“Big” and “Brother” – Together, these words inevitably form an eyebrow-raising phrase that has more recently connoted a collection of monstrosities living together for three long and tedious months, so the nation can get their kicks from the housemates that do it under a clothed table (#MichelleBassAndChickenStu), or argue over who ate the last piece of bacon. Additionally, when the phrase is heard, people think of desperate wannabes and cringey Television, more recently aired by Channel 5. People fail to remember how original and exciting the show once was when it first emerged in 2000 on Channel 4, peaking at 4.5 million viewers. Today, Big Brother appears to be the cheap lowlight of daytime TV, deplorably underachieving in views, watched by an audience of only 1.7 million per series. The question that’s probably at the tip of your tongue is: if the public once loved the phenomenal concept of Big Brother so much, whatever could be the unappetising factor? My guess is that the novelty of Big Brother is wearing off due to the ridiculously fake and imbecilic residents of the house, badly chosen by the producers.
Who even bothers to audition for shows like this anymore?
And the answer to that question is apparently, me.
In early February I trekked to Manchester GMEX centre, on a quest to discover what kind of people attend this newly declared loon convention, just to give you an insight as to what really happens in the audition process.
First impressions exposed the expected generic stereotypes: packs of Barbie dolls and the type that claim to be dead normal – but you’ll discover they have a speech impediment, a wooden leg, and frequently attend swinger’s parties. The queue was alive with aspiring singers, glamour models and actors, drag queens, camp men, macho women and even a Gypsy, glamorously wearing conspicuous black and white striped jeans. My morning paper told me the producers were in search of “normal, attractive and single housemates”, so it came as no shock that the traveller girl was escorted to the front of the line; she was roughly 6ft tall with legs up to her chest, sporting a head of extra-long, brunette hair – a typical Gypsy style, with an envious, porcelain face.
Waiting to go into the audition room seemed to take an eternity, but once the doors were open for us, the ten mishaps I was assigned to then took turns to stand before the producers, explaining why they would make the greatest housemate, myself included.
The producer on the left made it apparent she had either witnessed her dog’s death yesterday, or got divorced last month to a man who ran away with her sister. The producer on the right had a chubby red face, a chubby body and a contradicting attitude. Like the divorcee sat next to him, his face was as straight as a nun, with thick black glasses framing his sheepish eyes.
The first competitor waded into the limelight – An American man, 30 years of age and oddly clad in Ugg Boots. I know what you’re thinking, but not only was he heterosexual, he was also married too. When he announced he’d lived in a submarine for the best part of 3 years, I was desperate to ask if it was yellow. His presentation consisted of the following – “It got pretty boring on these underwater voyages, so I taught myself to build relationships with the other guys, but I’m not really into that happy, fluffy kinda bullshit. Instead, I used the supposed friendships to manipulate them, and fuck them up for my own amusement.” To be frank I don’t understand (and don’t actually care), what he was implying when he explained he could “fuck people up”, but subsequent to it being said, and after some deliberation, I decided a “Mwahaha”, would have slotted in wonderfully at the end of his award-winning speech.
Initial impressions of the next guy: possibly half-man half-Martian – considering he massively lacked social skills, bless his heart. When he later revealed he suffered with Aspergers, I felt quite cruel, and when the moment came for him to say his piece, he strangely beat-boxed instead, so I applauded – to boost his confidence (which made me feel less guilty when secretly assuming he was some form of extraterrestrial). He explained he couldn’t control things he did or said at times, therefore he was given extra time to complete the task, yet he still managed to muddle it up by taking enormous pauses between sentences. I couldn’t determine whether this was to build emotive tension when telling us he only had one real life friend called Simon, or because he was stuck for words, but fortunately his sob story and uncommon quirks paid off. He got through to the next round, as did Mr Hollywood.
It’s plain I don’t possess the oomph the producers wanted, as I am not argumentative, nor quirky, uneducated nor geeky, and I am most definitely not a loser, or glamour-model material. You’ll have guessed that I wasn’t considered for round two, but I am not bitter. There is no resentment. I am not even fazed, because those who did succeed had the personality of monkeys – mischievous, abnormally hairy, infantile, uneducated or disturbed…
Who wants to be stuck in a house with people like that anyway?