TAKE YOURSELF BACK to July, 2000. We had all just survived the millennium bug, everyone was obsessed with newcomer Eminem, and Nokia 3210s were in the hand of every teen.
As for our television habits? Big Brother was taking the UK and Ireland by storm. After the launch show, society was collectively bet into watching ten random people as they went about their every day lives, eating, sleeping, fighting, scheming, flirting.
Live feeds meant you could have a nose in at them whenever you pleased, even though in theory, none of these people mattered to you at all.
It was the first real ‘reality’ show of our time, and paved the way for the floods of different formats that followed. Big Brother walked so Love Island, I’m a Celebrity, and even Geordie Shore, could run.
I first noticed that Big Brother was not just your average new TV show when I toddled down for some water during the night and caught my mam watching a live feed of a bunch of people silently sleeping, lit up with a nightvision camera.
This wasn’t TV, it was a full-blown addiction. It appealed to the nosy curtain-twitcher in all of us.
Looking back at the launch show (which is on Youtube in its entirety, FYI), it’s pathetically simple compared to the flash and pantomime we’re accustomed to today.
The ten housemates just kinda, went into the house.
They explained a bit about themselves and everyone got on with it. The boos or the cheers were kept until their grand exits, when everyone had made up their minds.Source: UltimateBigBrotherUK/YouTube
You could literally walk up a small path to the front door, the garden looked like your nan’s, the bedroom looked like a particularly bad Dublin hostel, while the graphics looked like they were definitely done on MS Paint.
Even the living area looked like some student digs after a particularly scaldy aftersesh.
They even had cameras in the shower. Surely a no no now.
However, the nation was enthralled.
Who would win the £70,000 cash prize? None of the contestants, including Irish nun Anna Nolan, actually thought the general public would care.
Now, can you imagine someone going into Big Brother tonight doing it for the fun of it?
It was just a perfect combination of noughties’ perfection falling together. Davina McCall truly was in her presenting hey day, and Paul Oakenfold’s Element 4 became a national anthem.Source: xxleanne26xx/YouTube
Posh boy Nick Bateman became a villain after he broke the rules by smuggling a mobile phone, and was ejected from the house. You were hard pressed to find a tabloid that hadn’t filled at least three spreads with every minor detail from the day’s proceedings. All from some shithole in Bow, London. Again, these were just random humans, it was unheard of.
Builder Craig Phillips ended up winning the series, and for a moment was the most popular man in Britain. Blindboy Boatclub often uses Craig as a justification for wearing that plastic bag over his head.
How can you go from such sky-high fame, to returning to your old building job once it all burns out? I doubt you’d find someone who was aged double digits in 2000 that wouldn’t recognise Craig today.
It’s hard to know exactly when Big Brother reached its peak. Perhaps when the internet blew up and stole our attention span, or perhaps it’s when they cut the live feeds and started curating every bit of footage we could see?
Somewhere along the way, it lost its magic. It turned into a Made in Chelsea-esque narrative. We’re not seeing the full story here, we’re seeing an hour of a whole 24 hours, so why not just script it? We never get to truly know these strangers in their natural habitat, like we could at the beginning. Big Brother lost something of the reality.
While this cancellation was coming for a while, it’s still the end of an era. The official statement was quite careful to imply that it’s only the end of the road for the show on Channel 5, but should it really be picked up by another network? Let it die in peace, there’ll be another format to come along and pick up the pieces only to mould it into something new.
Have I told you about Love Island?
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