Category 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…

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!

The Ultimate Car Crash TV – Beaten by a Car Crash

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So the most controversial series of Big Brother ever, the ultimate in car crash TV, was beaten in the ratings by a real life car crash – the return of Top Gear, complete with exclusive footage of the crash that nearly took the life of Richard Hammond.

Thanks to the wonders of Sky+, we watched both, Top Gear as it went out, and Celebrity Big Brother tonight – spooling through the adverts of course. 😀

Anyway, Top Gear first. Not surprisingly they made a big song and dance about having the Hamster back – quite literally. Clarkson and May opened the show alone, and then having done their opening spiel, introduced Hammond who came down a sort of slightly cheap effort at a glittering celeb style staircase – as Clarkson said, they didn’t really want to spend too much on it! After that Hammond thanked everybody involved in the aftermath of the accident, and people for all their good wishes, and the show proceeded very much as any normal episode. We had Clarkson taking the new Jaguar around the track, and all three of the presenters attempting to complete some roadworks in record time, and the star in a reasonably priced car was Jamie Oliver. Then we got to the main event. If you’ve read the Richard Hammond article in the most recent edition of the Top Gear Magazine this was effectively the same thing but with pictures. So we saw Richard Hammond do one of his pieces to camera where he rather prophetically says that using the afterburner could lead to the biggest accident you’ve ever seen in your life… We saw his earlier runs, and then the actual run that went wrong. There has been concern over whether the footage should be shown at all – Richard Hammond himself addresses it on his Top Gear Blog. He quite rightly says that although it is sensitive, the footage should be shown, precisely to show that things do go wrong, and that even with all the safety equipment and every care being taken, things do go wrong. As he says:

I figure that if just one individual scorching round the back roads in their hot hatch remembers seeing me upside down at 230mph and thinks that yes, if things can go that badly wrong in Top Gear’s TV fantasy world then they could in the real world, and they lift off because there might just be a tractor coming round that blind corner at the worst possible moment, then it’s all been worth it.

Not really much I can add to that. The whole segment, along with other clips is available online on the BBC2 Broadband Service, or an edited version on the BBC News Site.

So over to the other side, and the final of Celebrity Big Brother. Really there were no surprises – indeed I actually pretty well predicted the final order on Friday night. Danielle and Jack came out first. Although they came out together, officially Jack was in sixth, with Danielle in fifth. They were greeted by pretty unanimous booing, and as with Jo and Jade got the now familiar selection of clips, were speechless, and denied being racist. Ian was out next to a warm reception from the crowd – as Davina said, the first evictee not to be booed. Dirk was up next, again to a good reception – with parts of the crowd singing the A-Team theme. Then it came down to the final two, with Jermaine Jackson coming in second to a great response, complete with a Jackson Five sing-along.

Finally we had Shilpa, and a really quite surprising reaction from parts of the crowd. It was really apparent that there was a vocal minority in the crowd who really didn’t like Shilpa. I think it’s perhaps the first time that a winner has had quite such a mixed reaction. In terms of the voting, she had 63% of the final vote, so it was a win by a good margin, but clearly she is a contestant that divided opinion. Indeed some people even believed it was fixed.

We then got to the interview. It is interesting to note, that in her earlier interview, Danielle had been asked how she thought Shilpa would react when she saw the same clips, to which Danielle responded that she would be forgiving. That produced a decidedly grumbly reaction from the audience – but in fact proved to be right.

Shilpa was shown all the key clips, and all the things that had been said about her behind her back, and was quite visibly shocked. However in response she was anything if not magnanimous:

I just want to forget things. Things happen and people make mistakes. We’re all human beings, we’re all fallible. Jade didn’t mean to be racist…If this created any sort of misunderstanding, I want to put things to rest – she is not a racist…I am so happy I took up this opportunity. I don’t want people to think they welcomed an Indian and she made trouble here.

Those sentiments were further reiterated at the post show press conference when Shilpa along with the other celebrities defended Jade and also backed a tearful Danielle when she appeared to face the press.

Needless to say, the pleas have fallen on somewhat deaf ears with the tabloid press – having had Jade, and then Jo, they are now concentrating on Danielle, whose relationship with Teddy Sheringham is now the subject of ‘talks‘.

So fairly obviously, Jade, Jo and Danielle have done serious damage to their careers through the events of the programme, whilst Shilpa has gone from being unknown to being probably the best known Indian celebrity in the UK. I expect to see more of Ian and Dirk in the UK over the coming months too. Perhaps the most interesting bit of information to come up is that Jermaine Jackson is actually putting together a musical about his family that will be launched in the UK – expect many more sing-along a Jackson Five to come…