'Big Brother' adviser quits over fracas

A consultant to the reality television programme
Big Brother has resigned in protest after an outbreak of violence on the set which triggered a police investigation.

A consultant to the reality television programme Big Brother has resigned in protest after an outbreak of violence on the set which triggered a police investigation.

David Wilson, a professor of criminology at the University of Central England, had been chosen to work with the Channel 4 programme because of his experience as a prison governor. But he said yesterday that he could not be associated with a programme that "provoked interpersonal violence for entertainment".

Other experts and MPs criticised Big Brother for "legitimising" violence in the eyes of young people and political leaders also turned on the programme-makers.

Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said Endemol, the programme's maker, and Channel 4 had created "an ugly spectacle".

"When the public feel obliged to ring the police about a TV 'entertainment' show, it's time for some hard thinking," he said. "Reality TV has become more and more extreme. The Big Brother producers dubbed this series ' Big Brother gets evil' and designed the format to create tension and trouble, which they presumably thought would make acceptable viewing. Nobody wants to clamp down on ideas or stop TV being inventive; but this is becoming an increasingly ugly spectacle."

More than 100 people have complained to the media watchdog Ofcom over the scenes, which were shown live in the early hours of Thursday and repeated in the evening.

Endemol hoped that Professor Wilson would be able to provide expert commentary on how the "housemates" were dealing with 12 weeks locked in the confines of a small house and subjected to various "tasks". But Professor Wilson said he had been left with no option but to resign after his advice was not acted on and violence broke out in the Big Brother house, a set at Elstree studios in Hertfordshire.

He said: "Given that there's an ongoing investigation by police, I simply cannot be associated with a programme which may have provoked interpersonal violence simply for the entertainment of a television audience."

Professor Wilson was understood to be strongly opposed to an experiment introduced for this series of the show in which two of the evicted housemates had been allowed to spy on their fellow contestants and then return to the house. Good prison management practice dictates that cellmates who have fallen out should be separated in order to prevent the possibility of further violence. Reuniting the evicted housemates brought a series of long-standing rows to the surface and television viewers saw trays thrown, plates smashed and a table overturned as the animosity turned to abusive language, threats and violence.

Endemol called in security guards and Channel 4 took the show - which is also streamed live on the digital channel E4 - off the air. Hertfordshire Police launched an investigation into the incidents.

Professor Wilson is one of six consultants hired by Endemol, helping to justify the programme as a form of social experiment. The lead consultant is the psychologist Professor Geoffrey Beattie, based at the University of Sheffield.

A spin-off show, Big Brother - The Psychology Show, featuring the views of the consultants, is intended to run alongside the show. It has so far not been screened but is understood to be scheduled for Monday.

Channel 4 said that despite Professor Wilson's departure, the programme-makers were confident in the "rigorous vetting procedures, full-time monitoring and security and on-site psychological support" that had been established on Big Brother. The channel said: "Professor Wilson was recruited this year as one of the psychologists who appear on screen to discuss and dissect the housemates' behaviour. He has not had any direct contact with the housemates or been involved in counselling."

The programme is subject to the code of the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, Channel 4 pointed out.

An Ofcom spokeswoman said that 105 people had complained over the screening of the brawl, and that the total number of complaints received about this fifth series of Big Brother had risen to 216. John Beyer, spokesman for Mediawatch UK, called the violence an "absolute disgrace".

He said: "At the time when Tony Blair was criticising people for what was close to rioting in Portugal, we had Channel 4 presenting the same thing as entertainment." He said that Endemol had cultivated trouble by choosing a volatile mix of housemates.

Channel 4 said that the "welfare and safety" of housemates was its "overriding concern" and that it was taking steps to defuse tension in the house.

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
peopleFilm star says he is 'not interested in making money anymore'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
Sport
footballAccording to revelations from Sergio Aguero's new biography
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Life and Style
Meow! ... Again, Kim Kardashian goes for a sexy Halloween costume, wrapping her body with a latex catsuit and high heeled knee boots
fashionFrom Heidi Klum to Kim Kardashian
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
Life and Style
tech

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Business Development and Analytics - TV

competitive benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Outstanding analytic expertise is req...

Head of ad sales international - Broadcast

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you the king or Queen o...

Business Development Manager Content/Subscriptions

£50k + commission: Savvy Media Ltd: Great opportunity to work for a team that ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker