In what felt like one last flick of the Vs at the programme’s loyal audience, the 19th and final series of ‘Big Brother’ came to a pre-recorded and somewhat hurried conclusion last night. Unlike its previous conclusion on Channel 4 back in 2010 where the show was given a send-off worthy of its legacy, Channel 5 instead chose to push its final visit to the Borehamwood bungalow back to 10:00pm in order to prioritise yet another programme about trains. I suppose you can’t fault their consistency though; after all, every eviction show of the final series fell victim to Channel 5’s current obsession with all things train-related so why should the grand finale be any different?
Perhaps I’m just being paranoid. But as a long-time fan of the original reality television behemoth it’s felt like Channel 5 were determined to make this series fail no matter what. Right from the un-gracious way that the programmes axing was announced on launch day, to the disappointing lack of live feed and frankly ludicrous scheduling, to the shortest and most undignified final in ‘Big Brother’ UK history. Channel 5’s Director of Programming Ben Frow has made no secret in the past of his dislike of the franchise but as a long-time viewer and fan of the show,’ this final series has genuinely felt like 53 days of Mr Frow sticking the boot in where it hurts. As if determined to make the final series fail, and fail hard in order to somehow justify his controversial decision to bring down the axe.
That was the problem with ‘Big Brother’ during its run on Channel 5. They just didn’t know how to treat the beast that they had acquired with the respect that it deserved. Rather than sticking to the original raw reality format that the programme had enjoyed so much success with and thrived on during the early years, Channel 5 instead tried to steer the good ship BB towards the course of other, more contemporary reality shows such as ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ in order to try and attract a new younger audience. Out went the lengthy shopping tasks, interesting discussions and live feeds and in came buckets of fish guts, viewer’s tweets and a steady supply of booze in order to generate arguments and controversy. ‘Big Brother’ was no longer the king of reality television, merely a drunken pawn that had gone off the rails. It wasn’t a social experiment anymore but simply a stage for Viacom to showcase their latest reality TV stars to an influential teenage audience, all hungry for the next batch of ‘Geordie Shore’ wannabes.
That wasn’t what ‘Big Brother’ was originally meant to be about though. The original premise of the show was to put a number of everyday people into a house, film them 24 hours a day and observe how they behave and interact with each other. It was never about the booze-fuelled arguments and controversy that the Channel 5 era has delivered. At some point during the seven-year journey the show simply lost its way. And despite the best efforts of current producer Paul Osbourne and his team it never really stood a chance of recovering with Channel 5 calling the shots.
At this point in time the future is looking somewhat uncertain for ‘Big Brother’. Despite the rumours flying around about Netflix possibly acquiring the show, nothing has been confirmed. Personally I feel the show needs resting for a couple of years now before making a comeback with a broadcaster that is prepared to treat the show with the love and respect that it deserves. One thing that is for sure though is that ‘Big Brother’ is best off as far away from Channel 5 as possible.
‘Big Brother’ WILL get back to you.