What we want from Big Brother 2018
Now, I’ll forgive you for forgetting, thanks to Love Island taking over the summer airwaves, but Big Brother 2018 is coming and we have been promised a big overhaul and a return to its social experiment roots to try to save the show from the axe.
Here I’ll take a few of my ideas for a great series to come which I’m convinced will drive up the ratings, along with making an exciting series for viewers to enjoy.
The most important point of all though. BE BIG BROTHER, DO NOT TRY AND COPY OTHER REALITY SHOWS, THAT IS WHERE BIG BROTHER FAILS.
-Misc Bits & Bobs
The Housemates – The make-or-break aspect of Big Brother
The housemates are fundamental to the success of the Big Brother, and so far in preparation for Big Brother 2018 the producers have undergone an extensive auditions process in order to find contestants for the series.
It’s a great thing to see, the official @BBAuditions Twitter account has been teasing this since Celebrity Big Brother ended in January and announced a few days ago that nationwide auditions had concluded.
So, what type of housemates do we need? It is simple. Big Brother is not a run of the mill reality TV show. Big Brother relies upon a mix of people from different backgrounds being placed together in a house cut off from the outside world for a number of weeks. For this to work you need interesting housemates.
Housemates that would be a mistake include:
- people desperate for fame who have been on TV formats already – viewers do not want people who have already had a minimal dose of reality TV fame in the house for the civilian version. Stop it.
- people who have minimal personality, and spend all their time in the gym to substitute that personality – Big Brother is not, and has never been about looks. This is not Love Island.
- too many people who are placed there by producers to target the “younger” viewer – Big Brother is about a broad audience, it is not a show for kids, other aspects of the show will appeal to younger viewers if done right.
- too many “young” housemates – Big Brother is about a mix, and too many shows make the mistake of only showing 18-26 years olds, when in my opinion 24-35 year olds would be a much better choice as they actually have a bit more confidence, but will still come across as young. (There should still be housemates across the whole age spectrum of course).
Whilst it is OK to have one, maybe a maximum of two housemates that fit the above bill, casting should be very careful about limiting the number of these people. They kill the brand.
Housemates that should be included are:
- people with an interesting background, especially if they strongly belief in something or have something to say (and then air it when it happens instead of blacklisting them like Maggie in the most recent series of Celebrity Big Brother)
- people who have interesting, controversial or inspiring (and GENUINE) ideologies that conflict with the housemates
- people who are genuinely funny and likeable
- the odd person who is wholly unlikable to the average joe
- a diverse mix of people, not just in race, age, gender or sexuality, but in opinions, backgrounds and looks – every housemate should feel individual from another on launch night
Make sure the VT’s in the launch show actually showcase who they are. January did a great job of showing both the good and bad in the housemates going in to the house which led to a positive reaction from the audience. Previous series focus too much on the negative and freak show aspect, which switches viewers off. Viewers need housemates to root for to become invested, not just hate.
Pre-Launch – Branding and Creating a Buzz
The Pre-Launch advertising campaign will be vital to this series of Big Brother.
It is important that the logo is striking, modern and not garish like last years eye. Keep it simple yet interesting. Some of the best branding civilian Big Brother has had for me personally is Big Brother 5, Big Brother 7, Big Brother 9, Big Brother 10, Big Brother 15: Power Trip and Big Brother 16.
Why? For me, they all reflected Big Brother. They were all modern, sleek and some even hinted at the house theme itself, which is always a plus. Big Brother appeals to a broader audience when the branding doesn’t look like a joke.
Special mention to Celebrity Big Brother 7: Hell Lies In Others, and Celebrity Big Brother 16: UK Vs USA for on-point branding too.
The advertising campaign MUST be extensive, the show needs a massive relaunch this year if it is to be saved and captivate viewers. So what can they do?
Follow the lead of the Big Brother 5 campaign, which relaunched it originally. As Marcus Bentley narrated and teased a darker series “A 10 week holiday.. Not this time..” – Stuff like that stays in viewers heads and gets them excited, and a return to a darker, stronger Big Brother is needed in my opinion.
Promote the social experiment side! Tease house and housemate secrets that will be uncovered, make it interesting, captivate the viewer.
Most importantly, Big Brother MUST bring back the 24/7 online Live Feed this series. It is the most important part of the show. See the Live Feed section below for more information as to why. The advertising campaign must include this – it will alert hundreds of thousands of viewers that switched off due to the tacky direction the show went in that it is returning to what made it the Big Daddy of reality TV. It WILL bring back viewers, and it’s important that it is fully advertised.
Channel 5 must dip in to their pockets this year too. I am adamant that one of the main reasons Love Island launches successfully every year is because of a huge advertising campaign across the ITV brand, with the biggest part being able to advertise extensively during the Britain’s Got Talent live shows week, advertising to viewers who are likely the target audience for Love Island.
The problem is, Channel 5 don’t have that. Channel 5 do not have any shows within their brand that they can advertise in to either hit the target audience or indeed the number of people they need to advertise to in order to make the show a success.
Therefore Channel 5 need to dip money in to their pockets and advertise during HUGE shows on ITV and Channel 4 that are likely to hit the target audience, and that will only work if the advertising campaign doesn’t come across as cheap, tacky and cheesy, an issue that Channel 5 tends to struggle with.
The House – Make it a character
One of the things that Channel 5 lost about Big Brother was making a big deal about the house. Yes, they do go to good efforts with decoration and for that I applaud them. However, back in the earlier days a much bigger deal would be made out of the house which ended up including the viewer and making the house more of a “character”. So what needs to be done?
- Change the layout. It might be expensive but viewers soon tire of seeing the same thing and it’s not exciting. Do something interesting with it, give it a USP! Channel 4 were good with that, doing things like having the living area in the garden in one series, having the dining area, fridge etc in the garden, or the oven in the bedroom. Little things like that make for an edge.
- Create a blueprint and upload it to the website for fans to enjoy. It’s a little thing, but stuff like that promotes the idea that it is OK for viewers to get involved in the little things about the show and gives people more to talk about, which can only ever be a good thing in promoting the show.
- Make it exciting! Have secret rooms that actually have a purpose. I really liked the party reward room in BB4 that only opened on Saturday nights for a winning team to enjoy, for example. Or the exciting hidden rooms in BB7 that even had secret tunnels to another area.
- Utilise the second house more, it makes little to no sense to me having built a second house in 2016 only for it to not be redecorated since, and just used as a task area, especially when there are two other task rooms in the main house already. Either redesign the second house and change the walls etc so it can be a huge task arena for genuinely huge set piece tasks like on other international versions. Or, combine it in to the main house and have a stretched, multi room house – this will give it even more space for secret rooms and will make the house design feel a lot more fresh.
- Add the “void” back between the house entrance and the main house. Housemates need to stop being able to hear the crowd or live show on eviction nights. It’s vital to the game.
- When a housemate is evicted, remove their bed, and if running two bedrooms, close one of them off when the numbers get low enough.
Choose a series format – and stick to it
Big Brother is a game show, and for a game to work, by sheer definition it needs set rules. On Channel 5 Big Brother has lost its game show edge in favour of producer manipulation and changing the rules to suit “entertainment”. Whilst that may sound good on paper, if you lose the game show element, you lose one of the main USP’s of Big Brother and has been shown, you also lose the bulk of viewers with an ounce of intelligence.
The show needs a set format that viewers will understand and be able to get involved with. It gives the show that extra layer that takes it from general trash reality show, to social experiment game show and that is what made Big Brother so exciting on Channel 4.
Here’s a few ideas that I would like the show to possibly adopt for Big Brother 2018:
Return to Big Brother as an authority figure – Recent series have shown Big Brother itself to be very lax, joking around with housemates and giving them far too easy a time.
It’s time to change that, it’s time to return to “evil” Big Brother. Three rule breaks and you’re out Big Brother.
Part of what made Big Brother so good was feeling like Big Brother was in control, even without direct manipulation of the events inside the house.
An emphasis on the prize fund – One of the things I really liked about Big Brother 5 was the weekly live task which directly impacted the prize fund. I like the idea of housemates having to work together to increase or decrease it and the psychological edge that then has on the housemates.
C5’s Big Brother tends to like to have a task a day, and one of my biggest issues is that there is rarely any reason for them or jeopardy. So, having one task a week dedicated to the prize fund would make the show more exciting.
There can even be a “twist” in one or two of these weeks where the housemates are all competing against each other in an endurance type task where the winner wins a small chunk of the prize fund. (Never too much of it, because the 1st place prize should always be the point of the show).
It’s also a great edge to have punishments that tie to the prize fund too. For big rule breaks, take money off the prize fund and see how much it impacts the house.
A change to the nominations format – Big Brother needs a fixed nominations format to make it more exciting for the viewer to be involved. Currently the rules regarding how many nominations it takes to be up for eviction are never announced and it is clear the producers decide, after nominations have taken place, how many housemates they want to be up based on who got how many votes, and who they want booted off the show.
Viewers can see through that and it completely takes away from the social experiment and game show aspect and needs to stop.
I would like nomination and eviction process to take place as follows:
- No eviction during the first week – The events of the first week will be based off the launch night twist, see below for more.
- “Vote to save” up until the end of Week 7 (based on a 12 week series, this keeps entertaining/villain characters in the house for long enough)
- “Vote to evict” until the final (based on a 12 week series, this gets rid of the more horrible housemates who shouldn’t make the final)
- This format prevents housemates coasting their way to the final whilst ensuring a rightful, popular housemate wins.
- During nominations, housemates now have 4 “points” to spread across two nominated housemates. So, they could give one nomination 1 point, and the other 3, or one 2 and the other 2 as well.
- During “Vote to save” weeks, the 5 or more housemates with the most nomination points will face a new “Save Task” (see below)
- During “Vote to evict” weeks, the 3 or more housemates with the most nomination points will face a new “Save Task” (see below)
New weekly “Save Task”
- The Save Task will take place on the same day nomination results are announced to the house (the day after nominations take place)
- A different task will be set each week, and will be geared towards a different skill each week to not be biased. For example, physical tasks one week, endurance another, mental/intelligence the next.
- The task going in to the house will be announced to the viewers BEFORE nominations take place for that week, to show that producers have not set it up for a housemate to fail and increase viewer trust, along with promoting an exciting upcoming task. This can be shown on the side show with Rylan.
- The nominated housemates will compete against each other in the Save Task – The winning housemate will be saved from eviction and can choose to either save themselves, or another nominated housemate.
- This means that four housemates will face eviction during vote to save weeks, and two housemates will face eviction during vote to evict weeks (unless more are nominated to start with)
Shopping tasks that mean something – For too long, the shopping tasks that were once so integral in to shaping the Big Brother week have become all a bit lacklustre, for so many reasons.
The shopping budget needs to actually be relevant. Too often housemates lose a task and are placed on a “budget” but still end up winning takeaways and getting parties most nights. This needs to stop. The shopping budget needs to be relevant, and sticking to that actually creates more possibilities for drama and side tasks during the rest of the week where they can win supplies they have run out of such as toilet paper or cigarettes etc.
Another way to compromise on Channel 5 seem to be wanting a daily task each day whilst having a big shopping task is to have the mini tasks during the week accumulate points. Those points will then give them an advantage in the big shopping task, or a disadvantage, meaning that every task matters, and that every task is relevant to the game and house life.
The tasks also need to become more relevant and the rules for each task need to be explained to housemates AND viewers before they happen, and Big Brother must make sure that viewers don’t feel conned. Very often I feel like Big Brother decides whether they have won or not before the task has even taken place. Big Brother needs to become stronger again, it’s far more entertaining to see.
Fixed days for events in the house – My Big Brother week would look like this:
- Thursdays (airing on Fridays) – Day 1 of two-day shopping task and fallout from eviction nights
- Fridays (airing on Saturdays) – Day 2 of two-day shopping task and shopping ordered/delivered for the next 7 days – Themed party thrown if task passed.
- Sundays (airing on Mondays) – Nominations
- Mondays (airing on Tuesdays) – The Save Task
- Public voting to open as soon as the Save Task has taken place, as it will be shown on the live feed and the results posted to social media and the website immediately
- Tuesdays (airing on Wednesdays) – The weekly Prize Fund task
- Wednesdays (airing on Thursdays) – Secret mission task and/or Task to win party or luxury supplies (which is fine as it is near the end of the shopping week)
- Thursdays – Live evictions (Fridays are dead now, and the show needs to make evictions the “must see” viewing of the week)
The week is structured so that the shopping task falls on what is likely to be the least watched episode from viewers, as they give extra incentive to watch and are likely to be more lighthearted and fun, ideal for Friday and Saturday night viewing.
The rest of the week is about the game play of the show, meaning that people who tend to watch Sunday-Thursday, which tends to be the biggest chunk of the audience, won’t miss anything important and will be more inclined to keep tuning in.
Every day has something to look out for, whether this is on the live feed or in the highlights show, and Big Brother can still throw in mini tasks, where required.
Launch Day – The chance to really hook viewers in
With an extensive advertising campaign complete, and the right amount of hype, people will tune in to see if Big Brother can make good on their promise, especially if live feed is in the equation. The live launch show is the biggest opportunity they will have to convert those viewers.
It’s really important that they make it less tacky than previous launches, but at the same time still exciting.
I hear people say they don’t want launch night twists, but I disagree with that. If done right, a launch night twist can be the hook that brings people back for the second episode. But for that to work it needs to be exciting, important and set the tone for the series.
Ear piece “comedy” tasks are outdated for the launch. Viewers need something with impact and something that matters. The light relief and comedy should come from the housemates interactions themselves, if they are chosen well, and the introduction VT’s.
Another mistake is going overboard on the launch night twist, such as with Power Trip where Helen Wood won a pass to the final. What’s the point?
So here is my idea for a basic yet effective launch night twist, partly themed around the shows 18th year on air:
- Upon entering the outside arena, the housemate will be presented with Emma. Emma will not interview the housemates anymore.
- Emma will instruct them to pick a random ball out of a hat.
- There will be 12 balls, one for each housemate.
- 3 balls that read “A”, 3 balls that read “B”, 3 balls that read “C”, and 3 balls that read “D”
- The housemate will then to be told that the selection they have made could impact their stay in the house heavily and told to enter the house.
- At the end of launch night and once housemates have entered, Emma will reveal to the audience that the letters correspond to a team they will compete in for a task will take place in the house that night.
- At this point, Emma will highlight the new Online Live Feed and push people to subscribe to see what happens in the task and purchase the series Live Feed pass to follow all the action as it happens.
- The teams will compete in a fun task and will be placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
- The top two teams will win immunity from the first eviction
- The winning team will also win a secret mission – they will gain access to the “second house” where four 18 year old housemates (to celebrate the shows 18th year on air) will be added in to the house (no live show) the next day.
- The winning 3 housemates will spend two days getting to know the new 18 year old housemates and will be told at the end they will need to decide TWO housemates to evict and TWO housemates to keep as full housemates.
- If the other housemates suspect something is going on, the winning team will have their immunity revoked and be automatically facing the first eviction
- The two evicted housemates will leave the house (no live show required), however at this point the two evicted housemates will be told although they are leaving the house, they will be going in to hiding (separately) with no contact with the outside world for two more days, as their Big Brother journey is not over.
- Two days later the “evicted” 18 year olds will also enter the house.
- The two returning housemates will not be eligible for the first eviction – However between them they will decide one housemate who will automatically face the public vote (they cannot pick immune housemates)
- This twist will ensure that new housemates are added to the house during the first week to keep viewers interested as stories build, and could also create friction between the team that evicted them, and the two returning housemates.
- This will then conclude the first week, leaving 16 housemates in the house.
It is imperative that the launch show pushed the live feed USP, to make sure that social media buzz is created and sustained through the series.
The feel of the launch must feel fresh too. Not only does a house tour need to happen, but during it Emma needs to tease the possibility of secret rooms, and push the idea that Big Brother will be really putting the housemates through their paces this series.
The introductory VT’s to the housemates must include a mix of positive and negative. It is very important that viewers feel connected to housemates and they can’t all seem like completely unrelateable aliens, but they must also be interesting. Don’t make the audience hate them all, because they just won’t come back for episode 2 or become invested in the housemates, and therefore, the show.
Live Feed – Big Brother’s Unique Selling Point
Live feed MUST return, 24/7, unedited and online with a real push for the quality. It is the selling point of Big Brother and quite simply is what made it a success.
With rumours circulating that Love Island is debating adding a live feed for their next series, now is the time for Big Brother to add it, before it is seen as just keeping up with Love Island and copying them, again.
My ideas for live feed:
- Place it online, behind a paywall. Users can opt for two packages, the “full pack” or the “base pack”.
- The base pack includes access to one camera stream only
- The full pack includes access to 2-4 camera streams that the user can choose between to make sure they don’t miss any house action
- The full pack also includes access to 30-60 minute vodcast Diary Room uncut episodes (Released Fridays) AND a full unedited diary room nominations package (Released Tuesdays)
- The full pack costs £24.99 for the full series, £4.99 for a week pass or £1.99 for a 24 hour pass
- The base pack costs £17.99 for the full series or £2.99 for a week pass. There is no 24 hour option
- For additional revenue, a pop up bar at the bottom can occasionally show adverts during the live streams from sponsors
- A constant ticker stream of tweets selected by Live Stream operators from the #BBUK hashtag will roll across the bottom, showing a diverse range of opinions on the housemates as they react to the live feed. (Promoting use of social media to advertise the show more and encourage more to buy the feed).
- Staff under strict instruction to keep scrolling feed on an equal balance showing positive and negative for all housemates as equally as possible
- Pop ups can also include Facebook or Instagram posts with images and GIFs.
- The scrolling feed will also update with a schedule of planned “events” on the feed (subject to change) in the house such as task times.
- Polls will also be shown in the pop ups for the feed, which viewers can vote on using the Big Brother App. Polls update every few hours, and this will in turn encourage viewers to download the App, increasing the interest for Sponsors.
- The live feed will also operate competitions (eg, caption competitions/quizzes etc) in order to continue to keep up the social media buzz, encourage viewers to use the hashtag and increase the awareness of live feed options to casual viewers, increasing possible revenue.
- Voting details will also appear on-screen to evict housemates, if applicable.
The following is an except from a previous post I wrote regarding Live Feed:
“Live feed is the essence of Big Brother, it is what makes Big Brother unique and stands apart from every other TV show out there. The whole concept of Big Brother is a social experiment, where viewers can dip in and out at any time to see what is happening. Live feed isn’t for everyone, but even the people most anti live feed cannot argue that if something big was kicking off in that house, they wouldn’t be rushing to the live feed to watch the drama unfold. Fresh, unpredictable and live.
Big Brother thrives on buzz, and the thing that has confused me more than ever is that as we reached the peak of the digital age with the burst of Twitter, online media and Facebook, that is when live feed has been taken away. Who on earth made that decision?? Surely this is the BEST time for live feed with the amount of buzz a huge live moment in the house could cause would be astronomical, directly increasing ratings on the highlights show for the next day, bringing in new long-term viewers, increasing ratings, increasing headlines, increasing EVERYTHING.
We are pretty much the only Big Brother across the world with no live feed. Other countries give live feed as a basic. Big Brother Canada gives multiple feeds for free on their website, whereas Big Brother US puts their extensive live feeds behind a pay wall.
Another argument that has been given for no live feed is the cost. Which, again, is absolute rubbish. The housemates are in the house 24 hours a day with a fully staffed gallery ever-present to produce the show. The studio complex even has their own in-house live feed which is not broadcasted. Therefore, where is the cost? Any additional costs for compliance purposes would be minimal at best.
Big Brother Live should not be broadcast on TV. I completely understand that times have changed and that there isn’t necessarily a great space for Big Brother Live on TV. Obviously, no one would EVER want to get in the way of the fabled SuperCasino, or stand in the way of the ratings powerhouse that is the 5 Star channel. However, Channel 5 could actually MAKE money from live feed by streaming it on their own website, and charging people to access the live feed with a series pass, much like Channel 4 did for their final series. (Although they would make a lot more money if they didn’t give away 1,000 passes for free like Channel 4 did).
On top of the buzz and additional revenue live feed would bring the show, it will also bring something even more valuable. Viewer trust.
Since moving to Channel 5 the show has been plagued with criticism that the show is covering up key moments in the house, such as housemates like Rylan being allowed out of the house to rehearse for the X Factor tour, or more recently Chloe being allowed out of the house to film for Geordie Shore. Combine that with other incidents that viewers and ex housemates claim Channel 5 have covered up, such as in series 12 Jay having a poo in the freezer in retaliation to co-housemates annoying him, or Helen from Big Brother 15 or Christopher Biggins apparently receiving warnings for incidents that never aired.
Live feed would give viewers a sense of trust back and would stop us feeling that Big Brother producers are against us, would stop us thinking that scenes are scripted or staged and give viewers a sense of control that the show tagline “Who goes, you decide” really does actually mean something still.”
Highlights Show Editing Style
Basic rules for the highlights shows:
- Show things as they happen, do not fast edit things with commercial music to promote it to younger viewers. It makes it lose its edge and seem tacky to the majority and you lose the whole point of what you’re watching, the actual content. This is especially important for during tasks.
- Show the day in chronological order, do not mix and match to suit a story agenda.
- Show all housemates equally, if one episode just happens to feature one or a group of housemates, ensure that the next episode features those not seen. Even if a housemate is being boring, show it! Chances are it will give people a laugh seeing how boring a housemate is. It should never be an excuse that they “aren’t doing enough to get on the edit”. They were all placed on the show for a reason, so show them.
- Don’t be afraid to show additional highlights from the day on the spin-off shows to make up for housemates lesser seen or bits that there wasn’t enough time for. That’s what the spin off of Big Brother should be for! Extra content!
Misc Bits and Bobs
- Have a real mix of tasks. Do not have manipulation tasks, have fun tasks, physical tasks, mental tasks, endurance tasks. Mix them up so it feels fresh.
- Reduce the number of twists, the series format should be enough to sustain viewer attention. But if there is to be a twist, it is important that it is fully explained to viewers or posted online BEFORE it begins, to increase viewer trust and lessen the chance of being accused of producer manipulation. It is a game, let it play out.
- Post the full voting percentages for every eviction AFTER the series completes
- Ensure housemates are completely cut off from the outside world, do not let them hear the crowd. Emma must talk to the house from the silent studio.
- Do not over utilise alcohol or parties. Viewers get bored with watching a wannabe Geordie Shore drunkathon every night. If a good shopping task is happening there is no need to get them drunk as well, you have the content already.
- Another idea to celebrate the 18th year – Midway through the series introduce 6 x 18 year old housemates, and have a “mini series” featuring them for 18 days exactly. With one or two evictions during those 18 days, and the “winner” not only winning £18,000, but also eligibility to stay in the house and continue the game and be eligible to win the main prize.
- NO. OUTSIDE. CONTACT.
- NO. RETURNING. HOUSEMATES.
- NO. FRIENDS. AND. FAMILY.
- BIG BROTHER – NOT ANY OTHER REALITY SHOW.
As always, there is so much more I could talk about – the spin off show for example! But I feel I’ve written enough, for this time anyway.. What would you want from Big Brother 2018? Sound off in the comments below!
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Posted on June 7, 2018, in Big Brother, Media, Personal Rant, Reviews, TV and tagged BBUK, Big Brother, big brother 2018, Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 5, Emma Willis, Endemol, love island, rylan clarke-neal. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.