In one sense, it’s a show based on human interaction, game-play and strategy. On the other, it’s a show based on fights and arguing, lewd and crude behaviour and obscene scenes not fit for a child’s eye. So ever since Nine announced Big Brother would return in a ‘family-friendly’ format, it’s no surprise the news has divided fans and commentators alike.
Tonight, fans will get a glimpse of the new series with a brand new advert set to air during The Voice. And on the back of news about Big Brother’s format earlier on in the week, I thought what better time to reflect on what is becoming quite a debated issue surrounding the show.
So Big Brother will air weeknights from 7pm. You don’t need publicists and executives telling you that here, the show needs to be family friendly to suit classification rules. It may be the perfect filler for Nine’s end-of-year schedule for that timeslot, but in this day and age, is the show now suited for it, or has it become something that requires a later showing?
When aired on Network Ten, the timeslot was constantly criticised and blamed for the show’s dwindling figures. Competition against heavyweight drama Home and Away and Nine’s array of sitcoms was one excuse. Inconsistent finishing times (one night, the show could run for an hour, while the next night it would run for half an hour) was another. The third excuse was that the timeslot was just too tame for what the show had become, and fans argued a move could have saved the show.
In hindsight, we now know that competition against 7pm shows and inconsistent finishing times makes no difference to performance. MasterChef demonstrated this throughout 2009 and continues to do so today.
In any case, the dwindling ratings could only be put down to viewer’s lack of care for the show. But could that care have been re-established if the show was able to fulfil what it had ‘become’?
What I mean is that as a social experiment, Big Brother’s timeslot made no difference. A 7pm timeslot suited just fine. But as years went by, the show was attracting viewers because of controversies, brash behaviour and lewd content. Maybe the show could have been more appealing to viewers by airing at a later timeslot, where it could have capitalised on airing these scenes.
When discussing this topic, looking at the UK and US versions of the show pretty much sums up the pro’s and con’s of both sides of the debate.
In the UK, Big Brother is aired late at night. It airs graphic scenes relatively unedited and was able to hang on to sustained successful audiences for longer than our version could. After an infamous race row during the show’s fifth celebrity edition, tighter regulations were placed on the show, and coincidentally, numbers dropped and have remained low ever since (even causing the show to be axed from its former broadcaster, Channel 4).
In the US, Big Brother has aired in a family-friendly format since the beginning. Then again, the show relies more on game-play than fights and nudity for content due to its revised format. Even still, its viewing figures have remained high, and have seen growth even into its thirteenth season!
In Australia, Big Brother has always aired ‘family-friendly’. Anyone who wanted more could watch Uncut or UpLate. By the show’s last season in 2008, both of these editions were axed and while it did offer a more adult show in the form of ‘Big Mouth’, you only have to ask a Big Brother fan for details on how THAT went down.
But I for one have never watched Big Brother for the graphic scenes of nudity and bitching. Well, sometimes for the latter and once or twice for the former, but that’s beside the point! I also find that it is just too ignorant to put so much blame of Big Brother’s demise on the choice of timeslot. However, now Nine are bringing back the show, is a raunchier show needed to make sure the show is back with both a bang and a difference?
Nine confirmed that a 9pm edition of the show would air on GO! Now, it is unclear whether this will be a once-a-week edition, or a nightly edition, or even what the show will entail. It seems rumours of an UpLate reincarnation have been both denied and rubbished. Nine also reiterated the fact that it did not want fighting, nudity or any controversy. They wanted a clean show that was back-to-basics. Now, as much as this is Fiiiine by me, is it the best approach?
When Ten axed the show, Nine said it was thinking of bringing the show back ‘with another format’, and even when it revived the show last year, it wanted to show audiences that their version would be different- even calling it ‘Big Brother: Secrets’. Now, they want the exact same version- in its purely original form! Just a note to Nine- Ten promised a ‘back-to-basics’ format at least three or four times during Big Brother’s run, with negative results.
It is almost impossible to pull off. Imagine if Nine screened repeats of the 2001 season at 7pm next week. It may grab some ratings for the first episode due to the nostalgic factor- but surely fans would bore of it by the end of the first fortnight and the show would bomb. It just cannot work.
What Big Brother fans want is for the show to return and give the nation a smack across its face! It needs to be shocking and interesting. No, it doesn’t have to be over the top controversial, but ‘back-to-basics’ family-friendly? Sorry, it’s not filling me with lots of hope! That 9pm showing better be good!
Sonia Kruger, host of Big Brother for Nine, has hinted at a more challenged-based format. Another note is that Sonia Kruger did hint that the show will be more based around challenges. This could entail a more task-based series, which could give the show content to work with and add a higher element of game-play. I think if these challenges are credible, exciting, humorous and affects the way the housemates live in a significant way, then the show could work.
Big Brother is back, but is it with a bang? Does the family-friendly timeslot of 7pm offer the show, and through that, the fans, a decent platform to entertain, spark interest and debate and get the format firing again, or will it ensure Big Brother’s return will be temporary? Why do you watch Big Brother?
I’ll leave you with those questions, and a reminder that there WILL be a new promo for Big Brother airing tonight during The Voice. Sonia Kruger features and it is based around Big Brother rejecting the ‘wannabe’s’ apparently. Sounds exciting.
Big Brother Australia makes its Channel Nine debut STRAIGHT after the Olympics.
And don’t forget to jog your memory before the launch by catching up with some ex-housemates! Our comprehensive list of housemates and their lives post-Big Brother is here.