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