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Big Brother: my best bits

Posted on 11 September 2010, 6:31

The last ever night of Channel 4’s Big Brother tonight… and the last chance for Davina to say to a losing contestant, ‘I’m coming to get you!’ It was always a curious catchphrase because Davina never did go into the House to get anyone.

I lost touch with Big Brother after BB9, the 2008 show which featured cringetastic scenes of Rex and Nicole arguing and then cuddling, which looped so many times it made you check your remote wasn’t playing up. But I was a devotee and evangelist for the show from the first series back in 2000. I just loved the window it gave onto lives, friendships, enmities, groups and relationships in ‘the bungalow of the damned’, as the Guardian’s Marina Hyde memorably called the House.

Walking in Waterloo earlier today I saw the Big Brother R-eye-P poster, which prompted me to tune in tonight. The show had all the spontaneity and life of a party that was so far past its best it just needed to be taken out the back and shot. I read recently that the natural life of a TV series is eight years – after that the audience just drops off.

But for old time’s sake, and in the tradition of departing contestants having their moment with Davina, here are my best bits from the Big Brother years…

Jade Goody (BB3, 2002) losing all her clothes in an early hours of the morning drinking game, curled up on the sofa like an oversized cherub, giggling uncontrollably. I watched this on the live show at about 1.30am and thought: when has it ever been possible to see television as funny and unaffected as this?

The relationship of Craig Coates and Anthony Hutton (BB6, 2005), which was a case of one who loves, and one who suffers to be loved.

Glyn Wise and Imogen Thomas (BB7, 2006) started having conversations in Welsh until Big Brother reprimanded Glyn for using code to talk secretly. Glyn protested that ‘Welsh is British’, and they were allowed to continue. The conversations were then broadcast with subtitles, which I thought gave the programmes a cultural layer that just hadn’t been seen on primetime TV before.

Charley Uchea (BB8, 2007), most colourful contestant of the year for me, told her fellow housemates that once she was out of the House she was going to write her autobiography: ‘I’m a good writer you know – I’ve got very good handwriting.’

Many Housemates turned their time in the Diary Room into compelling viewing as they bared their souls, discovered their true feelings, raged at their tormentors and wept hot tears. Three for me stood out from the rest: Derek Laud (BB6, 2005) for his cool bitchiness; Pete Bennett (BB7, 2006) for his Tourette’s tics which he turned into comedy; and Brian Belo (BB8, 2007) who had never heard of Shakespeare but just blurted out the truth whenever he spoke.

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It was clear from the start that Brian would probably win the ultimate accolade – though in the end he should be dubbed ‘Ultimate Survivor’.

It was clear from the affectionate tribute paid to Jade Goody (which brought Davina close to tears – not for the first time) that she would have been the obvious and deserved choice had she not succumbed to cancer.

Big Brother was a guilty pleasure for me and probably eight to ten years is the life-span of any franchise, as you say. Are we now about to see the demise of Strictly?

David Stuckey, Sun 12 Sep, 12:51

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