The Third Leader: Reality bites

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The Independent Online

After three months of dominating the Channel 4 schedules, Big Brother 8 is finally over. The station has already decided to axe Celebrity Big Brother, following the racism debacle in the last series, and the time has surely come to bid a permanent farewell to the show that spawned it. When Big Brother began in 2000, it was said that it would constitute a "social experiment", and the fascination in its early days was undeniable. But gradually, inevitably, the novelty wore off.

The show acquired an air of contrivance, its power to shock artificial. There was something wearisome about about the producers' claims to "push boundaries". Channel 4's recent troubles invite a serious reappraisal of its output, and as viewers desert Big Brother – its audience is down to below four million from more than twice that at its peak – the decision to lock the door of the BB house and throw away the key ought not to detain the channel for long.

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