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Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother axed as final series confirmed by Channel 5

PUBLISHED: 12:32 14 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:12 14 September 2018

Big Brother (C) C5

Big Brother (C) C5

C5

Big Brother has been axed by Channel 5, meaning the new series of the show will be its last for both the civilian and celebrity versions of the long-running reality show. Are we sad, happy or non-plussed? Big Brother may be watching us, but are we still watching Big Brother?

When I was at university, studying sociology like Rik from The Young Ones – Patron Saint of Sociologists - we used to dream of a time when we could experiment on real-life humans in the name of social sciences.

We didn’t want to whip out test tubes and electrodes and syringes (at least not always) but what we did want to do was watch people’s reactions to extreme situations and then write clever essays about them to ensure we got to wear a gown after three years and finish our signature with ‘BA Hons’.

It was, we were told, immoral to put people in extreme situations so that we could watch their reactions. The only way we could carry out such research was if we, rather than normal people, were the guinea pigs and we practiced ethnomethodology, which I won’t - but could – go into in great detail.

I remember one experiment where, after making prior arrangements with a department store, I spent a few hours very obviously shop-lifting to see how other people reacted. Only two spoke to security guards. That’s the benefit of ethnomethodology in Liverpool.

Celebrity Big Brother January 2018 - Rylan Clark-Neal (C) C5Celebrity Big Brother January 2018 - Rylan Clark-Neal (C) C5

The very concept of the Big Brother programme would have been a dream to us wet-behind-the-ears social scientists: the chance to watch society under 24-hour supervision, to see guards slip and be part of the countdown to Lord of the Flies-style insanity – amazing.

I watched the first British series, which started on July 18 2000, avidly, partly for the reasons listed above, partly because I am one of the nosiest creatures alive and partly because I was six-months pregnant with my second child and was too hot, bothered and huge to move far from the TV screen.

My interest in the show waxed and waned but there’s always a grim fascination in watching the disintegration of social niceties and convention from the comfort of your own living room, especially when you vaguely recognise the people involved from red-top newspapers and snatches of late-night channel surfing. I somewhat listlessly watched some of the last celebrity series and noted it was somewhat better than of late, which isn’t saying a great deal.

This needlessly wordy preamble, of course, heralds the ultimate demise of Big Brother on Channel Five.

Celebrity Big Brother January 2018 - Presenter Emma Willis (C) C5Celebrity Big Brother January 2018 - Presenter Emma Willis (C) C5

The broadcaster said: “The forthcoming series of Big Brother will be the last – of either celebrity or civilian versions – on Channel 5. We’d like to thank Endemol and all of the production team who have worked tirelessly to make the show a success.

“We’d also like to thank our brilliant presenters – Emma on Big Brother and Rylan from Bit on the Side – for their consummate professionalism, Marcus, the voice of Big Brother and all of the housemates who have created so many memorable moments.

“Most importantly, we’d like to thank fans of the show for their support over the last seven years. We look forward to giving the final series a brilliant send-off.”

That send-off may well see another channel vie for the contract for the Elstree production (a new planning application will keep the Big Brother house open until 2021) if it’s popular enough: Channel Five has brought back producer Paul Osborne who worked on the very first series of the show and gave us Nasty Nick and Nikki “WHO IS SHE?” Grahame and he’s promising to bring back the old spark. By which I don’t think he means Nikki. Sadly.

Rylan, who has hosted Big Brother’s Bit On The Side for six years, tweeted: “After six years working on one of the most iconic shows on television, I’m saddened to hear the news Big Brother won’t be returning. It has been the biggest privilege being a housemate, a winner and a host on my favourite show on the television.

“To work with Emma, Marcus and the amazing team on BOTS every day and have made friends for life I’m truly the luckiest guy in the industry. I hope one day Big Brother will return but my focus now, as with the rest of the team is to make our last series the best yet.

“I’d like to thank all our guests, housemates and teams from over the years, Endemol and Channel 5 for having me and most of all the viewers for sharing this amazing journey. I learned how to host a show on the job here and I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity.”

I’ll be somewhat sad to let Big Brother go: that baby I was cooking back in July 2000 turns 18 in November, so it’s literally taken him from babyhood to adulthood, albeit he’s not a fan and that probably says it all. But I’d wager Big Brother will be back, sooner rather than later.

* Big Brother begins on Channel 5, September 14, 9pm.

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