I’ll tell you what you want, what you really, really want.
You don’t know what you want. Neither do I.
Whatever it is that we don’t know that we want – what I do know about it is that whatever it is, we want it all and we want it now.
There are some people who believe that the best possible way to entertain themselves on a cold, drizzly, winter’s evening, is to leg it to a rather grim industrial estate, just off a roundabout on the outskirts of Borehamwood, and yell “GET PEREZ OUT!” into the dark, dark sky over Elstree Studios.
I remember being drawn in to the first series of Big Brother, in the UK in 2000, because I was intrigued by the notion of the social experiment. I read high brow think pieces in broadsheet newspapers about the thought-provoking nature of the programme and how we might come to learn more about human nature and our interactions.
Within a few days we were all yelling “GET NICK OUT!” at our screens, and any concept of discerning analysis of the human condition was lost.
So in 2015, and with (yet) another season of Celebrity Big Brother grinding its way to a conclusion tonight, the easiest route to take is one of disdain and scorn, both for viewers, and those hardy people, screeching at Perez Hilton, as the relentless rainfall drenches the borough of Hertsmere in Hertfordshire. If Big Brother is any guide, it’s always raining in Hertfordshire – and if, by some miracle it isn’t raining, then it’s snowing.
Yet this season of Celebrity Big Brother has been compelling viewing, and, if anything, has taken us back to the narrative of the original concept of musing upon human behaviour and synergy.
These days, just about everyone on the Big Brother catwalk rocks up with full knowledge of the process having viewed at least the highlights of previous seasons, if not the full drama. The celebrity contenders are even more knowing. Used to the cameras, they swiftly believe that they can manipulate the process to the benefit of their careers and bank balance.
And yet… despite knowing all there is to know, within hours ‘housemates’ are forming alliances, gaining enemies, gossiping, and plotting. They have seen every other housemate behave in this way, in previous years, have noted the awfulness of it all, but they still fall right into this curious pattern of behaviour.
“We don’t like the idea of Channel 5.”
Big Brother contestants tend to fall into one of three categories:
The BIG personalities – determined to lead and to influence (key example – Katie Hopkins).
The neutral housemates – they walk away from conflict and seek to hide in order to avoid being nominated for eviction (key example – Keith Chegwin).
The psychologically challenged contenders – viewers worry for these competitors’ sanity, but also turn the volume up, and put their smartphones down, when these housemates get camera time (key example – Perez Hilton).
We don’t like the idea of Channel 5. We have seen bullying, racism, homophobia, and misogyny (the full set!) on this season of Celebrity Big Brother but it is true to say that CBB 2015 has been potent and compelling viewing.
So we don’t like the channel; the show; the contestants; the shouty rain-swept people in the crowd; the tedious product placements; the dreary Gumtree sponsorship; the repetitive commercials for oak furniture; but there will be a hole in the viewing schedule now the show has run to its dogged conclusion tonight.
Rona Fairhead, the relatively new, low profile head of the BBC Trust, popped up at the British Museum on Tuesday to deliver a speech to the Royal Television Society. It was everything you would have expected; full of key words like ‘challenges’, ‘trust’, and ‘competition’.
“I believe passionately in the BBC,” she said, which is handy.
However, speaking to journalists after delivering this homily, Ms Fairhead said that an outside bid to buy BBC3 “would be considered as part of the trust’s consultation into the corporation’s future.”
Eh? We thought the game was up for BBC3, didn’t we? All that ballyhoo, and all that business about it being an online platform only…
Now suddenly, Jimmy Mulville, my olde producer from Weekending days, wants to throw a hundred million pounds at the BBC to take the channel on.
This is what we do, and this is what we want; though we really, really don’t know what we want.
Nobody used to listen to 6Music – oh you did, did you? Well you were on your own.
Then it was scheduled for closure and suddenly this rather obscure BBC radio station became a national treasure. The Guardian became full to heaving with photos of Liz Kershaw, in her vibrant red coat, loudhailer in hand, leading the protests in Portland Place.
Save 6Music! And so it came to pass.
Now 6Music is pulling in over two million listeners each week according to the latest RAJAR figures.
We didn’t want it and now we do.
Nobody was watching BBC3; all of the programmes were hideous yoof, Ayia Napa, screechy, turn-offs.
We didn’t want it and now it’s worth a hundred million quid.
Big Brother was a spent force on Channel Four. Davina had endured enough and moved on to the safe haven of reuniting families; Dermot found his niche on the X-Factor, and we all know only too well how Russell Brand has progressed from genitalia based jokes on Big Brother’s Big Mouth to become leader of the free world.
As Katie Price tottered along the catwalk as the winner of the current celebrity edition, it occurred to me that we didn’t want Big Brother any more and then we did.
We never know what we want, but we want it now.
Terence Dackombe – February 2015