Wednesday, 30 January 2008


Big Brother: Celebrity Hi-Jack was a twist on the world famous Big Brother format, launched in the UK in 2008 in a bid to distance the show from the Celebrity Big Brother series which preceded it, which had proven to be too racism based for the British public to bear. Its aim was to avoid controversy and it achieved this partly by not listening to any bookers who suggested putting Nick Griffin, David Irving or Jim Bowen into the presenters chair, partly by having ‘Knowing all the words to Ebony and Ivory“ as a fundamental part of the contestant selection process, but mainly by only broadcasting the series on E4, thus ensuring that if any offensive material was broadcast it would either go entirely unnoticed or that anyone who did happen to catch it would be more irate about the fact that the channel wasn’t broadcasting a Friends episode for the umpteenth time that week, which is the station’s raison d’etre after all.

The show, while breaking new ground in the format in some ways - allowing news about the outside world and the public’s perceptions of housemates into the house, letting someone other than the housemates choose who would be up for nomination, having contestants who didn’t make you want to remove your own teeth with pliers, etc - it still stuck firmly to the traditional principles of the series, with tasks, diary room and evictions all present and correct. It even returned to the glory days of Chantelle pretending to be a celebrity by allowing two completely unknown members of the public, who went by the unlikely name of Peaches Geldof and her mate, but it’s nice to see people who are even less famous than the housemates themselves getting to have a shot at playing at being celebrities. Other twists included both surprise and double evictions, even those these are now so much a staple of reality TV that the only way they can be seen as a twist is if you have a very poor sense of perspective which, if you think that going into the Big Brother house is a good thing to do, you probably have.

The 2008 edition was won by John, who spent most of his time wandering around looking sad and confused, before waiting until other housemates were in the middle of a deep and meaningful conversation before going up to them and plonking himself down, between them, ruining any moment that might have been going on, much like a cartoon ginger bear with poor social skills, created by the same people who came up with The Broons and Oor Wullie. John is the chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament and labours under the delusion that not only do people care about this organisation, they actually know what it is. His winning of the contest probably says less about his popularity in the outside world and more about the low numbers of people who actually watched the thing. Although he, as someone interested in this sort of thing, would not doubt find it an interesting, if somewhat depressing, comment on some of the inherent problems with democracy.

Amy was robbed.

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