Is it time to revive Big Brother yet?
Last week’s reunion of the infamous reality series on A Current Affair reminded us how ground-breaking the series was.
We laughed with Sara-Marie, we fell in love with Marty & Jess, we cheered as Chrissie stood up to Ben, we were spell-bound with the trickery of the Logan twins and awe-struck by Merlin’s “Free the Refugee” protest. Nothing else has come close to replicating unscripted television.
Now Channel Five in the UK is reviving the series as a low-cost to create some buzz for the low-rating channel.
Could Big Brother work on a digital channel in Australia: ELEVEN, GO! or 7mate?
Made properly, the show has the ability to revolutionise digital channels with a youthful audience hooked on the characters that populate the house. In an early evening timeslot it could be dynamite.
“The strength of the show was it’s guarantee of huge quantities of content. It both guarantees interest in itself and fuels interest in itself because there are so many points of entry into so many different stories,” an industry source told TV Tonight.
“This is also its weakness. Small issues and stories can consume the public and the main stories can become lost in the noise. Turkey slaps were 2 seconds of behaviour and barely worthy of a second thought in the bigger picture.”
Central to reviving Big Brother is the issue of cost. Revenue for digital channels is still growing from its low launch base.
In the UK eviction shows were staged on premium channels with the Daily show on the less-profile multichannels. Eviction shows that bear a high cost per hour, could be complemented by the bulk of the show on a secondary channel at a low cost per hour.
“I don’t think it can be made on much less than $15m. That’s still less than the rumoured cost of The X Factor but with far more content,” said the source.
TV Tonight understands commercial networks have previously toyed with the idea of reviving BB, but the idea is yet to become serious. Readers regularly express their desire to see the Southern Star show return -but what form might it take?
In the fourteen years since the show first began in the Netherlands it has undergone numerous twists and turns in territories across the world: fake evictions, Power of Veto, all-female house, artificial village, housemates with best friends, housemates with mothers, Big Brother family, Vote to Evict / Vote to Save, Celebrity Hijack, the house in a Bubble in a shopping centre -and more…
In France it has morphed into Secret Story (logo pictured), a series in which each contestant enters the house with a personal secret. Housemates are compelled to interact with one another to try and discover each secret and win cash prizes. Result: no more flying under the radar.
But has there been enough time between Sunday night evictions for the Australian public to wipe the slate clean and revisit this bold social experiment?
“Within the next few years there’ll be a generation of potential housemates and audiences for whom the show will be fresh,” says an insider.
“Rather than having to change the show to bring it back, there needs to be a re-set on audience expectations and a fresh set of housemates who don’t all speak in reality show soundbites. The later series had a lexicon based on a repetition of previous series by the housemates.”
Which brings us to the question of where the show might best fit.
“Nine needs it right now. A show of its size could transform their schedule and ratings. That said, it’s probably premature in a timing sense for them to buy it – the show hasn’t rested long enough. But it could work on Nine + GO!
“Seven doesn’t need it. It would be a big change to their screen culture were they to buy it. It could work on TEN + ELEVEN but the same factors preventing Nine doing it now, probably prevent TEN.”
It may still be too soon to bring the format back, but Big Brother‘s power to create buzz to an audience now linked by social networking, can’t be denied.
“The show can be made as a zoo or as a circus. It can reflect and illuminate aspects of society or not.”