Has Big Brother had its day? We’re afraid it could be time to face the music.
This year could very well mark the end of Big Brother as well as Celebrity Big Brother if Channel 5 doesn’t renew its contract with Endemol. The current deal expires after the 2018 summer series of CBB, and by the sounds of things, this could mean game-over for the iconic reality show.
Despite its loyal fanbase, Channel 5 boss Ben Frow has made it pretty clear he’s not a huge BB fan. Speaking at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, the executive said that the reality TV series has “declined” and questioned whether or not the show should continue on the channel. “I’d be much happier with a channel without Big Brother on it. I want our own programmes,” he was reported as saying (via Broadcast).
Ratings for the most recent series of Celebrity Big Brother probably haven’t helped matters either. Just 1.9million on average tuned in to watch the likes of Courtney Act, Andrew Brady and Ann Widdecombe live together for three weeks. That’s a pretty grim figure compared to the 4.9 million viewers (on average) that watched the 2006 series which saw Chantelle Houghton crowned winner.
The future doesn’t exactly look bright, does it?
Another disappointing sign that Channel 5 is planning to drop Big Brother is that it’s taking new show pitches for a potential replacement. If the contract isn’t renewed, the channel will be left with more than 110 primetime hours of programming to fill and so it’s keeping its eyes open for the next big thing. Although this is just a contingency plan, the move makes it clear that the channel is preparing to possibly say goodbye to the series.
Digital Spy reached out to the broadcaster to ask it to set the record straight on the rumours – is it planning to ditch Big Brother? Channel 5 would not confirm or deny the reports. Instead, we were issued a statement, which read: “Channel 5 is committed to a further series of Big Brother and of Celebrity Big Brother later this year.” Hmm…
Reading between the lines, we’re not hopeful. But if Channel 5 doesn’t sign on the dotted line later this year, it’s probably going to regret it. Yes, we understand ratings have dropped ridiculously, however, Celebrity Big Brother was still its most watched show last year. It pulled in a peak of 2,792,500 viewers, while its next most popular show was Agatha Christie’s Crooked House, which was watched by 2,644,000. So, BB is still very much Channel 5’s top earner, which makes the idea of canning it pretty odd.
As we mentioned earlier, Ben Frow is keen for Channel 5 to introduce its own programmes rather than continue to focus all of its energy into Channel 4’s cast-off. But wouldn’t this be a huge risk? Just take a look at what happened when ITV attempted to launch “winter Love Island” Survival of the Fittest. The opener received mixed reviews and it failed to take off in the same way that Love Island has. Now, Ladbrokes has placed 2/1 odds that Survival of the Fittest will be axed after just one series. Is it really worth ditching your top show for a potential flop?
Presenter Emma Willis has spoken out to say she thinks Celebrity Big Brother in particular still has plenty of life in the franchise. “I’m hoping it’s not the last Big Brother,” she told The Sunday People. “I hope they recommission it. I love it. They did brilliant things in January. I think they could do that for the summer series.”
Meanwhile, Bit on the Side host Rylan Clark-Neal has said he would be “utterly devastated” if it came to an end after 18 years. “I can’t imagine TV without Big Brother. When Channel 4 got rid of it, I rang the helpline in Heat magazine. I was that devastated,” he told The Sun. “Not many reality shows can say they’ve been on air for 18 years. I’d love to see it make 20 years – of course I would. I think it’s time to make Big Brother what it was. I’ve always had one million per cent faith in the format and that it can be the greatest show on telly.”
Is this the answer then? Rather than take a blind gamble by binning its top show to test the waters with something new, perhaps it would be more sensible if Channel 5 looked at implementing some changes to restore Big Brother to its former glory.
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