Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Big Brother - Moaning, Droning and Nonsense; outside the Box GARETH LIGHTFOOT

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Big Brother - Moaning, Droning and Nonsense; outside the Box GARETH LIGHTFOOT

Article excerpt

SOME TV shows, once abandoned, once their time has passed, should not be resurrected, either by the makers or the viewers.

I fear Big Brother: Power Trip (Channel 5) may fall into this miserable category after watching one episode of its latest series.

I once sat glued to this for months. At least an hour of my time daily was devoted to watching a bunch of narcissistic strangers skulk around a glorified rat's maze. "Who goes? You decide" became the most pressing question of the day.

Saying it like that now, it all sounds like a waste of time.

BB-mania round my place reached its heady zenith in the series featuring Jade Goody and - still my favourite Big Brotherer - Alex the cleaner (he's not a hitman, he just liked cleaning). In the olden days of Big Brother, even at its most contrived, you at least got the vague impression you were watching some people living out their lives with the ebb and flow of tensions, feuds and allegiances in the group.

Now, it seems, any dubious pretence at naturalism or reality has been completely abandoned.

The basic concept and the theme music is about all that remains unchanged.

In fairness it needs to be stressed I decided this on the strength of one episode. But that's tough, for I shall not watch another.

The house bears the appearance of a prison spacecraft manufactured by EasyJet.

With its garish flashes of colour, its bank of screens showing data flickering around the housemates' mugshots, it looks sterile, synthetic and cheap as chips. The diary room is like something from Tron.

If I was feeling snobby I'd say it's gone downmarket since it moved to Channel 5. But I'm not so I won't.

It now features a dramatic "previously on" section at the start with thundering music, constant cuts and zooming. For latecomers to the action, housemate names flash onscreen and there are flashbacks to previous episodes.

Local lad Marcus Bentley once gave a purely dispassionate commentary on events.

Now he's having a whale of a time, given scope to ramp up the drama of his voiceover to heroic levels to create excitement and tension.

"Bitching and back-stabbing reign supreme!" he enthuses. "The bitching breaks out and the positivity plummets!... Coming up, Pauline lets rrrrip and Helen's not happy!" Bitching doesn't break out, it just festers, mopes and hangs in the air, not nearly as thrilling as the narrator's tone promises.

The entire show is clogged with whingeing, whispering, complaining about washing-up, people taking offence and talking total and utter drivel, saying things like "I'm not getting involved" (you are) and "I've never judged anyone" (you have).

One resident says: "Two of these housemates are getting on my wick. I've done a few diatribes and monologues." Don't we know it.

The only non-bitchy conversations I catch are some twaddle about modelling and a relatively nice chat where two women clear the air. …

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