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Big Brother is the voyeurs paradise. We get to watch the antics of 10 people in a controlled environment over a nine weeks period. This review isn't so much about Big Brother itself, but is more about the coverage of it on Channel 4's new entertainment channel E4, available of Digital services (such as Sky Digital and ONDigital). I'm going to start off with E4's coverage of Big Brother, then I'll look at E4 a bit more closely.
The nation has gone Big Brother mad once again. Last time round we had the usual highlights show on Channel 4 every evening, and for those of us who could be bothered (which didn't include me), we could watch the antics of the housemates live on the web site. This year the producers have gone one better, by putting it live on E4 almost all day long. It's actually on E4 for around 18 hours a day so I'm told (I haven't worked it out myself, but that seems about right), which includes all night and all day, with a break in the evening to show other programs.
The question to be asked is do we want this much coverage, and at what point will be people just start saying 'I can't take any more' and stop watching it? Well, I've almost reached that stage, though I do tune in for a bit in the morning while I'm having breakfast just to see if anyone is up.
The coverage on E4 allows you to choose what you watch, one of four video feeds, two of which are live and the other two tape delayed. The first two feeds are from two different areas of the house, though if everyone goes into the lounge, the two feeds are from different cameras in the same area. Now and again the sound goes, though they say this is to make sure it is suitable for daytime viewing. From this I'm guessing that it's not quite live, to give them a chance to edit it slightly for daytime viewing. However, I can't quite believe their story on that one, as on occasions, the sound has gone from one live feed, yet the sound on the other is fine and the picture is from the same area of the house. So, it’s a little annoying, but you can just about put up with it. The other two feeds are delayed by two and four hours, so you can see what they were doing a little while ago, which is generally sleeping if it is anytime before noon.
It certainly means that for those of us who love Big Brother, we get to see it as much as we want. But for those of us who don't, we lose a great channel. E4 was only broadcasting for a few weeks before it went Big Brother crazy, but what I saw of it looked great. It seemed to be generally showing the best of the sitcom shows from Channel 4, plus a few other entertainment programs. Like I said, it was on for very long before it got took over by Big Brother (well, actually I think it might have been, just I wasn't able to get it as I was away from home), so I didn't get a great feel for it. But, what I did see was great. They started by showing the seventh series of Friends, which was before Sky, a first as far as I can remember, as Sky normally gets everything first.
E4 is a great channel. If you love Big Brother, it's great right now. If you don't, then its great for a few hours in the evening, but will get back to its normal self in a few weeks when the Big Brother epidemic goes back into hibernation for another year.