Big Brother is a unique phenomenon, and I hate it. One only has to take a look at the people who are desperate to take part in it to realise why. It is a soap-opera without continuity; a drama without a plot; a teambuilding exercise for muppets. Have the directors of Channel 4 taken leave of their senses? Has the British public gone mad? And what on earth would possess the poor ten hapless souls who end up in the house to do such a thing, let alone the thousands who failed the auditions. In an attempt to get into the mind of a contestant, I went in search of a place in Big Brother 5.
The closest auditions were in Newcastle. At half past seven in the morning, we three cold, tired and hungry students boarded the train and began our quest into the far Northern reaches of the land. In York it had been frosty, in Newcastle there had been a blizzard. Not just snowing, but expecting-to-see-a-penguin kind of snowing. Big Brother had taken the kind liberty of hosting the auditions at Newcastle Racecourse, which in these hostile conditions is one of the bleakest, most cheerless and depressing places on the face of the planet.
My two companions abandoned me in the queue, and went off to take photographs and do interviews. I stood in the queue; bored. In front of me was a group of people, the kind who they show on Families from Hell. Behind me were two women who seemed slightly mentally infirm and in need of help. As one sat drinking wine at half past nine in the morning, she showed me her ready packed suitcase for Big Brother (which contained cigarettes, a bikini, and more wine).
I turned back to the happy family in front of me. A row had ensued about who had the claim on the last cigarette in the packet. One of their children, and I jest ye not, had dressed up as a giant m&m. I, personally, was concerned with the practicalities. How does one squeeze through the door of the diary room when dressed as a giant piece of confectionary? What on earth drove her to do it? I am truly hopeless to speculate. Perhaps it was her parents. Were they trying to bribe the organisers to get a place in the house? "Hello Big Brother. Our daughter is mad and thinks she is a giant sweet. We really need the £70k so we can get her the proper treatment".
The queue moved slowly on. Various lunatics continued to defy belief; dressing up as chickens, baring bottoms and so forth. Stood there, arms folded, dressed up in seven layers, thinking warm thoughts, wishing I was elsewhere, I must have looked like the most unhappy and miserable person in the line. I think I was.
Eventually, a group of us are selected, invited into a room and asked to stand behind a barrier. Excitement mounts. There are ten of us. Only one will go through to the next stage. Silence. Nervous glances across the group. We are all duly thanked for turning up by a crazy Geordie, and then asked, one at a time, to explain to Big Brother why we deserve a place in the house. It was dismal. One person told the organisers that he thought Big Brother was a waste of time, another got stage fright and faltered after two words, and another proudly announced that he had a small penis but was sure looking forward to using it. I think small-penis-man was as shocked as we were when he was asked to step through to the next round. The rest of us were turned back out into the snow. Disappointed, but feeling somewhat fortunate, we trudged back down the lane and into the pub.
I still hate Big Brother. I always have done, but now I know why. It is cruelty on the part of the organisers, selecting and humiliating the crazy in our society. It is cruelty on the part of Davina McCall, the mere sight of her brings out seizures of violence within me. Worse of all, however, it is cruelty on part of Channel 4, for subjecting us to this utter drivel for ten weeks every year.