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Can Big Brother be saved?

Short answer, no I don’t think so.

Long answer, well I’m glad you asked! Big Brother has been a staple on British television for 18 years, however since being axed by Channel 4 in 2010 due to “creative renewal” by the channel, Big Brother has lost its edge, its purpose and subsequently, viewers.

Channel 4 axing Big Brother in 2010 has to be up there with one of the worst broadcasting decisions the Channel has ever made. Their ratings dipped year on year after losing Big Brother, along with the highly coveted audience share with 16-24 year olds.

Channel 5 on the other hand essentially had their channel saved. Despite hemorrhaging viewers quickly in their very first series due to a variety of production decisions, Big Brother continued to outperform almost every single show on the channel, bringing in younger viewers in a way that Channel 5 had never before seen.

Since losing a load of viewers in 2011, viewership remained somewhat stable on Channel 5 until around 2015. Since then, ratings year on year have dropped at an alarming rate, to the point where Channel 5 are said to be considering axing the show completely unless show creators Endemol significantly reduce the price tag of the show.

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Ben Frow, the man who says he wants Big Brother off his own Channel.

Channel 5’s head of programming Ben Frow has openly and repeatedly remarked that he would rather not have Big Brother on the channel, and would rather have original programming, whilst purchasing the rights to old shows like Blind Date and others. Could his comments purely have been a negotiation tactic? Because his words and his actions definitely do not add up.

Despite falling ratings, Big Brother continues to be Channel 5’s biggest show, it holds fairly steady viewers for an incredible number of episodes per year and replacing Big Brother would end up being a risky move, with approximately 200 hours of prime time television a year needing to be replaced. Ratings for which could be worse than Big Brother, would likely not bring in the “youth” market and could be the downfall of Channel 5.

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Many see this years Big Brother as a “make or break” to whether Channel 5 will renew the show or axe it. I would love to be optimistic but for me personally, the “make or break” time was a couple of years ago when the show still had a steady viewership of loyal viewers, many of whom were watching since the Channel 4 era longing for the show to return to its former glory.

I have written extensive posts in to HOW Big Brother can be saved, so I’m not going to go in to that here, in fact here are two posts for your enjoyment:

Post 1 – How to Save Big Brother UK Before it’s too late

Post 2 – Why Celebrity Big Brother’s Changes in 2018 weren’t enough

This year there is a lot of buzz amongst fans and people in the know that the producers of Big Brother are said to be going “back to basics” and people are getting excited thinking that means that we are going to get a “proper” Big Brother similar to the Channel 4 era.

I am very apprehensive about this however. Whilst I agree it would be absolutely incredible to get a proper series of the show for the first time since Channel 4 axed the show, I just can’t see the producers of Big Brother “getting” it, even if they try.

Throughout the run on Channel 5 it has become apparent to me that the production, or possibly the people at Channel 5, simply haven’t got a clue what makes Big Brother the success it once was. Too many times they’ve tried to copy lesser structured reality shows and become similar to what is “current” which sounds great on paper, but this had less to falling viewers not just for Big Brother, but for other shows that have tried to appeal to a younger, or should I say, DUMBER, audience, like The X Factor. Whereas shows that remain true to what made them a success such as Strictly or Bake Off continue to bring in very strong viewers.

Too many times on Channel 5 I’ve felt insulted as a viewer, it’s clear on so many occasions that they’re appealing to the lowest common denominator that it’s been infuriating.

Big Brother has never been high brow, nor should it be in terms of content, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the editing style, treating the viewers as passive idiots who can’t think for themselves, covering up of events inside the house with no justified reasoning, and twists that are quite clearly either thought of last-minute as “oh we need to do something during the eviction tonight” or manipulated situations designed to keep certain housemates in and get others out, leading to an unfair game.

Because that is a big part of what Big Brother is, a game. A game needs fair, clear rules and the producers should not be able to affect it. Sure, chuck a twist in, but announce it before anything happens first.

For example, if it’s a nominations twist it NEEDS to be announced BEFORE nominations take place and producers know who is facing it. Producers NEED to clarify what the rules for nominations are in terms of how many housemates are placed up for eviction BEFORE nominations take place. Otherwise viewers see through it, get turned off and switch off. Plus even if Big Brother ISN’T manipulating things in producers eyes, they need to wake up and realise that behaving the way they are, in terms of releasing little to no information, is making viewers BELIEVE that producers are controlling who stays and who goes, which is leading to people switching off.

I’ve been saying this since the day Big Brother went to Channel 5 – Yes, there are a lot of morons out there who only care about arguments and romance in the house, but for every 1 of those, there are 5, 10, 30 others in this country that do have a brain, and want to be entertained without feeling insulted.

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X Factor arguably started becoming a joke when Lucie Jones was axed in favour of Jedward in a deadlock situation

It’s exactly why X Factor ratings began to dip, viewers say the producer manipulation each week and the way the show became a parody of itself and switched off. Manipulating a show to get the scenes you want will only ever result in people switching off, even if it gets a boost in the short-term when people switch on for the controversy.

I have no idea if Big Brother will go “back to basics” – I don’t even know what that entails – because the show has evolved and there was a reason the show underwent a big change between series 4 and 5 – too basic and the show is in danger of being dull – not enough and it has all the problems Channel 5 have given it. They need to strike a good balance, and after years of disappointment I do not have faith in the current production team to deliver the right product.

There is a chance that Big Brother CAN hit the mark this year though. Signals so far are looking good. A proper audition process has taken place, rumours abound that they are looking for people who haven’t been on TV before and could even be looking to return to a true social experiment. They’ve brought back a producer from the original era of the show to try to turn it around and that’s another massive tick in the box.

They even seem to have made the genius decision to move the start date of the show out of its usual late May/early June slot to not clash with Love Island or the World Cup, which historically damages the ratings every 4 years.

Here is the most important part though. Even if Channel 5 somehow manage to deliver the Big Brother that makes the show unique (yes, live feed is a REQUIREMENT of that, see my other articles for why) I just no longer believe the Channel has the pulling power to bring back 8 years of alienated viewers anymore.

The time for change was years ago, when fans were screaming out for it. Not now that the show has lost a substantial percentage of its viewership and the wider public knows that this may be its final series.

Channel 5 – Do the right thing – If you’re going to axe it, axe it, and send Big Brother off with the bang it deserves. But you won’t do that, you’ll eek it out until its dying breath as you have done, and let it die without any goodbye to its legions of fans built up over 18 years. Give Endemol the chance to ship it to other Channels.

And THAT Channel 5, is why you are, and will always be, viewed as the worst, most tacky channel on British TV.

Yeah, worse than Babestation.


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I’m always keen to hear your thoughts too, so feel free to post away below!

R.I.P? That’s something I discussed in my last article, take a look!

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Posted on May 22, 2018, in Big Brother, Media, Personal Rant and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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