2000 Some love it, some hate it, but nobody can dispute the impact it’s made on television around the world over the last decade. Tonight, the final series of Big Brother in the UK will begin, and we’ll meet the final set of housemates. On here I’ll post up my thoughts on the night’s events as well as the last decade of the reality TV behemoth, plus I’ll grab a few choice quotes from Twitter if it’s working following today’s outages.
2004 So, here’s how it’s going to work: there are currently 80 possible housemates who think they’re in with a chance of getting into the house tonight. Having had a look at some of them, there are quite a few with the potential to create some great TV. Most will go home tonight, but around a dozen or so will enter the house tonight. After that, they face the usual 11-week battle to become winner, but when the eventual victor leaves the house at the end of August, they’ll be thrown straight back in again for another two weeks with a host of former BB housemates (including a few from the celebrity series) to discover who is to be crowned the ‘Ultimate Housemate’.
2007 One thing I can already be sure about is that the house looks absolutely stunning this year, probably my favourite of all eleven series. Here are a few pictures:
2010 And here’s a curious fellow who will be waiting to greet the housemates when they arrive in the house. His name is Bob Righter (an anagram of… yes, you’ve got it) and if you ask me, he’s rather creepy:
2016 Bob makes an appearance in the title sequence. Paul Oakenfold’s theme tune Daniel Eatock’s eye logo are so iconic and instantly recognisable that for the last few years there’s been no need to include the name of the programme. Here’s this year’s titles:
2021 The series famously started in Holland in 1999 before eventually becoming a hit in 70 countries around the world. Each country has put its own unique stamp on the series, which is easy to see when comparing our titles with this cheesy soap opera-like sequence from the United States:
2026 Aside from the occasional clips, I’ve never seen the first two series of Big Brother. I left Britain shortly before the first series started in 2000, and returned months after the end of the second series in 2001. It was like going back to a different country and the popular culture I was returning to seemed completely alien at the time. Even though it was December, quite some time after Brian Dowling had left the house as winner, it seemed that Big Brother was all anyone was talking about. I couldn’t fathom why contestants on a Channel Four show I’d never heard of were still appearing on newspaper front pages, being given TV presenting jobs and being impersonated by comedians. It didn’t add up and based on the description of the programme, I really couldn’t see what the attraction would be for viewers. My curiosity was aroused, but with no celebrity series that winter, I would have to wait until the summer of 2002 to get my first taste of Big Brother…
2031 From the very first night I was absolutely hooked. Big Brother 3 was the most fun the show has ever been. The housemates were almost universally nice back then, but still all entertaining. Adele, a housemate who would barely raise an eyebrow in the house these days, became the first to ever be booed on their eviction, something that was genuinely quite a big thing at the time, whereas in recent years it has been the norm to be booed when entering the house. There was, of course, Jade, whose non sequiturs and childlike naivety at first made her disliked by a public which was eventually won over. But there was also a whole other collection of housemates it was quite nice to tune into and be in the company of, such as laddette Kate, all-round nice guy Spencer and clean-freak Alex. Memorable moments included Sandy’s escape from the house, the house being divided into “rich” and “poor” halves, a game called “follow the van” and, of course, this:
2035 At this point, Big Brother was bigger than ever before, so to prevent the show from getting too over-the-top, producers decided to go back to the roots of the first series and go “back to basics”, casting a group of housemates who would all get along. Sadly, despite the inclusion of the geeky Jon Tickle, most of the housemates were incredibly dull. There was one housemate who looked like she would shake things up and cause a bit of drama in the house – Anushka – but the public had also bought into the idea of getting rid of anyone with a hint of personality, and she was given the boot in the very first week. The only other potential troublemaker, Federico, was also gone before long, and we were left with the a bunch of people just sitting around a lot. Scottish virgin Cameron ending up winning, presumably because most people had fallen asleep before they could pick up the phone for anyone else.
2040 Everything changed for the sensational Big Brother 5. Branded “Big Brother gets evil”, the house was designed to be irritating, the housemates were selected to get on each other’s nerves and the tasks were less about team-bonding and more in the nasty style of I’m a Celebrity…‘s trials. The focus in the first week was Kitten, who was determined to break every rule in the house. Her housemates memorably rallied round her when she refused to leave when being told of her eviction for rulebreaking, before being less supportive as soon as they were told they’d lose prize money for every minute she stayed. The house was very quickly divided with tensions dramatically coming to a head following the infamous bedsit, when Michelle and Emma thought they were being evicted but the public had actually voted for them to go into a separate room where they could watch everything that was happening in the house and hear what everyone was saying. When they returned, tempers flared, with security guards being called into the house to separate Emma from Victor “the Milkman” Ebuwa, one of the self-named Jungle Cats. Despite things clearly going too far at that point, overall the tension made the series the most entertaining and fascinating of all. And it had a happy ending, with chain-smoking Portuguese transexual Nadia overcoming the initial public prejudice to be crowned winner in scenes that are still a joy to watch.
2043 Big Brother 6 was a curious one. 2005’s series struggled to live up to the previous year, but my word, it had some characters. It’s hard to forget Makosi, Derek and, of course, Craig, who followed eventual winner Anthony everywhere he went. Anthony provided possibly my favourite Diary Room moment, when he was asked to name a famous horse and earnestly replied “Sandy from Dogtanian and the Three Muskerhounds”. Oh, and then there was Kinga and the wine bottle. Ahem.
2047 Big Brother 7 seemed to go on forever and had a cast of thousands. Every week it seemed that someone new was turning up. It began with Susie Verrico being picked from a “golden ticket” draw. There were a few good housemates that year, including Aisleyne, but it’ll probably be mostly remembered for the obnoxious, bratty Nikki. The decision to return her to the house despite being already voted out by the public felt like a turning point. Since then, the series has been in a sharp decline.
2052 Since then, the series has waned in popularity and, aside from the explosive international incident that was the Shilpa Shetty row of 2008’s Celebrity Big Brother, the ratings have steadily declined and for many viewers of the show, for whom Big Brother was once the unavoidable topic of conversation at school or in the workplace, it soon became easy to forget that it was on at all. I was one of those viewers, who barely kept up with series eight, but watched just enough to know that Brian Belo was the winner and recognise Chanelle, Ziggy, Charley and the twins, but couldn’t even name the winners of series nine and ten, which both passed by with barely a whimper. The later years of Big Brother was marked with a distinct lack of the invention and creativity of the earlier years, with housemates all being cast in identikit roles (the grumpy old one, the gay one, the “different” one, the several China White-going promo girl ones..), tasks becoming predictable and twists less shocking. The final of last year’s Big Brother (which was won by… let me just check Wikipedia… Sophie Reade, apparently…) was watched by an average of just 2.6 million viewers, compared to the ten million who watched Kate win in 2002. Just before that tenth series, it was announced that this, the eleventh, would be the last. I think like many others who used to regularly watch, I’m coming back to Big Brother for old times’ sake. At it’s worst, it’s lived up to all of the criticism that’s been aimed at it over the years, but at it’s best, it’s been some of the most fascinating, electrifying live television ever produced. I’d prefer to remember it for the good rather than the bad, so I’m hopeful that this final series will recapture what made Big Brother so unmissable.
2055 Five minutes to go… There’s a definite carnival theme tonight. Not just with the creepy title sequence and the carosel in the garder, but also the front of the house has been decorated in fairground style.
2103 The show starts with a nostalgic look back on the last ten years before Davina introduces us to the 80 hopefuls. They all get booed straight away.
2108 Davina’s doing her traditional walk into the house, but this time the big screen has to be turned off outside, so the potential housemates can’t see inside. The diary room chair, fitting with this being the final series, has angel wings.
2114 The first housemate is selected. It’s Josie from Bristol, a country girl who appears to be very excited…
2117 Next in is Steve, a one-eyed ex-solider with prosthetic legs. He’s wearing a black false eye, which makes him appear a little like John Locke. A little. Anyway, an interesting choice!
2126 As Davina has pointed out, the housemates have spent a few days together so already know each other, leading to a slightly different vibe to previous series. The next housemate is chosen, it’s Ben, who is booed straight away, purely based on how he looks. Fortunately his video shows that he probably deserves it…
Josie Exclusive! ‘Oiz wish oid nevurh dun im in the BB jacuzzi!’ #Writingthe magazineeightweeksinadvance
@DelaneyMan on Twitter
2131 Beyonce lookalike Rachel is next in. She’s definitely one of the housemates who, erm, stood out when the images of the 80 hopefuls were first released. Following in the footsteps of most of the more attractive people to enter the Big Brother house, she’s instantly annoying.
2134 Nathan is the next housemate, a bit of a lad with Noel Gallagher’s eyebrows. Seems quite down to earth and funny, already a potential winner. I’m not sure I’m keen on the fact that they all know each other already, it’s all getting a little bit too chummy in the house at the moment. I’m sure it won’t last, though.
2143 The crowd are chanting for Mr. T, but next in the house is Dave, who is dressed as a monk or something. Oh, and it’s not fancy dress – he’s a Christian minister who celebrates God by getting very drunk, apparently. Right. He’s laughing, a lot…
2146 Next, it’s Irish Caoimhe (pronounced Keeva). She’s a bit of a scenester.
Why are they Booing a monk?
@nickjfrost on Twitter
2149 Govan is a smiley chap. I think he’ll do well. In the house, Josie is still jumping around and screaming.
@danielmaier on Twitter
2156 I’m busy battling some major techincal issues here. Anyway, 8 down, 5 to go and next in the house is Shabby who seems to think she’s Pete from Big Bro 7. A hyperactive squatter and an artist and a bit annoying.
I squaaaaart some of the big houses in Mayfair! (until I inherit them) #twunt
@gracedent on Twitter
2200 Ife is next up. A wannabe singer and successful dancer, she’s might seem like the typical BB housemate, but there seems to be a little more to her. We’ll see.
2205 Aussie John James is next to go into the house, and he’s basically just that. An Aussie. Seems to be a walking stereotype for his countrymen, but I suppose we’ll find out more soon enough.
2208 Big Brother’s always liked it’s odd names, hasn’t it? Sunshine is a medical student and is getting lots of boos for the terrible sin of posing for the cameras. She nearly falls down the stairs. Beyonce is giving this look to every girl who enters the house:
2211 Corin is a Scouser who somehow manages to have a face quite similar to Jordan’s, but somehow slightly worse. Her dress is nearly falling off. Davina’s mic is accidentally left open during the VT and we get to hear her asking for tissues. Oh dear.
Oh no. Corin speaks as she finds. #bb11
@salihughes on Twitter
2213 So that’s our 13 housemates then. Shame that Mr. T and the little guy didn’t get in. This doesn’t seem to be the end of the twists for the evening, though…
2220 It’s Mario, who seems like quite a nice bloke. He’s being given a task…
2221 He’s given an “impossible task”. He’s going to be a mole in the house – something housemates have suspected every year but hasn’t happened until now. He’ll have to carry out “dastardly deeds” against the other housemates, if the majority of the other housemates think it’s him, he gets evicted. If they don’t, he stays. He can’t see the screen with his instructions! Davina will explain it to him during the break. He’s also got a costume to change into, and will have to go to the bathroom later to meet “an old friend”.
2229 Ah, so this is why they called it an impossible task. This is what he has to wear, and this is where he has to sleep…
2240 Not sure what to make of these housemates. There’s a few of the same old typical ones, but also quite a few with the potential to be quite entertaining. Ben and Shabby are the most irritating so far, why Govan looks like a potential winner.
2250 Since Russell Brand left, Big Brother’s Big Mouth makes me want to put my head in a bucket of porridge, so I won’t be watching that, even though TV’s Emma Kennedy is on tonight. Apologies for this live blog being a bit of shambles, everything from the laptop to my TV feed to the whole of Twitter decided to stop working tonight. Thanks for reading, anyway!