‘Eye Of The Storm’ Season Brings Out The Slimiest In Society: Big Brother 2018

Since the advent of British reality TV with Candid Camera in 1948, the genre has exploded on to the small screen with a pace that increased with programmes like Big Brother and The Apprentice. Far from the light-hearted caught-on-camera moments that viewers enjoyed with Allen Funt’s hidden camera show, audiences now tune in to see cat-fights, bickering, and surprise evictions.

As the definition of reality TV show is stretched beyond recognition by producers and programme creators alike, we have to wonder whether the mantle of reality show fits the biggest names in the business, and whether they are accountable for who they drop into their pressure cooker environments.

  • Reality TV definition:

uncountable noun

Reality TV is a type of television programming which aims to show how ordinary people behave in everyday life, or in situations, often created by the programme makers, which are intended to represent everyday life.

…the Americans’ current infatuation¬†with reality TV.

Reality television programmes like Love Island have come under fire for their choice of contestants with a specific body type: the slice of society on the programme is a thin one. Love Island is ranked as the most watched programme for 16-34 year olds, and has 1.6 million 16-34 viewers, which is 52% of the audience.

Love Island Contestants

Reality TV programme Big Brother has always included housemates who are less than stable, even once having Nikki Graham and Pete Bennett on the programme. Some think they should have been barred from entering on the grounds of emotional vulnerability. The Big Brother producers would probably argue they make for better entertainment, and bigger view counts.

Big Brother 2018 has hit a new low in allowing Daniel Osborne on the show. Daniel has a history of threatening physical violence towards his ex-girlfriend, but at least he starred on The Only Way Is Essex from 2013-2015. A claim to fame, as small as it may be, seems to be the only requirement for prospective Big Brother contestants, regardless of their history.

Daniel was allegedly motivated to threatened Megan because he feared being unable to see their son, Teddy, if Megan began a relationship with someone else.

  • ‘As long as you’ve got my son, you’re part of my property.’
  • ‘You’re making Teddy cry because you’re a fucking slut.’
  • ‘Shut your fucking mouth you fucking slut.’ To which Megan replied, ‘Don’t start hitting me or I’ll start going mad.’
  • ‘If you go near another man I promise you I will stab you in the fucking throat. I swear on this boys’ life I will end your fucking life if you shag another man.’ Megan replied, ‘You can’t threaten me, Dan, so just stop.’ Dan then said, ‘It’s not a threat, it’s a promise.’
Megan released the tapes in an effort to show friends and family members the extent of Daniel’s abusive behaviour. She also describes the tapes as ‘not a one-off’ and said, ‘they were typical of Daniel’s behaviour towards me.’

In the light of these tapes, which were released as recently as 2015, why have the producers of Celebrity Big Brother allowed Daniel Osborne on the show?
dan osborne
Dan Osborne

Their decision was obviously motivated by the desire for higher ratings: this season, after all, is called ‘eye of the storm.’ Daniel’s involvement in the show becomes less shocking when we see the whole line-up: this year’s programme is littered with the likes of Jermaine Pennant, a footballer who has served time in prison for drunk and disorderly driving, and Hardeep Singh Kohli, a presenter who was agreed to take six months of leave from the One Show in 2009 for behaving inappropriately towards a female colleague.

Hardeep Singh
Hardeep Singh Kohli

In a recent episode Hardeep’s co-stars questioned him about his disappearance from main stream television. He labelled his 2009 dismissal as ‘boring and nothing.’ He went onto imply that he was targeted for his race, saying, ‘if you’re a man of colour in this business, you get one chance.’

Does the series title ‘eye of the storm’ justify allowing these men having air time? Time that could be better spent advocating against domestic violence, drink driving, and sexual misconduct? Does it matter that both Dan and Hardeep apologised for their actions?
Is Big Brother turning into Doctor Who’s Bad Wolf version of the show? A relentless cash cow that is solely focused on a contestants pulling power?
I could fall for the argument that the contestants are chosen because of their dis-likability, and that Big Brother’s view count (which often reaches over a million) is a vindication of how slimy and unlikable these people are, rather than an avocation of how they can be redeemed. If only these people did not walk out of Big Brother and into another reality TV contract, and another, and another, glossing over their abusive behaviour as a result of being in a ‘bad place,’ as Daniel Osborne did after threatening to stab his ex-girlfriend.

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