I am still surprised it took this long for Big Brother to return to Australian TV screens. When it finished its run on Channel Ten back in 2008, I didn’t think it would be long before another network picked it up and produced a scaled-down, low-key version for some late-night padding to help fill up their Australian content quota.

Are any of these people normal? Picture: Chanel Nine

As per usual, I was wrong. Either the image of the increasingly scandal-ridden show was too tainted for our highly risk-adverse network executives, or it took the good folks at Dreamworld a full four years to come up with a wacky new hot tub design.

So, I watched last night’s premiere on Nine with a genuine professional and personal interest (being a media studies academic, and having worked in a minor role in the production of one of the show’s earlier iterations), and I really wanted to see how it would all pan out.

For quite a while, things were looking promising, after the new host, and some early promotional ads (no, not the stupid BB shuffle ones), indicated that we wouldn’t be seeing just another conga line of wannabe celebrities who would end up eeking out a living by routinely posing topless for Zoo Weekly.

The first housemate, Michael, seemed like a funny guy. So, all was going according to plan.

But, when Angie, the blonde sales rep from the Gold Coast (yeah, totally original, huh?) stepped on stage, I started getting worried. Then, when we were introduced to Layla, the British beautician and suspected casting reject from The Only Way Is Essex, I was like Bill Paxton in Aliens: “game over, man. Game over.”

Fortunately, Bradley, the nerdy, stuttering virgin, stepped in at the end to partly save the day.

You see, I have this theory – and I’m pretty sure its correct – that Big Brother is at its best when it’s kept simple.

That the real pleasure was always in watching people we could identify with or aspire to be like, and empathising with their experiences and interactions. Like, when Zack fell in love with Billy, but Billy didn’t love him back. Or when Peter nominated his good friend Turkan for eviction, because she was home-sick.

We actually don’t want manufactured conflict (“ooh, that skater chick is totally going to have a run in with the xenophobic farm girl”), and we certainly don’t want to see the drunken antics of a bunch of slappers and douchebags (I presume everyone remembers ‘Hot Dogs’?). Leave that to The Shire.

In Big Brother we’re just looking for people to relate with.

Think I am wrong? Well, remember Andy? She was the bisexual dominatrix who was quite keen to sleep with as many people in the house as possible. She was also the very first housemate to ever be evicted from Big Brother in this country (and, unfortunately for her, having not achieved a single conquest). If your (married) housemate showered naked in the backyard, you might want to evict them too.

On the other end of the spectrum, the winner of each of the eight series so far has usually been the most unexceptional, ordinary, down-to-earth of them all. And, as Ten began ramping up the crazy over the years, and started contriving new schemes and new plot twists, the audience numbers started tailing off massively.

I think that shows we just want to watch real, normal people who are like us, and imagine what we would do when presented with similar circumstances in real life.

That’s probably the biggest secret of them all.

Most commented


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    • P. Walker says:

      06:35am | 14/08/12

      As the roast said last night; its very green of them to recycle more rubbish.

    • Bruce says:

      08:30am | 14/08/12

      Rubbish ! Thats sounds more like a compliment ! Insulting ‘CRAPP’ would be a better description.

    • Savaloy says:

      06:59am | 14/08/12

      Remember when Hotdogs got busted involved in a lewd act in a lane next to a nightclub just after he got kicked out? Oh Hotdogs, you scallywag.

    • thatmosis says:

      07:03am | 14/08/12

      The best thing about Big brother was the time spent advertising it so that that channel could be removed from viewing until this puerile crap is over. In fact all reality shows are banned in this household as puerile and meaningless and an affront to peoples intelligence.
        I realise that there are some out there who need there daily fix of “reality” garbage but luckily there are many more who see these shows for what they are and what they represent and have the foresight to carefully avoid them like the plague.
        We have also decided to not buy anything from the major sponsors of these shows to make our small but very emphatic statement.

    • Mahhrat says:

      07:34am | 14/08/12

      Completely agree.  Put normal(ish) people (obviously, they’re going to be extroverted or they wouldn’t apply) in the house.  I said yesterday that the most important thing is to stop taking their basic needs off them (hot water, food etc).

      Stop treating them like concentration camp victims.  Let them have fun, let them be responsibly drunk, let them argue and fight.

      What I always enjoyed about the first three years was how characters changed because of their time in the house.  I like the idea of Zoe, because she’s pretty cut and dried on the whole Xenophobia thing, but I’d lay London to a brick that she’s never encountered people as far left as many of the housemates.

      As to the two or three “gorgeous” ones, BB has always been voyeuristic.  I hope they can bring back the adult time slots.  I mean shit, if Game of Thrones is acceptable for Australia TV, then nothing BB would put on should be an issue now.

      As for my early picks, I’m going to say our nerdy friend is your juvie offender.  For a self-professed housebound geek, he’s very comfortable talking to the 30-year old dark-haired lass.  I suspect a little sociopathy in that one.

    • Winter says:

      01:54pm | 14/08/12

      Michael has orthinophobia, remember he asked big brother if they were going to send in some chickens for company and he looked slightly worried.

    • Winter says:

      04:39pm | 14/08/12


    • Mike says:

      07:41am | 14/08/12

      Oooh, a retro theme.  How unoriginal…it has been done to death.

      Seriously, the whole concept of moving into a house with people you didn’t know (that part at least), I was doing that 15 years ago in Uni, way before shows like “Big Brother” became famous.  It was also done on TV back in 1997 with a San Fran sharehouse (not a drama or a sitcom..and not
      “Friends”, it was actually a doco)

      The fizz has gone, stop flogging a dead horse and get something decent back on TV.  Seriously, is this the best we can hope for after two weeks of the Olympics ?

    • k.marshall says:

      12:56pm | 14/08/12

      The book 1984 ,  the experiment is based on, was written when ?  Mabye the retro fit out fits the theme of then. smile

    • Tubesteak says:

      07:59am | 14/08/12

      “That the real pleasure was always in watching people we could identify with or aspire to be like”

      I’ve never seen much more than 5 minutes of this turgid piece of drivel but from the ads and attendant celebrity I’ve never seen someone that was more than the usual fugly bogan dross that I despise.

      If you want to have someone in there that I could identify with then you’d have a lawyer or investment banker in there with more letters after their name than in their name. Just like me.

    • Jack says:

      03:18pm | 14/08/12

      You wont see us in there, because we have jobs and things to do. Hence the population of bokeass students, smelly backpackers and bogan hairdressers.

      Triple tautology achievement unlocked!

    • M says:

      08:17am | 14/08/12

      I want to slip industrial grade hallucinogens into the water supply. That’ll make it interesting to watch.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      01:07pm | 14/08/12

      Or slip one person per week some PCP and the audience can win prizes by guessing which one it is. It’s easy, so everyone can play.

    • Mouse says:

      01:23pm | 14/08/12

      hahahahahahaha! Yes, now that would be fun to watch.  LOL :o)

    • Valerie says:

      09:07am | 14/08/12

      They lost me when the first person teetered out with their tiny luggage case, if it starts off fake and false…

    • Freeman says:

      09:07am | 14/08/12

      Big Brother is a bunch of nobodies doing nothing.

      How could one’s life be so lacking that it could be improved by watching these morons?

    • M says:

      09:42am | 14/08/12

      Women love that sort of thing.

    • miloinacup says:

      01:03pm | 14/08/12

      Men love that sort of thing.

    • M says:

      01:23pm | 14/08/12

      Come on milo, be reasonable. Women watch these shows because they love to gossip about the lives of others. Why do you think the fat bogan Sarah thing from the first season became so famous?  Hint, it wasn’t because men liked her.

    • miloinacup says:

      01:53pm | 14/08/12

      M - plenty of men watch these kinds of shows. They may watch for different reasons, but they still watch. My boyfriend watches that Lara Bingle drivel, and even though his reasons don’t go past anything other than “she’s hot”, he’s still giving it ratings. I’m sure there are PLENTY of men out there who watched BB last night, so to say that the only reason these shows thrive are due to women and their need to gossip is just stupid.

    • M says:

      02:18pm | 14/08/12

      I disagree, the only people i know who watch/are talking about big brother are women. Maybe I move in different circles to you.

      I didn’t watch it, but I’ll be watching the next episode keenly. If the advertisments during the add breaks are disproportionally targeted at women, I will have been vindicated.

      Any man who watches bingle forfeits a man card.

    • miloinacup says:

      02:43pm | 14/08/12

      M - we most definitely move in different circles. Your views on the way women act or the things they like are so far removed from the women I surround myself with, it’s almost laughable.

    • M says:

      02:56pm | 14/08/12

      They aren’t views, they are realities based on experience.

      Did you and your friends do gender studies at uni per chance?

    • miloinacup says:

      03:46pm | 14/08/12

      Yeah, realities based on YOUR experience. I’m a woman, and a lot of the things you claim every woman does are totally foreign to me. Making a blanket statement about an entire gender is ridiculous, and like Slothy said in the other thread, you do it all the time. It’s hard to get on your side with an argument, or even take your arguments seriously, when you constantly take a few things you have decided are ‘female traits’ and apply them to every female ever, and then claim it’s “reality”.

      Men are more likely to be violent than women, and therefore every single man is violent. Silly statement, no? Switch the genders around and replace violence with gossip and surely you can see why sometimes your comments come across as plain idiodic.

    • M says:

      04:22pm | 14/08/12

      Actually, women are more likely to be violent than men are when you consider the many defininitions of domestic violence.

      What I say are generalisations, and to a large extent they are true. Just because you get your skirt up because they don’t apply to you in particular doesn’t mean they aren’t true, there will always be an exception to the rule.

    • NigelC says:

      09:08am | 14/08/12

      Channel Nine utterly destroyed Top[ Gear by taking a top-rating show and padding each episode with advertisement, repeating parts of shows and moving the timeslot so often that even die-hard fans eventually just switched off.
      In the case of Big Brother they have taken a show at the lowest point in its ratings already. It will be interesting to see how channel nine manages to make this abortion of a program even worse - but I’m sure they will.

    • Dave says:

      09:13am | 14/08/12

      Yawnnnnnnnnnnnn. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Can we stop with this reality TV overload for God’s sake!!!!! This crap almost makes Home & Away seem like intelligent viewing…..I did say almost

    • M says:

      09:45am | 14/08/12

      At least home and away has a believable script.

    • Dave says:

      11:48am | 14/08/12

      “At least home and away has a believable script. ” Just how many people would believe half the crap on Home & Away would occur in such a small place and call it believable!!! That is like saying politicians are here to help

    • M says:

      12:22pm | 14/08/12

      You reckon what happens on reality television is believable?

    • Greg says:

      09:15am | 14/08/12

      you can’t even watch it live on the internet anymore the tag line should be

      ‘big brother is always watching and showing small edited clips’

    • Anna C says:

      09:27am | 14/08/12

      I have no intention of watching ‘Big Brother’.  Please no more crap reality shows (I know it’s tautology).  I really wish free to air TV channels would stop scraping the bottom of the barrel and put some decent TV shows on for a change.

    • Al says:

      09:50am | 14/08/12

      “I am still surprised it took this long for Big Brother to return to Australian TV screens.”

      Really Stephen? After the Turkey slapping incident I’m surprised it wasn’t canned outright and deemed too toxic to even contemplate again.

      Seeing you were involved with previous iterations of the show, perhaps you would care to elaborate how those two narcissistic clowns escaped sexual assault charges and why CH 10 thought it should have gone to air/web streamed at all?

    • Markus says:

      10:17am | 14/08/12

      The ‘turkey slap’ incident was a ratings peak for a show spiralling into an ever sinking trough.

      Rather than can it outright, I’m actually surprised the network didn’t milk the outrage for all it was worth and make the following Friday night games a Teabag special.

    • Al says:

      09:51am | 14/08/12

      “I am still surprised it took this long for Big Brother to return to Australian TV screens.”

      Really Stephen? After the Turkey slapping incident I’m surprised it wasn’t canned outright and deemed too toxic to even contemplate again.

      Seeing you were involved with previous iterations of the show, perhaps you would care to elaborate how those two narcissistic clowns escaped sexual assault charges and why CH 10 thought it should have gone to air/web streamed at all?

    • Al says:

      09:50am | 14/08/12

      “I am still surprised it took this long for Big Brother to return to Australian TV screens.”

      Really Stephen? After the Turkey slapping incident I’m surprised it wasn’t canned outright and deemed too toxic to even contemplate again.

      Seeing you were involved with previous iterations of the show, perhaps you would care to elaborate how those two narcissistic clowns escaped sexual assault charges and why CH 10 thought it should have gone to air/web streamed at all?

    • k.marshall says:

      10:19am | 14/08/12

      Good to see nine not fixing something that, in the first or so series, was not broken. I am looking forward to BB this time. If it isn’t real….sniggering here…I can just as easily go back to austar. It is an interesting social experiment….so long as the lot are not total tossas or bogans high on botex and stupidity. I got laughs last night with Micheal , so have some hope .
      Anything .ANYTHING , is better than the pollies.

    • Cry in my Gin says:

      11:03am | 14/08/12

      Transgender netball played with sticks in latex lingerie covered in olive oil and rolled in hundreds and thousands. People would watch that.

    • M says:

      11:28am | 14/08/12

      Nothing short of Hardcore pornography would entice me to watch big brother, and even that’s a stretch.

    • Dave says:

      11:44am | 14/08/12

      How about they put the Dutch Women’s Hockey team into the house? Now that would be something worth watching with or withour the hundreds & thousands

    • M says:

      12:14pm | 14/08/12

      Hey dave, you can get that sort of thing on the internet now you know?

    • Mouse says:

      01:26pm | 14/08/12

      Oh Cry in my Gin, you either need to change your beverage or get a hobby, methinks! lol :o)

    • Economist says:

      12:54pm | 14/08/12

      Can’t disagree with Stephen’s assessment. The first thing that struck me is how white these people are. Being channel 9 I’m anticipating tonight that they’ll do a cross promotion with centrebet on the odds for who has which secret, nothing like targeting youth of Australia with the tradition of gambling. My bet is the nerd is the one who has dated over 100 women. Quantity not quality and define what a date is?

      But Stephen is right these people, based on my own prejudgements, will not have any outstanding views or look at anything from a different perspective.  I’d much prefer the Punch with the diverse opinions and the personalities here which are far more interesting.

    • Freeman says:

      01:24pm | 14/08/12

      This show is;
      *Produced by idiots
      *Produced for idiots
      *Features idiots

      No more analysis required.

    • M says:

      01:51pm | 14/08/12

      Freeman has it.

    • AdamC says:

      02:09pm | 14/08/12

      @Economist, I cannot say I remarked especially on the housemates’ skin colour. What struck me was how similar to the old series it all looks. Despite the hype, the housemates, the house and the ‘secrets’ gimmick could all be from earlier seasons on Ten.

      The obvious reason why Nine has resurrected Big Brother is to integrate it with social media. If the clunky Twitter feed last night is anything to go by, that is still a work in progress. (Tweets like BigBrother Rocks!!!!XOXO probably do not need to go to air.)

      I actually think some integration with a wagering company could be a nice addition to proceedings.

    • Zed says:

      01:01pm | 14/08/12

      The producers should release medium to large size wild animals into the compound at random times of the day. Just a suggestion.

    • Michael says:

      01:17pm | 14/08/12

      Contagion. Zombie apocalypse. Mmmmmm.

    • Jack says:

      04:07pm | 14/08/12

      à la Dead Set?

      Good premise, but fell apart after the first episode.

    • Baloo says:

      03:01pm | 14/08/12

      Not watching big brother but, I would be intrigued to see what would happen if they were to fire off some gunshots outside and maybe fly some jet fighter above the house (pretend dog fight or something), then just cut all contact to the people inside for maybe 2 weeks.

      Try and fool them into think WW3 was happening or something, see what they do.

    • Utopia Boy says:

      03:55pm | 14/08/12

      IMO, to be successful the show needs to have it’s own dedicated channel with the ability to follow one housemate around from the remote control, and and any number of feeds, without censorship.

      Otherwise it’s simply a manipulated piece of garbage like the rest of the genre.

      The only parts of any of the worldwide syndication worth watching are the often fumbling sex scenes between attractive, drunken housemates. The producers should therefore provide unlimited alcohol for these exhibitionists.

      Truly I am a voyeur…......

    • Swamp Thing says:

      09:19pm | 14/08/12

      Orwell was right. The joke is on the morons born after about 1992.


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