to be shown, but they were there as well. However in a big break with tradition, the highlights show well and truly broke with only showing the world inside the house, and we got quite a long sequence of footage of Sayer outside the house, including him arguing with the producers, and the security guards having to physically restrain him on a number of occasions. Usually on a walkout or escape, aside from maybe a brief shot of the security guards, you don’t see much. This time we saw a lot more, and certianly more than I think Sayer will expect, or appreciate!

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Anyway, back to the beginning of tonight’s hatchet job. Towards the start of the show, there was a discussion amongst some of the other celebs about how those celebrities with real talent didn’t discuss it, but those who didn’t have real talent, tended to keep loudly discussing their talent and achievements in order to keep attention. Then within minutes we have more footage of Sayer discussing his various hit records with Jack. There were then also various other sequences of Sayer getting annoyed, before the discussion over clean underwear in the diary room where he said that he wouldn’t be seen washing his underwear on national television, and that he was going to leave through the fire doors. He then stormed out of the diary room, and had two goes at getting the fire doors in the garden open, before taking a broom to prise them open. Then was the most unexpected sequences. Inter-cut with footage of the other housemates discussing his exit you saw Sayer shouting and swearing at the security staff, with the security staff calling for backup from the production team whilst trying to restrain Sayer. The production team then appearing with a camera – that Sayer then went for as he lost it again. He was then taken to stand by a car a short distance from the house, whilst a producer discussed what had happened, however he still had his microphone on, and thanks to the zoom on one of the house cameras, the programme got the whole discussion on tape, including a moment when one of the producers asked him how other of the celebrities were feeling, when Sayer kicked off yet again. Even in the post watershed slot where most of the swearing is left in, there were some things that he said to the various staff involved that were bleeped out. The full, non-bleeped version is now available on YouTube

So why did they go so far this time? Perhaps because they’re expecting a lot of fallout from angry viewers who spent money trying to vote Leo out? However, it might well be more to do with the previous nights show. Sayer agreed to give an exit interview on the programme – I assume because his management team had advised him how bad he had looked over the past few days. So Davina made various jokes about Leo leaving in a row over underpants, and then Sayer gives a totally calm, collected interview where he jokes that he still had clean underwear, and complains that the towels were too fluffy. He also admits to ‘not watching much TV’ at home – hence why he hasn’t seen the even more controversial Aussie version of the show, and then apologises if he has been a bit rude to any Big Brother staff – until tonight we’d seen him complain in the diary room, and be restrained on his initial exit from the house. Tonight I think was the producers showing as much as they could of what he was apologising for!

Needless to say, from being a favourite to win the show before it began, within the space of a few days, Leo Sayer has probably caused his career no end of difficulties in the future. Some former stars enjoy a bit of a renaissance through the show, Sayer will probably get exactly the opposite. He’s also caused decided problems for the future of the show, since amongst other things his exit has left some of the other celebs in the show – Jermaine Jackson, Dirk Benedict and Shilpa Shetty in particular becoming increasingly uncomfortable, and all of them discussing the possibility of following Sayer out of the show. Alongside this there is witches coven that seems to be forming between Jo, Danielle and Jade, that is squaring up against Shilpa. Behind the coven you have Jack stirring things up (and not much else aside from one notable Big Brother first), and Jermaine giving support to Shilpa.

So are they going to get more walkouts? I’m not sure, if things get out of control between Shilpa and the coven, I can see both Shilpa and Jermaine heading for the exit – and quite how long Dirk the one other non-British celeb stays around if those two go will be difficult to judge too. It will certainly be interesting to see how things go from here as we’re not even halfway through, and especially interesting to see if the producers modify the programme to try and keep the remaining celebs sweet…

Archbishop Turns Down Big Brother

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This news story raised a smile. Apparently the producers of Celebrity Big Brother contacted the office of the Archbishop of York to ask whether John Sentamu would be willing to appear on the show.

It is perhaps a mark of quite how much he has registered with the public over the year since he was installed that he was even asked, but as I would expect, he turned the offer down. His spokesman summed it up well:

He has a good track record of constructive engagement with the wider media, but where the message stops being about Jesus and starts being about him then he has no hesitation in saying ‘no’.

Apparently he has also turned down Have I Got News for You in the past.

TV News

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So Robin Hood has been given a second series – which we were slightly surprised at. There have been some seriously groan inducing moments (the I Shot the Sheriff joke in episode three being particularly bad), and some decidedly modern looking costumes at times. Having said that, I doubt that this is really a concern. Whilst Robin of Sherwood was aiming for gritty and authentic in terms of production design, this Robin Hood seems to be aiming much more for the old style swashbuckling version of the legend, more concerned with crowd pleasing at the expense of trying to be accurate. To date it has been fairly entertaining, and finally as of “The Taxman Comethâ€? and “Brothers in Armsâ€? the Sheriff is starting to come across as a lot more chilling.

Other TV news includes the not unsurprising revelation that ratings for the debut of Lost on Sky One have fallen by more than one million. Certainly my parents who although they were avid viewers of the series on Channel 4, and have terrestrial digital aren’t going to go out and get Sky. Certainly it will be interesting to see if there is an increased uptake of the DVD releases… As to our opinion of the first two episodes that were shown in the UK last week, we haven’t actually got around to watching them. What with my trip to the US last week, and a busy week for Beth this week, we haven’t had a chance to sit down and watch!

Oh, and one final revelation that will surprise nobody, after being hammered by Big Brother 7, (Celebrity) Love Island has been put out of it’s misery and will not be returning. With ratings this year down on last, and half that of Big Brother, I doubt ITV could afford the expense…

All Over for Another Year

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So last night Big Brother came to an end for another year. Davina McCall managed to make it through too, despite being due to give birth in three weeks.

Thanks to the Sky+ we probably saw a lot more of this series than in previous years, although like most people we were pretty sure from the first week that Pete was going to win.

There were significantly more housemates this year too, with a total of twenty-two appearing at some point. Interestingly only twenty of them actually appeared on the final show thanks to Sezer having been arrested on a rape charge, and Dawn having been ejected for breaking the rules and subsequently fallen out with the producers.

In some ways it got more entertaining in the final couple of weeks – whilst like many I wasn’t overly impressed with the idea of putting in returning housemates, it has to be said the problems Big Brother had keeping control once they’d done so was quite amusing. Despite the return of Nikki, the final week proved to be pretty enjoyable, with highlights being Pete’s private nightclub, and Glyn taking advantage of the Welsh speaking Big Brother to get Nikki to repeat something that didn’t quite match up with what she wanted to say.

I’m certainly of the opinion that there were rather too many twists this year, and definitely think that they maybe need to change things around a bit for next year.

Having said that, the final was good, with only really another cringing exit from the house by Nikki being a low spot – does anyone else think she seriously needs to see a psychiatrist? Having said that, the results were never really in much doubt, with Pete picking up over 61% of the final vote.

Certainly it will be interesting to see what happens to Pete now – although I’m sure we’ll see him and a few of the housemates around on TV for the next year or so – at least until the next lot of hopefuls enter the house in summer 2007 when it all starts again.

Multiple Voting

So it seems that we didn’t need to vote quite so many times for Sezer as we did… As anybody who saw tonight’s Big Brother, we weren’t alone in wanting him out, in fact a record-breaking proportion of the audience – 91.6% – wanted him out too… But then Beth was really determined. The combination of the regular chauvinist comments, and all round cockiness in thinking all the women would want to keep him in (I bet he hadn’t even packed his case), annoyed Beth to the point that for the first time she actually wanted to vote in an eviction!

How Many Housemates Does It Take?

Ok, I confess it, I’ve got the Big Brother highlights show set up on the Sky+… I guess I should insert some pitiful excuse as to why I’ve got the daddy of all the car crash TV reality shows set up to record, but I won’t bother – it’s just one of these shows that is at various times addictive, frustrating, and even entertaining.

What is quite amazing this year is the rate with which they are getting through housemates. Having started off with two more than usual, they Shahbaz walking out within five days, Dawn officially being ejected (although she wanted to go anyway) and now being on hunger strike for her footage, then the first proper eviction on Friday, no sooner have they put in two new housemates, do we find George walking out. At this rate I doubt if there will be anybody left by the end of the run!

Of course if you’re really keen to join the house, the Big Brother Golden Ticket competition is hotting up – and you don’t even need to eat a chocolate bar to get a ticket – a quick scan on eBay will find a number of the tickets up for sale.

Having said that, there is a certain irony to George’s reasons for walking out – I mean how many of the ex-housemates from previous years are still in the public eye?