Eleven people locked together in a house, cut off from all contact with the outside world, their every action broadcast live on the internet and nightly into the homes of millions of viewers. 'Big Brother' was the television show everyone was talking about in the summer of 2000, and in this official companion the whole sordid story is revealed, complete with much previously unseen material.
Big Brother was the
TV event of 2000. The set-up--put 10 members of the public in a specially constructed house, keep them under 24-hour surveillance and watch them sweat out the weekly evictions of one of their number, voted by us, the public--was derived from a hugely successful Dutch programme, and gripping, unmissable stuff it proved to be over here, too. Because you already know the outcome--and if you don't, where were you last summer--the game-show aspect of the programme doesn't really work on DVD or video. But that was never really the point. It was the personalities involved that made the show such compulsive viewing, and they remain as lively as ever.
On Big Brother--Uncut and the DVD To add some spice, Channel 4 have included scenes that were "too hot" for television: when Nicola decides to do some nude body painting, we see a bit more flesh now; some of the conversations between the contestants are a bit saucier than the original broadcast versions; and there are some hilarious close-ups of a few of the housemates picking their nose. But the best thing about Big Brother: Uncut is what made the whole show such big news in the first place: Nasty Nick's downfall, here played out in all its excruciating detail.
Given what we know about him, it's fun to see Nick try his hand at some team-building exercises the producers designed to select the 10 contestants before the programme aired. This scene is also included on "Inside Big Brother", a making-of documentary accompanying "Big Brother: Uncut". Made while the Big Brother show was still being broadcast, there's an agreeable urgency to this programme. The Channel 4 producers interviewed here seem a little bewildered by the show's success. John Del Mol, the co-creator of the Dutch show, hazards a guess that the British show was such a hit because it was so well cast, and there's a fascinating look into the design of the house--"penal chic" was the effect they were after. Also included in this package are profiles of the various contestants, but these feel a little redundant, if only because, over the course of the show, we learn a lot more about the housemates than what's on these skimpy resumes. The profiles do, however, tell us that most of the contestants harbour show-biz ambitions. Now, why is that not a surprise? --Edward Lawrenson