Big Brother Auditions (E4, 2002)
Big Brother is a show that doesn’t need any introduction from me really. I did watch some of the first few series occasionally on Channel 4, although in more recent years I have gone off it. I didn’t particularly want to write a piece about the show, partly because it is already well documented, so instead I’ll share with you one of the more unusual moments that happened in the early years of the show.
Back in the old On/ITV Digital days, Channel 4 launched their entertainment channel E4 in January 2001, and although it was a 24-hour channel, at first they didn’t show programming all day, not coming on air until about 4pm, so they used to fill their downtime by usually showing trails of their upcoming programmes. In 2001 when the second series of Big Brother began they were a little more creative, filling the daytime with uninterrupted live coverage from the house, which was intriguing until it was clear that all this turned out to be was a shot of a tree for an hour because all the housemates were being oh-so outrageous.
But in the run-up to the third series of Big Brother in 2002, E4 did something a little different. For about two weeks before the launch, in E4’s downtime they showed on a loop about an hour or two’s worth of audition tapes that they had received from people across the country who wanted to be on the show. When thinking about this again recently, I was pleased that I found some of these videos had been uploaded to YouTube by a user called Frank McGowan, so credit goes to them.
I do remember watching a lot of these auditions and I thought that it was a very odd way to fill the time. First of all we were told that the Big Brother production team had received over 10,000 tapes which had all been watched, but none of the videos that were shown featured people who had actually made it into the house, but it was a good example of the kind of things that people insisted that they would do to have a chance to make it on TV.
Some of the audition videos were very straightforward, with people just talking to the camera about their personality, but some of them were also rather funny like mini comedy sketches, and you probably won’t be surprised to know that I liked the ones that were rather weird, and just the way that some of them were made was an odd thing to come across when channel hopping in the afternoon.
The DVD of the first series of the sitcom Peep Show features an extra of what is supposedly Jeremy’s audition tape for Big Brother, I wonder if the team on that show did see any of these, as Jeremy’s “I’m crazy, me!”-style of presenting himself did seem very similar to these real videos, and whether by accident or design it was a very accurate and amusing parody.
It was good seeing some of these videos again recently. I wonder what the people whose videos did get shown on TV made of it? I suppose it follows the old “15 minutes of fame” rule, and I’m sure that they’ll be thrilled that I still remember them and their antics as much as most of the actual housemates from this time after all these years.