Confessions of a Big Brother Superfan
My name is Lewis ‘LJAY815’ Griffiths, and I am a Big Brotherholic.
Since the age of 10, I have spent the last 18 years gleefully obsessing over the most exciting and authentic reality TV show that has ever graced our planet. Some would say that’s a bit sad. No.. MOST would say that’s a bit sad… But hey, that’s been me!
During the 2000 to the late naughties era, I felt like I was the only one. Sometimes dropping in to the Digital Spy Big Brother forums to see that there were others out there who analysed the show in every little detail, and lived and breathed the live feed. But it wasn’t until Twitter came in to existence that I really got to see that I wasn’t alone.
There are loads of us! All with wildly different opinions on the housemates and the show itself, and I LOVE it.
Although I watched since Day 1, my earliest real solid memory is Caroline’s eviction. I was in Brighton at the time, having a “sort of” holiday. We were on the pier and I really wanted to ride one of the roller-coasters. My mum said to me I had to make a choice, the roller-coaster, or being able to stay up and watch the Big Brother eviction that night.
Being 10 and not being able to think more than the next hour ahead, I chose the roller-coaster, oops! But little did they know that I stayed awake at the top of the stairs just so I could hear what was happening! Caroline and her very, um, unique laugh, waltzed out of the house that night – and I guess it was at that point I knew Big Brother would be something I’d love for a long time.
Since then, I have watched every single episode of Big Brother, except for the last week or two of the Celebrity Big Brother series that Julian Clary won – because even though I loved him as a housemate, the show felt so stale that series to me due to Channel 5’s treatment of the show. The next series they injected a bit more life in to it, and although there continues to be massive issues, I haven’t got to the point of “switching off” since.
Even at the age of 10, Big Brother excited me a lot. I remember vividly the day that Nick was ejected from the show. “You live by the sword you die by the sword” – I remember the media frenzy that surrounded it, with tabloids sending planes over the house to try to alert the housemates to Nick’s lies.
Big Brother was a phenomenon, and if you’re too young to remember and you think that the amount of coverage that Love Island is getting now is in any way similar – think again.
I remember being on holiday, with bars across Majorca showing Big Brother every night due to the crowds it would attract. Nobody wanted to miss a moment.
The Final of Big Brother 1 was huge, over 10 million people watched it – the anticipation of who would take the crown was intense. Nobody knew who would win it. But everybody had one thing in common, you wanted Craig or Anna to win it. (Except for the odd Darren fans, but there are irregularities to everything in life..)
I was an Anna fan. I genuinely can’t remember why. I was too young. But I remember telling everyone that I was. The fact that the final vote was Craig winning with 51% vs Anna with 49% should tell you everything you need to know.
Over the years and as I got older I got more “in to” the show. Me and my friends would play pretend ‘Big Brother’ games (I always got evicted early, such is life), we’d play The Sims together and make Big Brother houses and then put ourselves in as housemates.
The Sims would be left to their own devices then every week we’d make them “nominate” by picking the two housemates they had the worst relationship score with in the house. Then we’d choose who to evict with a vote amongst the real life counterparts. It was savage, but it was brilliant.
Over those years I brought (or rather, were brought for me) the Big Brother book(s), DVD’s, I had recordings of episodes I never wanted to lose and my knowledge of Big Brother was second to none!
I can remember what I was doing and where I was during every Big Brother launch and finale. My favourite memories being during Big Brother 5. I watched that launch at a sleepover and it was the first time they were putting in more, shall we say, “interesting” housemates. The reaction was brilliant!
Then finale night when Nadia won was spent in a bar on holiday again, and again the atmosphere was brilliant, the bar was packed and everyone was watching!
The best memories I have from Big Brother all come from probably the most mundane parts of it. During Big Brother 3, I remember waking up each morning and without fail, before going to school, watching Sandy run around the pool over and over in circles getting his morning exercise whilst I was eating my cornflakes. No dialogue, no other housemates. Just that, every morning.
I loved the nightly live feed and the games they would have scrolling along the bottom. Most of the time I wouldn’t even be watching it directly, I’d probably be playing a game or doing something else, but I always loved having live feed on in the background.
I’ve lived and breathed Big Brother each year. During Big Brother 9 I called in to the short-lived ‘Big Brother’s Big Ears’ internet radio show hosted by Iain Lee and Gemma Cairney. I remember Brian Belo being a special gust on the first episode of it and he was living every Big Brother geeks dream. Having just won the show, then being back as part of the team. He heard a remixed version of the BB theme tune and was like “oh my god I love that!” and so did I, the BB theme tune is LEGENDARY.
On that show they asked people to call in, and randomly paired each caller with a housemate that they would champion throughout the series, to keep calling in over the course of the series. Obviously it was just my luck that I got a spot, and got paired with Stephanie.. The first to be evicted! Gutting.
I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news that Big Brother was ending (at least, on Channel 4). It was during the penultimate series, Big Brother 10. I was working a fair distance from home and I had just finished work and had arrived at my bus stop waiting to go home. I flicked open my phone, and just as I did it started to rain. The first thing that greeted me? “BREAKING NEWS: BIG BROTHER AXED AFTER A DECADE”.
My heart sank. There were rumours it was coming for a while but I didn’t believe it. The live feed had been axed that series and that was a bit of a warning sign. But even then, Big Brother felt too big to be axed (and it was, Channel 4 made a dreadful decision). I felt horrible, the heavens opened even harder and it was drenching me. I felt cold and messaged a few friends, not that any of them really cared, nobody I know really likes BB on my level.
The worst part was, it felt like Channel 4 put so much effort in to making the final Celebrity series and the final Civilian series that followed even better, making the end even more crushing.
Although I hate Channel 4 for axing the show, and always will, the way in which they dealt with it I will always thank them for. Not only did they announce it far in advance (lets see if Channel 5 will even mention it before the series finishes..) – but they gave us two special series, and even returned full 24/7 live feed for the final series and gave 1000 lucky fans free passes if they were the first to sign up. On top of that, they put so much effort in to the theming and tasks of both. It was an amazing year.
It built up to a legendary finale night, where Big Brother completely took over Channel 4 for over 5 hours I swear. Starting with an extended Big Brother’s Little Brother, the first part of the final, a special episode afterwards with Dermot and former housemates talking about the show, followed by the ‘Final Hour’.
‘Little Brother’ hadn’t even ended and it already had me in tears. I went downstairs during a break and spoke to my mum and (quite hilariously now looking back) we both looked at each other and burst in to tears. Such is the power of a show that had been such a big part of my life, and I’d say that for a lot of casual fans too. 10 years that show had aired, and unlike most shows it was on every single night for a prolonged period of time. It gets inside your head.
The intro to the ‘Final Hour’ will forever play in my head. Davina walking out of a black car, dressed in funeral garb, the audience in complete silence whilst a band played a heart wrenching version of the Big Brother theme. Then Davina giving her eulogy to Big Brother.. “…and so he leaves me, his bereft Big Mother… But in the end, he was OUR.. BIG BROTHER! … THIS IS HIS FINAL HOUR!” – Turning the black funeral in to a colourful celebration of the show. But even in the celebration, you could see in Davina’s eyes how difficult she was finding it to cope with the end of what was a huge part of her life too.
(I was going to insert a clip here of the introduction to the Final Hour. But hey, it’s been blocked by CHANNEL F*CKING 5. Eugh).
When the show ended, and Brian was crowned the winner, and the production team surprised Davina with her very own “best bits”… Big Brother ended by saying “Big Brother will get back to you”.
Flash forward to Channel 5’s tenure, and to be honest, even now, I’m still waiting for THAT Big Brother to get back to us. Because in my heart it never really has.
My biggest regret is that I never went to a live show during the Channel 4 and Davina era. I really missed out.
So I got tickets for the Big Brother launch on Channel 5. Read about what happened here! Long story short, we didn’t get in.. But we did rush home very quickly to make sure we watched it!
And eugh, what a horrible launch it was. Whilst it was great to have it back, it felt tacky as hell. It didn’t feel like Big Brother to me. It just felt tacky. It felt Channel 5, and whilst I’m sure that Channel 5 will be pleased to hear it felt “on brand” for them, they don’t quite get that their brand is tacky af.
You can ask me anything about the Channel 4 era, I’ll remember, I’ll know. Somehow every little moment is etched in to my mind. But with the Channel 5 era, it all becomes hazy. I don’t know why.
Despite still loving the show, the format etc, I’ve just never been able to enjoy it on a level that I used to. Sure, I have the odd moment, but for anyone who follows me on Twitter, you’ll know how frustrated I have been with the show since Channel 5 took over.
It’s not just the lack of live feed, the continued diminishing of any recognisable format or the utter disregard for the viewers. It’s just the whole tone of the show. It changed. It’s been pure tacky, and try as they might, I don’t think they will ever be able to return that “vibe” to the show as long as Channel 5 hold the keys.
But, a new series is just around the corner. Probably the last series.. Lets take it for what it is. I’ll do my best to enjoy it all, but even if they put together a great series, it will never have that feeling again.
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Posted on August 8, 2018, in Big Brother, Media, Personal Rant and tagged BBUK, Big Brother, CBB, Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 4, Channel 5, davina mccall, endemolshine, iain lee. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.