Can a four-year break and a move to a new channel cleanse the famous reality show of its toxicity?
Just when I thought I’d get my evenings back after Love Island, an ex waltzed into my life again without warning. An ex that you know is bad for you, but you just can’t stay away. I am, of course, talking about Big Brother, which has somehow risen from the dead.
On the same night as the Love Island final, ITV2 announced it was reviving the original reality TV series with a simple teaser of the iconic eye set to the even more iconic theme song by Paul Oakenfold and Andy Gray.
It sent chills down my spine, wiping my memories of all the extremely bleak moments that happened in that bungalow and leaving me with the warm thoughts of Glyn Wise learning how to boil an egg, Nasty Nick being rumbled for his plot and Tiffany Pollard mistakenly thinking David Gest had died instead of David Bowie.
It has been four years since Big Brother and its celebrity counterpart were axed by Channel 5, where it had lived for seven years after moving from Channel 4. At the time, it had been running for 18 years, but the once glorious social experiment had descended into uncomfortable watching.
Its final celebrity edition saw soap star Roxanne Pallett falsely claim she had been punched by Corrie actor Ryan Thomas, an incident that became the most complained-about TV moment of the decade.
The civilian house was full of calculated and cookie-cutter fame-seekers, and having become well-versed in how the sausage is made, producer-moulded rows made viewers feel queasy.
Of course, controversy had always followed Big Brother, from the days of Fight Night and the racist bullying of Shilpa Shetty, but when it became commonplace rather than once-off issues, pulling the plug was the only option.
So, is four years and a new channel all it really takes to cleanse one of the most toxic shows of the reality TV era? God, I hope so. For all its flaws, I adored Big Brother – and I mean the Channel 4 era. There are few series of television better than series seven, which gave us Pete Bennett, the late Nikki Grahame’s legendary “Who is she?” tantrum and Grace throwing a drink over a posh woman who had won entry to the house via a lottery.
I often think of Helen of series two sincerely professing: “I love blinking, I do.” The show was at its best when an eccentric group of people of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life were forced to interact and do stupid tasks.
To make a rebooted BB a success, ITV2 needs to return to what made it great. No influencers or people who were once on a dating show. Not just young hotties – we already have Love Island – but older people and oddballs.
A mix of genuine people, so we get to see a Women’s Institute member become best friends with a 20-year-old with a mohawk, and a polyamorous anarchist explain to a retired estate agent why landlordism should be outlawed.
And bring back the celebrity edition, so we can see disgraced former politicians write up a shopping list with an X Factor runner-up and Rebekah Vardy.
It’s what we deserve.