So when is Mad Dog going to join Big Brother?

'The puerile nature of the show is a result of the same process that made Alan Titchmarsh famous'
Click to follow
The Independent Online

How did Channel 4 find a bunch of people capable of milling around for week after week without once offering an opinion about anything whatsoever apart from their meaningless, turgid selves?

How did Channel 4 find a bunch of people capable of milling around for week after week without once offering an opinion about anything whatsoever apart from their meaningless, turgid selves?

If someone went into that house and explained how the Burmese military tortures dissidents by beating the soles of their feet, the response would be, "Now, I'd hate that because I've got very sensitive feet. It's because I'm a Sagittarian."

Channel 4 missed a trick when it had to find a replacement for the one who cheated, as the Big Brother house would have been the perfect place to put Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair. At least the dialogue would have been more interesting:

Craig: Ay, like, I don't feel you're bonding with the group.

Mad Dog: Too right. Now stay on the floor and don't move. Well, would someone like to make their nominations now?

Or maybe the apparent banality of the conversation is just down to the editing. Perhaps they spend the whole day discussing the role of the novel in 19th-century France, but we get to see only the snippets where they're discussing who's got the biggest genitals. We see them sprawled gormlessly over the settee, but little do we know it is because they're exhausted after a hard day debating chaos theory. The bit that's left out is Mel saying, "Call me a philistine, but after all that philosophy I need Craig to give me a back-rub."

They are the only group I've ever witnessed who have no opinions about anything. Not on music or history or school or sport or civil engineering or anything. Which makes me suspicious, especially after the plonky way the stockbroker was caught cheating. Did it not occur to him that someone might see him, given that the reason for his being there was to be surrounded by 20,000 cameras? I suppose that his next plan was to start stealing the electrical appliances and flogging them to a fence in Romford market.

Though it's unlikely that the fixing is blatant, it must take place in a subtle way, with suggestions and briefings encouraging certain ratings- boosting behaviour. But this is the worst of all worlds.

It would be more entertaining if they just went for it, as if it were wrestling. Then the contestants could be characters like Thor and the Rhinestone Cowboy, or a baddie dressed as Vlad the Impaler, who was terrifyingly evil but whimpered like a baby if anyone ate his toast.

As it is, the show is another step along the trend for celebrating vacuousness. Channel 4 tries to dress it up as a social experiment, but that is cobblers. When it talks about the group "bonding", what does it mean? None of them does anything all day long; how can you bond by doing nothing?

Presumably Channel 4 means that just as tribes in New Guinea allot roles to each individual, such as fetching water or catching fish, each of the Big Brother gang performs a crucial social function such as staring at the ceiling and saying, "I feel really itchy today."

It's not the concept of the programme that seems to be the problem, as it should be compelling to observe different people thrown together. Anyone who has lived in a council block knows how gripping it is to piece together the goings-on of the families who live on the other side of a cardboard-thick wall. To start with, all you know about them is that they shout, "Oh, I don't believe it," during sex and that they have an extra pint of milk on a Tuesday. But, through observation and engagement, they become rounded, complex characters.

It would be interesting to know whether the black contestants in Big Brother felt they ever encountered racism. What did the one from Omagh think about the peace process? Has the lesbian noticed a change in attitudes toward sexuality? It's inconceivable they have no opinions on these matters. But we will never know, because the facile aspects of these individuals have been encouraged at every stage. The puerile nature of Big Brother is a result of the same process that made Alan Titchmarsh a celebrity.

At one point, Mel said how much she was enjoying living in the house, as it had allowed her to meet so many people from different backgrounds. Yet they're all exactly the same. It's like saying, "The wonderful thing about the House of Lords is, you meet people from every possible walk of life."

The programme has been referred to as the ultimate soap opera. So why couldn't the producers do what normally happens in soap operas when the programme is packed with dull characters who are all alike, and arrange for a plane to crash into the house so they can start again?

Failing that, I hope the winner is the only one not utterly self-obsessed, and who appears to have some potential to engage with the outside world: Marjorie the chicken.