In 2000, a new concept for a television show aired in the UK.
It was a really interesting concept; take a group of complete strangers and isolate them in a house. They have no contact with the outside world, no family or friends for support, no technology or stimuli – and wait to see, via the multiple hidden cameras, how they interact.
For me, the first was the only series to be viable. The social experiment could only work one time. After that, the house was simply inhabited by fame hungry wannabes, eager to get their five minutes of fame and willing to do anything controversial to prolong that.
A spin off from that, Celebrity Big Brother, is a concept that just cannot work. The housemates may not have physically met each other prior to signing up, but they will be aware of each other and have preconceived ideas.
This year, on day 6, Ken Morley was removed from the house for using unacceptable and offensive language when referring to Alexander O’Neal. He has also been seen following 2 females into the shower, exclaiming the house was “the best place to look at arses in the world”. Ken has previously admitted groping and grabbing women in the 80s and was shown acting inappropriately, making personal comments and being rude and insulting in 2010 when he appeared in a celebrity edition of Come Dine With Me.
This comes just two days after Jeremy Jackson, the former Baywatch star, was instructed to leave after ‘touching’ Chloe Goodman (MTV’s Ex on the Beach). Jeremy claimed that due to the excessive amounts of alcohol he consumed (provided by Big Brother), he misinterpreted Chloe’s care-giving as flirting – but as Mr Jackson has a well documented history of addiction problems, it could be argued that Channel 5 failed in a duty of care, to ALL contestants within the house.
Ofcom has also received complaints about Katie Hopkins‘ offensive language. REALLY? A woman who tweeted the most disgusting anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian messages and was entirely inappropriate when tweeting about Pauline Cafferkey, the Scottish nurse who went out to Sierra Leone to volunteer with Save the Children and contracted Ebola. But why would we be surprised by Katie’s in-house behaviour when she has famously built a ‘career’ on being inflammatory and controversial.
Perez Hilton has become the latest contestant to have been warned as he has now made threatening remarks to a fellow house mate.
Celebrity Big Brother has come under fire for bullying (2014), racism (2007) and the physical and mental strain of appearing on the series.
But when you look at their dwindling viewing figures with series 1 (2001) gleaning an average of 5.2 million per episode, falling to less than 2.1 million, on average, last year, one has to consider whether Endemol are scraping the bottom of the contestant barrel, opting for unpredictable and damaged former celebrities desperately hoping to resurrect a career in the hope of they themselves breathing life into the ashes of a dying programme.