Let’s party like it’s 1984

Tonight is the official end of Big Brother – the reality TV show that takes “normal” people and watches their every move – starting out with around 6 weeks and ending up with a mammoth 3 month stay in a claustrophobic and badly constructed house based in Elstree (originally Bow, fact fans).

A lot of people sneer at the programme as a prime example of dumbed down TV. I’ll wager most of these people have never watched an episode, let alone become involved in a series. The people who sneer are missing the point. Big Brother has never claimed to be Newsnight. But it is a brilliant snapshot of human behaviour – named after Orwell’s novel about a terrifying future society when your every move is monitored but actually more like Animal Farm – a survival of the fittest in which our own social world is reflected in a horribly intense and intrusive environment. But it makes bloody good TV.

Yes, the programme has gone downhill as the housemates have become more and more media savvy – almost in tandem with the tabloids losing interest.

Yes, the majority of the those housemates are people you would probably cross the street to avoid.

Yes, the producers will massively influence voting viewers with the way the show is edited.

Yes, the obsession with romance (or showmance as the more jaded (pun intended) fans call it) is boring in the extreme

Yes, it brings out the very worst in everybody who takes part and watches the show.

But. I. Bloody. Love. It.

From the first series – which was a genuine social experiment with normal people involved – to the last, which was not such a freak show as we have seen in recent years but still a house full of glamour girls with an eye on the men’s mags and attention seeking nutters – Big Brother has provided a fascinating insight into what makes people tick.

I would eat my own head before I put myself in that house but I’m so grateful to the 250 odd (again, pun intended) who did decide to do it.

The programme has created a few genuine media careers, mainly from the earlier series, some laugh out loud moments, some major controversy (from Nasty Nick in series 1 through to fallen angel Nadia’s meltdown on eviction from the ultimate house last week) and of course, one seemingly unstoppable brand in the form of Jade Goody whose story tragically ended far too soon when she lost her battle against cancer.

Racism. Sexism. Homophobia. Transphobia. Media whores. Fake romances. Back-stabbing. A snapshot of modern life.

The ultimate winner has just been announced on Channel 4 – Brian Dowling, gay ex-trolley dolly and winner of series 2 is the favourite out of the motley crew assembled for our final judgement. He was a great housemate and seems to be a universally popular and genuine guy, but for me, the end of Big Brother isn’t about picking one winner, it’s all about celebrating a programme that has had me gripped for the last 11 years.

I’ve made some great friendships born out of discussing this piece of TV history so tonight I’m going to hold my head up and stand up to be counted – out and proud as a Big Brother fan.

RIP Big Brother.

Until next year when Five picks up the show …

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