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SYNOPSIS: Concept and name from George Orwell's '1984'. 12 contestants locked in a house for 10 weeks under a series of rules. Each housemate nominates 2 people for eviction each week, and the housemates with the most nominations will be put up to the public vote for the week's grand eviction. But you knew that already, right?
As usual, the house looks familiar but not quite the same. Big Brother have gone one step further this year, by reducing the size of the house and designing it in a colour scheme and layout that is supposed to 'raise tensions' amongst the housemates, as part of this year's "evil Big Brother" plan. They've also rid of the chicken coop so the housemates can attend to more pressing, better-ratings matters. They've installed spas and massage mats in the garden too - definitely pulling out all the stops to make sure SOMETHING happens this year. Another change is the bedrooms - there's only one, again Big Brother wanting something to happen.
THE CONTESTANTS, A-Z:
AHMED - An asylum seeker who has strongly voiced his rights in this country, much to the annoyance of certain other housemates. He's usually on the outside looking in on the action, but has on occasion stepped in to argue a point (as advised by Jason). In more recent episodes, he's gone "crazy", smashing plates in the garden in frustration. He's just escaped the fake eviction and I don't think he understands why.
People say he's a boring character, but I disagree. Put in a house with a majority of young, "wild" 20-somethings, the ones with a more mature outlook (but not necessarily boring) can't shine. I think Ahmed would have been more suited in groups such as the Big Brother 2 bunch, where older characters like Elizabeth and Dean balanced out the unruly bunch.
DAN - Hairdresser/DJ, apparently prefers to bed straight men and has 'turned' friends. He's a strong character with qualities of leadership and maturity - he often frowns on the "babies" of the group's activities, but still knows how to have fun himself, and it usually involves Jason.
EMMA - Accented loudmouth in three words. She's very ditzy and described herself as "gormless" at the audition. Her actions since entering the house have only justified her admission. She can usually be found asking stupid questions, rolling around in mud or fighting with archenemy Victor. She's recently been 'evicted' in to the bed sit with Michelle; the two are now plotting sweet revenge. She reminds me of Jade Goody from Big Bro 3.
JASON - Made his grand entrance in next to nothing. Prides himself on his body, but according to Dan (tampering in amateur psychology), he's not at all confident. He's now decided he's bisexual, meeting Big Brother's new "spice up" requirements of a love triangle between him, Vanessa and Dan.
KITTEN - Rebel without a clue. People tell me she's entertaining. "She stirs up so much controversy!" She only dabbled in it. At her entrance she got rightfully boo-ed for causing a scene at not being able to see her girlfriend (controversy #1), even though no other housemates had caused a fuss under the same circumstances. She thankfully got evicted for 3 counts of rule breaking in the first week. More often than not, she was on the roof demanding something, only to come down within 5 minutes, or planning an uprising against menial rules that are easier to comply to than break, e.g., going to the diary room when asked to, handing back empty suitcases. Really, what is being achieved by keeping empty suitcases? Rebellion's only good when there's reasoning and passion behind it - she had neither.
MARCO - Bald and gay. Appears to try and be the next Brian from Big Brother 2, but it doesn't really work. He's one of the "babies" and is usually messing around with Nadia or being overly dramatic. He's a law student who doesn't want to be a lawyer (???).
MICHELLE - She's already latched herself to Stuart and won't let go, seems to be very insecure despite her claiming she's confident. Most housemates think she has a game plan but I'm not so sure. She's usually half involved in the antics, half not, and is often in the corner of the action rolling her eyes. She says chicken WAY too much.
NADIA - Well known for her sex change that she hasn't yet revealed to the house (although they're on to her). I only really see her messing around or in a situation that may be uncomfortable due to her sex change, but that's channel 4 editing for you.
SHELL - Blonde and at first sight ditzy, but she actually is quite intellectual, coming from a sophisticated background of art and literature. A little like Nush I think. I didn't coin her as one of the bitches at first, but now she and Vanessa have bonded, there's alot of backstabbing going on.
STUART - Student over-achiever and Michelle's "chicken". He currently seems to be drifting between the two cliques of the house - the adults and the babies, probably due to Michelle's involvement with the latter.
VANESSA - A strong-headed South African woman, teamed with both Shell and Jason. I'm not exactly sure what she's about, but something about her makes me feel uneasy.
VICTOR - Apparently he's "slick" and a self-confessed alpha-male, but we'll see. He's certainly slimy, having already tried his luck with Michelle, and his whole sexist attitude didn't go down well with Kitten. He prides himself on being black and "from the streets". A bit of an all round prat.
Even if the series is rubbish (Big Brother 4), you can always rely on presenters Davina Mccall and Dermot O'Leary to make it worth while watching, regardless of the quality of the show. Davina Mccall (aka Big Mutha) is the main host of the show, presenting the eviction nights and interviewing the guests. Dermot presents the E4 mini-show Big Brother's Little Brother, which deals with news from the house, guests, opinion polls, etc., all in a jokey manor.
This year Big Brother have been both generous and cruel with the prize up for grabs. The stakes are high at £100,000 this year, but the housemates are expected to work for their money. The weekly tasks seen on previous Big Brothers remain - only now if failure ensues, £10,000 is taken from the kitty. They have already lost less than needed thanks to Kitten refusing to leave the house on eviction, so who knows, maybe the final prize money will be zero.
So far we haven't seen any 'normal' evictions - just Kitten being led out by Davina to a crowdless enclosure, and the double eviction housemates led in through a back corridor to the bed sit. From the premiere show, however, we were told that this year all evictees would be interviewed outside on a stage rather than being led through the crowds to a smaller room. I think this is a good idea as it captures the atmosphere better with the crowd shouting, etc.
For the forth year running, E4 are offering live coverage through most parts of the day on their channel. They also show Big Brother's Little Brother, a fanzine type show updating with news and evictee interviews and games. It's a fun show to watch and sometimes I ditch the main week nightly show and stick to watching this instead - Dermot makes the show what it is.
Another new show this year is Eforum, an interactive discussion and debate show involving the house. It's an alright programme, but I don't think it's really necessary with BBLB already on the scene, it's going too far.
I'm not sure about the balance on this series. It seems Big Brother are going all out to make it interesting by including young, vibrant characters, but they're forgetting that too many similar people don't mix well, and they're limiting their audience. I don't think so many attempts to spark tension and fireworks is needed either - stuck in a house for ten weeks will do that by itself, they should have just concentrated on getting a better mix of characters.
All the same, as long as I've nothing better to do at 10pm, channel 4 will probably be on in my house.