Putrid Modern Hell #21

by HST UK on November 13, 2011

It was a bright cold day in August, and the clocks were striking twenty one…

Big Brother is back! Channel 5 has inherited the show from Channel 4, and kept many of the things that made the show great, a similar house layout, Marcus Bentley’s Geordie narration, Brian Dowling (now in the role of host) and the diary room. For a fanboy of the show like me, the familiarity has quickly given way to a feeling of contempt.

Firstly rather then let the show settle with a version containing members of the public, we’ve gone straight into the Celeb version. One of the names mentioned as a possible contestant for this year’s returning Celebrity Big Brother was the recently departed Amy Winehouse. There were other names rumoured, equally troubled stars hoping for a career revival. Big names, such boxer Ricky Hatton, Charlie Sheen, Burt Reynolds, Judge Reinhold, Rolf Harris, and Roland the Rat.

Watching the show yesterday evening I was shocked at the state of celebrity; though this shock might also be an acknowledgement that the Big Brother franchise in the UK is in its final days. The move from Channel 4 to Channel 5 seemed like it was a step down, a sign that the show was being relegated from front page of the tabloid to a minor mention in the TV schedule. Unlike previous years I had heard of hardly any of the shows contestants. I remember fondly the infamy and the glory of the Channel 4 CBB’s. Featuring the likes of Bollywood Queen Shilpa Shetty, ‘Bez’ from the Happy Mondays, the boxer Chris Eubank, Heidi Fleiss, LaToya Jackson, Coolio, Verne ‘Mini Me’ Troyer, Face from the original A-Team, Michael Barrymore and Les Dennis; people who had achieved at least something in their careers before a dramatic fall from grace.

This year we have an actor called Lucien Laviscount, who possibly took his name from a long lost Victorian novel, a model called Bobby Sabel, the wife of a Politician, the ex-wife of David Hasselhoff, and a gypsy bare knuckle boxer. Who are these people?

Before the revamped X-Factor, minus Simon Cowell, Danni Minogue and Cheryl Cole begins, and the bizarre UK version of the car crash televisual spectacular that is The Bachelor, featuring rugby’s Gavin Henson, the TV execs in charge of the new Big Bruv could’ve set millions of tongues wagging, with controversy and must see television. They could have roped in some NAMES. Instead we got mostly nobodies.

Bizarrely the ratings were a hit for the beleagued Channel 5, a channel that was cruelly said to mostly feature documentaries on Hitler, and softcore pornography. Over five million tuned in for the shows launch night. This was exceedingly good, and showed that perhaps the Big Brother franchise had some life left in it.

The problem the show faces is that there are more contestants in the house that people have no affinity with than in previous incantations. Can any of the recognized celebrities save the show? Former Atomic Kitten member and current failure as a human being Kerry Katona is one hope to retain the viewers. She courts controversy; in fact the last few years of her ‘career’ have centred upon how terrible her personal life is. Her countless fly on the wall vehicles have failed, and unlike many celebrities she couldn’t keep her drug taking secret.

Katona was given the first task by Big Brother, in which she has been instructed to behave like a diva. In the show’s second episode she actually carries it off quite well. Though, this seemed to conflict with her real life attempt to become more likeable in the public eye. It remains to be seen how long she lasts in the show before she cracks up, and ends up having another ghost-written book published about her inadequacies.

Irish twins Jedward are a lesson in the Great British Public’s love for detestable cretins. They found fame as a freak act on the X-Factor (last year’s freak act was a Brazilian Karate Instructor named Wagner who once fraudulently claimed incapacity benefits for a dodgy shoulder). Then they represented Ireland in the kitschy Eurovision song contest. They’ve endorsed numerous products including the Nintendo Wii and have made a boatload of cash despite being irritable, insufferable prats. Essentially they are a modern day version of the Krankies, only difference the Krankies never had good PR.

What’s mysterious about Jedward is that they are asexual, they don’t really appeal to the ladies and some gentleman like Bros did. They don’t even appeal to tween girls in a first crush way. They’re not really a poster on the bedroom wall act. I’ve been pondering why people actually find them endearing, perhaps it is because they represent carefree childhood memories, long since repressed by the shackles of responsibility.

A final hope for the show lies in the shape of Amy Childs. A glamour girl from the UK’s equivalent to The HillsThe Only Way is Essex. Having never seen TOWIE, and only read about it in passing when flicking through The Sun newspaper I’m guessing she’s a nice but dim sort; someone that possibly resembles former Celebrity Big Brother winner Chantelle Houghton.

Childs talks in that horrific mockney accent. Using the word ‘honey’ a lot like she’s been possessed by the ghost of Winnie-the-Pooh. She is attractive, looking like a tart that walks past you as you’re standing in the queue at the kebab shop at 2am, the one that might conjure a wolf whistle, or a Neanderthal uttering of “I would”.

For all its faults Big Brother has been a revolutionary worldwide television show, with a deep cultural and societal impact felt in the UK alone. It seems sad that Channel 5’s version of the show despite the initial curiosity spike in the viewing figures looks like it might fall at the first hurdle due to a pathetic array of celebrities. The fans of Big Bro could indeed desert the show before the series featuring ‘ordinary’ members of the public even begins.

-RJW

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