It hasn’t been cool to like Big Brother for a good few years now. Since Nikki, Pete, Aisleyne, Grace et al kept us glued back in 2006 the show has been gradually declining in media coverage, viewership and, arguably, general quality. In fact this year the drop in ratings was so severe that Channel 4 decided against renewing the show beyond next year’s eleventh season.
It’s a shame really, because, surprisingly, Big Brother 10 was one of the best series’ in the show’s history. Not because of dramatic twists or over-complicated tasks, but because of storylines that emerged between the housemates. The tangle of men won over by Irish magnet Noirin was fascinating, the level of rule-breaking was addictively infuriating, and the general concept of super-bitch Bea was just brilliant.
But what really made this series stand out was all the ‘small things’. One-off moments like Lisa and David going into Central London dressed as aliens, the hilarious drunken moments from the adorable Sophie, tantrum-prone Rodrigo “meeting the Queen”, Marcus’, um, “graveyard shift” being interrupted by his mischievous housemates… moments where, for the first time in years, it was actually credible to think of Big Brother as a “social experiment” rather than a heavily staged, ratings-driven television drama. Just leaving well-chosen idiots to get on with it, without too much interference from ratings-hungry producers, does make for good TV.
A special mention must also go to the revamped eviction shows, where Davina “So listen…” McCall was joined by two panellists, usually one celebrity viewer and one psychology expert. The views of the “celebrities” were quite hit-and-miss as the weeks went by, but the introduction of the ‘Clever Person’ to the panel was fascinating and provided a real insight into the behaviour the housemates displayed. Judy James, we salute you. But top marks also to Davina, a lady whose presenting style has often divided opinion, for being on remarkably good form throughout. You have to have a heart of stone to not wish her luck when Big Brother comes to an end.
This year the show received a minimal amount of press coverage, compared to extensive supplements and columns in past years, and that inevitably dented the show’s popularity. The media decided before the series even launched that it was going to flop, but the reality was that it was actually rather brilliant. Perhaps it was the simplicity of the tasks, perhaps it was the nostalgia of its tenth anniversary, or perhaps it was just the selection of well-chosen idiots. Whatever the reason, Big Brother 10 was a strong run, and hopefully BB11 – the last ever series, on Channel 4 at least – will be even better.