Where did Big Brother go wrong?

  • 8comments

It remains one of the longest running reality shows and has been broadcast in over 50 countries, but Big Brother has finally been evicted and no one really seems that bothered.

The buzz surrounding its British debut was everywhere; you couldn't turn on your TV, open a paper or visit the hairdressers without catching a mention of the show. Curiosity spread like wildfire, with some considering the social experiment aspect and others pondering which contestants will be the first to get physical on screen. It was arguably one of the most influential reality programmes of its time, but saw its ratings significantly drop before even reaching the half-way point of its decade-long run. So, where did Big Brother go wrong?

The opening series is undoubtedly one of the best, with its contestants genuinely unaware as to the success of the show -- not just entering for the fame. Think back to the first ever winner, a down-to-earth builder called Craig Phillips who went into the house to raise money, and awareness, for a sick friend.

The first lot of housemates were interesting to watch, and their response to their new temporary lifestyle unsurprising to the viewer. As the show progressed, however, things began to get more-and-more predictable and by series five the contestants were painstakingly aware that Big Brother could effortlessly lead them to fame. Ironically, it was earlier housemates who weren't just hankering for stardom that were most likely to get it.

Just under 70 per cent of the population tuned in at least once to catch the show's first series, but its third season in 2002 was the most watched of them all -- pulling in an average of 8 million viewers throughout its run. It was also during this series that the show's most successful export, the late Jade Goody, was born.

Goody rose straight to tabloid fame thanks to her appearance on Big Brother and later became a millionaire despite finishing fourth in the competition. Her crude mannerisms and laughable remarks made the show hilarious to watch, and her fellow housemates were interesting, rather than garishly over-the-top.

When Goody returned to star in the celebrity spin-off show five years later however, things quickly took a nose dive for both her and Channel 4's reputation. She was accused of racially bullying Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, and this led to the Big Brother's biggest British controversy, with more than forty thousand complaints made to regulatory board OfCom.

Many fans were disgusted by the show's handling of the event, and countless others had simply become bored of the same old, opinionated housemates -- resulting in a swift drop in ratings for Channel 4. This not only affected Big Brother but also its many spin-offs, which totals ten extra shows for the franchise.

The tenth, and current, series is the least watched so far and attracts an average of just 2 million viewers, but Channel 4 claims that has nothing to do with its decision to axe it. Big Brother was something of a gamble when it was brought to the UK from Holland in July 2000. We admit, the gamble paid off at first and still continues to rake in some revenue for the broadcaster, but its air of mystery has gone and its loss is barely mourned by the public. Here's a handful of what you guys, here at TV.com, have to say:

Lightningshire: "One series was enough! Why did they feel the need to stretch it out this long? "

Tonks89: "I stopped watching it around series 4"

PiscesChick93: "I don't want it to be axed"

Emmaels26: "I don't understand why anyone would want to go on it at all, the money is nowhere near worth the effort or humiliation!"

What do you think? Join the debate in the Big Brother forum.

Like TV.com on Facebook